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The purpose of a debugger such as GDB is to allow you to see what is going on "inside" another program while it executes--or what another program was doing at the moment it crashed.
GDB can do four main kinds of things (plus other things in support of these) to help you catch bugs in the act:
You can use GDB to debug programs written in C or C++. For more information, see section C and C++.
Support for Modula-2 and Chill is partial. For information on Modula-2, see section Modula-2. There is no further documentation on Chill yet.
Debugging Pascal programs which use sets, subranges, file variables, or nested functions does not currently work. GDB does not support entering expressions, printing values, or similar features using Pascal syntax.
GDB can be used to debug programs written in Fortran, although it does not yet support entering expressions, printing values, or similar features using Fortran syntax. It may be necessary to refer to some variables with a trailing underscore.
GDB is free software, protected by the GNU General Public License (GPL). The GPL gives you the freedom to copy or adapt a licensed program--but every person getting a copy also gets with it the freedom to modify that copy (which means that they must get access to the source code), and the freedom to distribute further copies. Typical software companies use copyrights to limit your freedoms; the Free Software Foundation uses the GPL to preserve these freedoms.
Fundamentally, the General Public License is a license which says that you have these freedoms and that you cannot take these freedoms away from anyone else.
Richard Stallman was the original author of GDB, and of many other GNU programs. Many others have contributed to its development. This section attempts to credit major contributors. One of the virtues of free software is that everyone is free to contribute to it; with regret, we cannot actually acknowledge everyone here. The file `ChangeLog' in the GDB distribution approximates a blow-by-blow account.
Changes much prior to version 2.0 are lost in the mists of time.
Plea: Additions to this section are particularly welcome. If you or your friends (or enemies, to be evenhanded) have been unfairly omitted from this list, we would like to add your names!
So that they may not regard their long labor as thankless, we particularly thank those who shepherded GDB through major releases: Stan Shebs (release 4.14), Fred Fish (releases 4.13, 4.12, 4.11, 4.10, and 4.9), Stu Grossman and John Gilmore (releases 4.8, 4.7, 4.6, 4.5, and 4.4), John Gilmore (releases 4.3, 4.2, 4.1, 4.0, and 3.9); Jim Kingdon (releases 3.5, 3.4, and 3.3); and Randy Smith (releases 3.2, 3.1, and 3.0). As major maintainer of GDB for some period, each contributed significantly to the structure, stability, and capabilities of the entire debugger.
Richard Stallman, assisted at various times by Peter TerMaat, Chris Hanson, and Richard Mlynarik, handled releases through 2.8.
Michael Tiemann is the author of most of the GNU C++ support in GDB, with significant additional contributions from Per Bothner. James Clark wrote the GNU C++ demangler. Early work on C++ was by Peter TerMaat (who also did much general update work leading to release 3.0).
GDB 4 uses the BFD subroutine library to examine multiple object-file formats; BFD was a joint project of David V. Henkel-Wallace, Rich Pixley, Steve Chamberlain, and John Gilmore.
David Johnson wrote the original COFF support; Pace Willison did the original support for encapsulated COFF.
Adam de Boor and Bradley Davis contributed the ISI Optimum V support. Per Bothner, Noboyuki Hikichi, and Alessandro Forin contributed MIPS support. Jean-Daniel Fekete contributed Sun 386i support. Chris Hanson improved the HP9000 support. Noboyuki Hikichi and Tomoyuki Hasei contributed Sony/News OS 3 support. David Johnson contributed Encore Umax support. Jyrki Kuoppala contributed Altos 3068 support. Jeff Law contributed HP PA and SOM support. Keith Packard contributed NS32K support. Doug Rabson contributed Acorn Risc Machine support. Bob Rusk contributed Harris Nighthawk CX-UX support. Chris Smith contributed Convex support (and Fortran debugging). Jonathan Stone contributed Pyramid support. Michael Tiemann contributed SPARC support. Tim Tucker contributed support for the Gould NP1 and Gould Powernode. Pace Willison contributed Intel 386 support. Jay Vosburgh contributed Symmetry support.
Rich Schaefer and Peter Schauer helped with support of SunOS shared libraries.
Jay Fenlason and Roland McGrath ensured that GDB and GAS agree about several machine instruction sets.
Patrick Duval, Ted Goldstein, Vikram Koka and Glenn Engel helped develop remote debugging. Intel Corporation and Wind River Systems contributed remote debugging modules for their products.
Brian Fox is the author of the readline libraries providing command-line editing and command history.
Andrew Beers of SUNY Buffalo wrote the language-switching code, the Modula-2 support, and contributed the Languages chapter of this manual.
Fred Fish wrote most of the support for Unix System Vr4. He also enhanced the command-completion support to cover C++ overloaded symbols.
Hitachi America, Ltd. sponsored the support for Hitachi microprocessors.
Kung Hsu, Jeff Law, and Rick Sladkey added support for hardware watchpoints.
Stu Grossman wrote gdbserver.
Jim Kingdon, Peter Schauer, Ian Taylor, and Stu Grossman made nearly innumerable bug fixes and cleanups throughout GDB.
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