Android Debugging

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Debugging methods for Android


kernel message log

The Linux kernel has a message log in an internal ring buffer. You can access the contents of this log using the 'dmesg' command.

You can add timing information to the printk messages, by adding "time" to the Linux kernel command line.

init logging

The Android init program outputs some messages to the kernel log, as it starts the system. You can increase the verbosity of init, using the "loglevel" command in the /init.rc file.

The default loglevel is 3, but you can change it to 8 (the highest) by changing the following line in the /init.rc file. Change:

loglevel 3


loglevel 8

Android logging system

The Android application framework has a built-in logging system, which goes through a special driver in the kernel. It is described at:

Note that although the log dumper (logcat) is described on the Android developer site on the 'adb' page, there is a native logcat command included in the Android distribution (that is, available on the target file system, which can be run locally).



You can use strace on Android. It is included in the Android open source project (at least as of Android 2.1), and appears to be automatically installed in engineering builds of the software.

To use strace during early initialization, you can put it in the /init.rc file. For example, to trace zygote initialization, change the following line in /init.rc.

service zygote /system/bin/app_process -Xzygote /system/bin --zygote --start-system-server

should be changed to:

service zygote /system/xbin/strace -tt -o/data/boot.strace /system/bin/app_process -Xzygote /system/bin --zygote --start system-server

Dalvik Method Tracer


Kernel and User co-debug with GDB on Android

See Zach Pfeffer Next Gen Android 2012.pdf

Additional Resources