Debugging Tools

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This is a list of UNIX tools that can be helpful in debugging. The list was taken from a never written FAQ item

Resource Usage


Show resource (memory, CPU) usage of currently running application on your computer.


List open network sockets. To see a list of daemons:

netstat -a


List open files. Actually also lists open sockets.

C code debugging


GNU debugger. First start gdb, then start your application. If you now get a crash, you can do a backtrace (bt) or other useful things.

(gdb) run myapplication
Starting program: /usr/local/bin/myapplication
Reading symbols for shared libraries
Program received signal EXC_BAD_ACCESS, Could not access memory.
Reason: KERN_PROTECTION_FAILURE at address: 0x0004000c
0x0044dbec in divide_by_zero()

(gdb) bt
#0  0x0044dbec in divide_by_zero ()
#1  0x004a3470 in execute ()
#2  0x005132a4 in main ()


Print system calls made by a program. This is useful to track which files are opened, since that happens using system calls.

The Mac OS X equivalent is ktrace.


Print library calls made by a program

File examination


Determine the type of file.

ldd / otool

List linked libraries (Unix)

oTool (Mac)


Extract readable strings from a binary file.

Other tools

lslk / fuser / stat / readlink ksymoops nm objdump strings / file od / hexdump time

See Also

Computer Forensic Analysis by Wietse Venema.