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Using strace to Debug Programs in Linux

Novell Cool Solutions: Trench
By Aaron Gresko

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Posted: 21 Sep 2005

Using strace to Debug Programs

A common tool utilized by Novell Support to troubleshoot Linux systems is strace. strace is a utility that prints all the system calls made by a program to standard error. strace can also redirect the output to a file.

To use strace, open a terminal and enter strace [options] [command]. For example, the command strace -f -o /tmp/tracels ls / runs the command ls / and sends the output to the file /tmp/tracels. The f option tells strace to include forked processes.

strace is useful in lots of different situations, including:
  • Finding out what point a program encounters errors. By backtracking from the point of the error, you can identify what caused the error.
  • Identifying the files a program is using. Sometimes knowing what files are being used by a program can help identify problems or in just learning how a program works.
  • Solve problems with dependent libraries. sctrace output includes the linker process, which is where the libraries a program is dependent on are loaded into memory for use. If a dependent library is missing or the program is using the wrong version, the strace output will reveal this.

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