Kernel debugger

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A kernel debugger is a debugger present in some operating system kernels to ease debugging and kernel development by the kernel developers. A kernel debugger might be a stub implementing low-level operations, with a full-blown debugger such as gdb, running on another machine, sending commands to the stub over a serial line or a network connection, or it might provide a command line that can be used directly on the machine being debugged.

Operating systems and operating system kernels that contain a kernel debugger:

  • The Windows NT family includes a kernel debugger named KD,[1] which can act as a local debugger with limited capabilities (reading and writing kernel memory, but not setting breakpoints)[2] and can attach to a remote machine over a serial line, IEEE 1394 connection, USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 connection.[3] The WinDbg GUI debugger can also be used to debug kernels on local and remote machines.
  • BeOS and Haiku include a kernel debugger usable with either an on-screen console or over a serial line. It features various commands to inspect memory, threads, and other kernel structures. [4]
  • DragonFly BSD
  • Linux kernel; No kernel debugger was included in the mainline Linux tree prior to version 2.6.26-rc1 because Linus Torvalds didn't want a kernel debugger in the kernel.[5][6]
  • NetBSD (DDB for local, KGDB for remote)
  • macOS,[11] Darwin which runs the XNU kernel using the Mach component


  1. ^ "KD". Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Performing Local Kernel Debugging". Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  3. ^ "Windows Debugging". Retrieved 22 May 2013.
  4. ^ "Welcome to Kernel Debugging Land".
  5. ^ "". Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  6. ^ Torvalds, Linus (3 May 2008). "Linux 2.6.26-rc1". LWN. Retrieved 9 March 2015.
  7. ^ Nellitheertha, Hariprasad. "Inside the Linux kernel debugger". Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 29 May 2008.
  8. ^ "LWN Weekly Kernel News". 7 September 2008.
  9. ^ "MDB Github Website". 1 January 2016. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016.
  10. ^ "LWN Weekly Kernel News". 28 June 2010.
  11. ^ Singh, Amit (December 2003). "XNU: The Kernel". What is Mac OS X?. Retrieved 25 May 2012. the built-in low-level kernel debugger, ddb, is part of XNU's Mach component, and so is kdp, a remote kernel debugging protocol implementation