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Debugging on Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture
Denis Joseph Barrow (,
Copyright (C) 2000-2001 IBM Deutschland Entwicklung GmbH, IBM Corporation
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Overview of Document:
This document is intended to give a good overview of how to debug Linux for
s/390 and z/Architecture. It is not intended as a complete reference and not a
tutorial on the fundamentals of C & assembly. It doesn't go into
390 IO in any detail. It is intended to complement the documents in the
reference section below & any other worthwhile references you get.
It is intended like the Enterprise Systems Architecture/390 Reference Summary
to be printed out & used as a quick cheat sheet self help style reference when
problems occur.
Register Set
Address Spaces on Intel Linux
Address Spaces on Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture
The Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture Kernel Task Structure
Register Usage & Stackframes on Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture
A sample program with comments
Compiling programs for debugging on Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture
Debugging under VM
s/390 & z/Architecture IO Overview
Debugging IO on s/390 & z/Architecture under VM
GDB on s/390 & z/Architecture
Stack chaining in gdb by hand
Examining core dumps
Debugging modules
The proc file system
Special Thanks
Register Set
The current architectures have the following registers.
16 General propose registers, 32 bit on s/390 and 64 bit on z/Architecture,
r0-r15 (or gpr0-gpr15), used for arithmetic and addressing.
16 Control registers, 32 bit on s/390 and 64 bit on z/Architecture, cr0-cr15,
kernel usage only, used for memory management, interrupt control, debugging
control etc.
16 Access registers (ar0-ar15), 32 bit on both s/390 and z/Architecture,
normally not used by normal programs but potentially could be used as
temporary storage. These registers have a 1:1 association with general
purpose registers and are designed to be used in the so-called access
register mode to select different address spaces.
Access register 0 (and access register 1 on z/Architecture, which needs a
64 bit pointer) is currently used by the pthread library as a pointer to
the current running threads private area.
16 64 bit floating point registers (fp0-fp15 ) IEEE & HFP floating
point format compliant on G5 upwards & a Floating point control reg (FPC)
4 64 bit registers (fp0,fp2,fp4 & fp6) HFP only on older machines.
Linux (currently) always uses IEEE & emulates G5 IEEE format on older machines,
( provided the kernel is configured for this ).
The PSW is the most important register on the machine it
is 64 bit on s/390 & 128 bit on z/Architecture & serves the roles of
a program counter (pc), condition code register,memory space designator.
In IBM standard notation I am counting bit 0 as the MSB.
It has several advantages over a normal program counter
in that you can change address translation & program counter
in a single instruction. To change address translation,
e.g. switching address translation off requires that you
have a logical=physical mapping for the address you are
currently running at.
Bit Value
s/390 z/Architecture
0 0 Reserved ( must be 0 ) otherwise specification exception occurs.
1 1 Program Event Recording 1 PER enabled,
PER is used to facilitate debugging e.g. single stepping.
2-4 2-4 Reserved ( must be 0 ).
5 5 Dynamic address translation 1=DAT on.
6 6 Input/Output interrupt Mask
7 7 External interrupt Mask used primarily for interprocessor
signalling and clock interrupts.
8-11 8-11 PSW Key used for complex memory protection mechanism
(not used under linux)
12 12 1 on s/390 0 on z/Architecture
13 13 Machine Check Mask 1=enable machine check interrupts
14 14 Wait State. Set this to 1 to stop the processor except for
interrupts and give time to other LPARS. Used in CPU idle in
the kernel to increase overall usage of processor resources.
15 15 Problem state ( if set to 1 certain instructions are disabled )
all linux user programs run with this bit 1
( useful info for debugging under VM ).
16-17 16-17 Address Space Control
00 Primary Space Mode:
The register CR1 contains the primary address-space control ele-
ment (PASCE), which points to the primary space region/segment
table origin.
01 Access register mode
10 Secondary Space Mode:
The register CR7 contains the secondary address-space control
element (SASCE), which points to the secondary space region or
segment table origin.
11 Home Space Mode:
The register CR13 contains the home space address-space control
element (HASCE), which points to the home space region/segment
table origin.
See "Address Spaces on Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture" below
for more information about address space usage in Linux.
18-19 18-19 Condition codes (CC)
20 20 Fixed point overflow mask if 1=FPU exceptions for this event
occur ( normally 0 )
21 21 Decimal overflow mask if 1=FPU exceptions for this event occur
( normally 0 )
22 22 Exponent underflow mask if 1=FPU exceptions for this event occur
( normally 0 )
23 23 Significance Mask if 1=FPU exceptions for this event occur
( normally 0 )
24-31 24-30 Reserved Must be 0.
31 Extended Addressing Mode
32 Basic Addressing Mode
Used to set addressing mode
PSW 31 PSW 32
0 0 24 bit
0 1 31 bit
1 1 64 bit
32 1=31 bit addressing mode 0=24 bit addressing mode (for backward
compatibility), linux always runs with this bit set to 1
33-64 Instruction address.
33-63 Reserved must be 0
64-127 Address
In 24 bits mode bits 64-103=0 bits 104-127 Address
In 31 bits mode bits 64-96=0 bits 97-127 Address
Note: unlike 31 bit mode on s/390 bit 96 must be zero
when loading the address with LPSWE otherwise a
specification exception occurs, LPSW is fully backward
Prefix Page(s)
This per cpu memory area is too intimately tied to the processor not to mention.
It exists between the real addresses 0-4096 on s/390 and between 0-8192 on
z/Architecture and is exchanged with one page on s/390 or two pages on
z/Architecture in absolute storage by the set prefix instruction during Linux
This page is mapped to a different prefix for each processor in an SMP
configuration (assuming the OS designer is sane of course).
Bytes 0-512 (200 hex) on s/390 and 0-512, 4096-4544, 4604-5119 currently on
z/Architecture are used by the processor itself for holding such information
as exception indications and entry points for exceptions.
Bytes after 0xc00 hex are used by linux for per processor globals on s/390 and
z/Architecture (there is a gap on z/Architecture currently between 0xc00 and
0x1000, too, which is used by Linux).
The closest thing to this on traditional architectures is the interrupt
vector table. This is a good thing & does simplify some of the kernel coding
however it means that we now cannot catch stray NULL pointers in the
kernel without hard coded checks.
Address Spaces on Intel Linux
The traditional Intel Linux is approximately mapped as follows forgive
the ascii art.
0xFFFFFFFF 4GB Himem *****************
* *
* Kernel Space *
* *
***************** ****************
User Space Himem * User Stack * * *
(typically 0xC0000000 3GB ) ***************** * *
* Shared Libs * * Next Process *
***************** * to *
* * <== * Run * <==
* User Program * * *
* Data BSS * * *
* Text * * *
* Sections * * *
0x00000000 ***************** ****************
Now it is easy to see that on Intel it is quite easy to recognise a kernel
address as being one greater than user space himem (in this case 0xC0000000),
and addresses of less than this are the ones in the current running program on
this processor (if an smp box).
If using the virtual machine ( VM ) as a debugger it is quite difficult to
know which user process is running as the address space you are looking at
could be from any process in the run queue.
The limitation of Intels addressing technique is that the linux
kernel uses a very simple real address to virtual addressing technique
of Real Address=Virtual Address-User Space Himem.
This means that on Intel the kernel linux can typically only address
Himem=0xFFFFFFFF-0xC0000000=1GB & this is all the RAM these machines
can typically use.
They can lower User Himem to 2GB or lower & thus be
able to use 2GB of RAM however this shrinks the maximum size
of User Space from 3GB to 2GB they have a no win limit of 4GB unless
they go to 64 Bit.
On 390 our limitations & strengths make us slightly different.
For backward compatibility we are only allowed use 31 bits (2GB)
of our 32 bit addresses, however, we use entirely separate address
spaces for the user & kernel.
This means we can support 2GB of non Extended RAM on s/390, & more
with the Extended memory management swap device &
currently 4TB of physical memory currently on z/Architecture.
Address Spaces on Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture
Our addressing scheme is basically as follows:
Primary Space Home Space
Himem 0x7fffffff 2GB on s/390 ***************** ****************
currently 0x3ffffffffff (2^42)-1 * User Stack * * *
on z/Architecture. ***************** * *
* Shared Libs * * *
***************** * *
* * * Kernel *
* User Program * * *
* Data BSS * * *
* Text * * *
* Sections * * *
0x00000000 ***************** ****************
This also means that we need to look at the PSW problem state bit and the
addressing mode to decide whether we are looking at user or kernel space.
User space runs in primary address mode (or access register mode within
the vdso code).
The kernel usually also runs in home space mode, however when accessing
user space the kernel switches to primary or secondary address mode if
the mvcos instruction is not available or if a compare-and-swap (futex)
instruction on a user space address is performed.
When also looking at the ASCE control registers, this means:
User space:
- runs in primary or access register mode
- cr1 contains the user asce
- cr7 contains the user asce
- cr13 contains the kernel asce
Kernel space:
- runs in home space mode
- cr1 contains the user or kernel asce
-> the kernel asce is loaded when a uaccess requires primary or
secondary address mode
- cr7 contains the user or kernel asce, (changed with set_fs())
- cr13 contains the kernel asce
In case of uaccess the kernel changes to:
- primary space mode in case of a uaccess (copy_to_user) and uses
e.g. the mvcp instruction to access user space. However the kernel
will stay in home space mode if the mvcos instruction is available
- secondary space mode in case of futex atomic operations, so that the
instructions come from primary address space and data from secondary
In case of KVM, the kernel runs in home space mode, but cr1 gets switched
to contain the gmap asce before the SIE instruction gets executed. When
the SIE instruction is finished, cr1 will be switched back to contain the
user asce.
Virtual Addresses on s/390 & z/Architecture
A virtual address on s/390 is made up of 3 parts
The SX (segment index, roughly corresponding to the PGD & PMD in Linux
terminology) being bits 1-11.
The PX (page index, corresponding to the page table entry (pte) in Linux
terminology) being bits 12-19.
The remaining bits BX (the byte index are the offset in the page )
i.e. bits 20 to 31.
On z/Architecture in linux we currently make up an address from 4 parts.
The region index bits (RX) 0-32 we currently use bits 22-32
The segment index (SX) being bits 33-43
The page index (PX) being bits 44-51
The byte index (BX) being bits 52-63
1) s/390 has no PMD so the PMD is really the PGD also.
A lot of this stuff is defined in pgtable.h.
2) Also seeing as s/390's page indexes are only 1k in size
(bits 12-19 x 4 bytes per pte ) we use 1 ( page 4k )
to make the best use of memory by updating 4 segment indices
entries each time we mess with a PMD & use offsets
0,1024,2048 & 3072 in this page as for our segment indexes.
On z/Architecture our page indexes are now 2k in size
( bits 12-19 x 8 bytes per pte ) we do a similar trick
but only mess with 2 segment indices each time we mess with
a PMD.
3) As z/Architecture supports up to a massive 5-level page table lookup we
can only use 3 currently on Linux ( as this is all the generic kernel
currently supports ) however this may change in future
this allows us to access ( according to my sums )
4TB of virtual storage per process i.e.
4096*512(PTES)*1024(PMDS)*2048(PGD) = 4398046511104 bytes,
enough for another 2 or 3 of years I think :-).
to do this we use a region-third-table designation type in
our address space control registers.
The Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture Kernel Task Structure
Each process/thread under Linux for S390 has its own kernel task_struct
defined in linux/include/linux/sched.h
The S390 on initialisation & resuming of a process on a cpu sets
the __LC_KERNEL_STACK variable in the spare prefix area for this cpu
(which we use for per-processor globals).
The kernel stack pointer is intimately tied with the task structure for
each processor as follows.
* 1 page kernel stack *
* ( 4K ) *
* 1 page task_struct *
* ( 4K ) *
8K aligned ************************
* 2 page kernel stack *
* ( 8K ) *
* 2 page task_struct *
* ( 8K ) *
16K aligned ************************
What this means is that we don't need to dedicate any register or global
variable to point to the current running process & can retrieve it with the
following very simple construct for s/390 & one very similar for z/Architecture.
static inline struct task_struct * get_current(void)
struct task_struct *current;
__asm__("lhi %0,-8192\n\t"
"nr %0,15"
: "=r" (current) );
return current;
i.e. just anding the current kernel stack pointer with the mask -8192.
Thankfully because Linux doesn't have support for nested IO interrupts
& our devices have large buffers can survive interrupts being shut for
short amounts of time we don't need a separate stack for interrupts.
Register Usage & Stackframes on Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture
This is the code that gcc produces at the top & the bottom of
each function. It usually is fairly consistent & similar from
function to function & if you know its layout you can probably
make some headway in finding the ultimate cause of a problem
after a crash without a source level debugger.
Note: To follow stackframes requires a knowledge of C or Pascal &
limited knowledge of one assembly language.
It should be noted that there are some differences between the
s/390 and z/Architecture stack layouts as the z/Architecture stack layout
didn't have to maintain compatibility with older linkage formats.
This is a built in compiler function for runtime allocation
of extra space on the callers stack which is obviously freed
up on function exit ( e.g. the caller may choose to allocate nothing
of a buffer of 4k if required for temporary purposes ), it generates
very efficient code ( a few cycles ) when compared to alternatives
like malloc.
automatics: These are local variables on the stack,
i.e they aren't in registers & they aren't static.
This is a pointer to the stack pointer before entering a
framed functions ( see frameless function ) prologue got by
dereferencing the address of the current stack pointer,
i.e. got by accessing the 32 bit value at the stack pointers
current location.
This is a pointer to the back of the literal pool which
is an area just behind each procedure used to store constants
in each function.
call-clobbered: The caller probably needs to save these registers if there
is something of value in them, on the stack or elsewhere before making a
call to another procedure so that it can restore it later.
The code generated by the compiler to return to the caller.
A frameless function in Linux for s390 & z/Architecture is one which doesn't
need more than the register save area (96 bytes on s/390, 160 on z/Architecture)
given to it by the caller.
A frameless function never:
1) Sets up a back chain.
2) Calls alloca.
3) Calls other normal functions
4) Has automatics.
This is a pointer to the global-offset-table in ELF
( Executable Linkable Format, Linux'es most common executable format ),
all globals & shared library objects are found using this pointer.
ELF shared libraries are typically only loaded when routines in the shared
library are actually first called at runtime. This is lazy binding.
This is a table found from the GOT which contains pointers to routines
in other shared libraries which can't be called to by easier means.
The code generated by the compiler to set up the stack frame.
This is extra area allocated on the stack of the calling function if the
parameters for the callee's cannot all be put in registers, the same
area can be reused by each function the caller calls.
A COFF executable format based concept of a procedure reference
actually being 8 bytes or more as opposed to a simple pointer to the routine.
This is typically defined as follows
Routine Descriptor offset 0=Pointer to Function
Routine Descriptor offset 4=Pointer to Table of Contents
The table of contents/TOC is roughly equivalent to a GOT pointer.
& it means that shared libraries etc. can be shared between several
environments each with their own TOC.
static-chain: This is used in nested functions a concept adopted from pascal
by gcc not used in ansi C or C++ ( although quite useful ), basically it
is a pointer used to reference local variables of enclosing functions.
You might come across this stuff once or twice in your lifetime.
The function below should return 11 though gcc may get upset & toss warnings
about unused variables.
int FunctionA(int a)
int b;
FunctionC(int c)
s/390 & z/Architecture Register usage
r0 used by syscalls/assembly call-clobbered
r1 used by syscalls/assembly call-clobbered
r2 argument 0 / return value 0 call-clobbered
r3 argument 1 / return value 1 (if long long) call-clobbered
r4 argument 2 call-clobbered
r5 argument 3 call-clobbered
r6 argument 4 saved
r7 pointer-to arguments 5 to ... saved
r8 this & that saved
r9 this & that saved
r10 static-chain ( if nested function ) saved
r11 frame-pointer ( if function used alloca ) saved
r12 got-pointer saved
r13 base-pointer saved
r14 return-address saved
r15 stack-pointer saved
f0 argument 0 / return value ( float/double ) call-clobbered
f2 argument 1 call-clobbered
f4 z/Architecture argument 2 saved
f6 z/Architecture argument 3 saved
The remaining floating points
f1,f3,f5 f7-f15 are call-clobbered.
1) The only requirement is that registers which are used
by the callee are saved, e.g. the compiler is perfectly
capable of using r11 for purposes other than a frame a
frame pointer if a frame pointer is not needed.
2) In functions with variable arguments e.g. printf the calling procedure
is identical to one without variable arguments & the same number of
parameters. However, the prologue of this function is somewhat more
hairy owing to it having to move these parameters to the stack to
get va_start, va_arg & va_end to work.
3) Access registers are currently unused by gcc but are used in
the kernel. Possibilities exist to use them at the moment for
temporary storage but it isn't recommended.
4) Only 4 of the floating point registers are used for
parameter passing as older machines such as G3 only have only 4
& it keeps the stack frame compatible with other compilers.
However with IEEE floating point emulation under linux on the
older machines you are free to use the other 12.
5) A long long or double parameter cannot be have the
first 4 bytes in a register & the second four bytes in the
outgoing args area. It must be purely in the outgoing args
area if crossing this boundary.
6) Floating point parameters are mixed with outgoing args
on the outgoing args area in the order the are passed in as parameters.
7) Floating point arguments 2 & 3 are saved in the outgoing args area for
Stack Frame Layout
s/390 z/Architecture
0 0 back chain ( a 0 here signifies end of back chain )
4 8 eos ( end of stack, not used on Linux for S390 used in other linkage formats )
8 16 glue used in other s/390 linkage formats for saved routine descriptors etc.
12 24 glue used in other s/390 linkage formats for saved routine descriptors etc.
16 32 scratch area
20 40 scratch area
24 48 saved r6 of caller function
28 56 saved r7 of caller function
32 64 saved r8 of caller function
36 72 saved r9 of caller function
40 80 saved r10 of caller function
44 88 saved r11 of caller function
48 96 saved r12 of caller function
52 104 saved r13 of caller function
56 112 saved r14 of caller function
60 120 saved r15 of caller function
64 128 saved f4 of caller function
72 132 saved f6 of caller function
80 undefined
96 160 outgoing args passed from caller to callee
96+x 160+x possible stack alignment ( 8 bytes desirable )
96+x+y 160+x+y alloca space of caller ( if used )
96+x+y+z 160+x+y+z automatics of caller ( if used )
0 back-chain
A sample program with comments.
Comments on the function test
1) It didn't need to set up a pointer to the constant pool gpr13 as it is not
used ( :-( ).
2) This is a frameless function & no stack is bought.
3) The compiler was clever enough to recognise that it could return the
value in r2 as well as use it for the passed in parameter ( :-) ).
4) The basr ( branch relative & save ) trick works as follows the instruction
has a special case with r0,r0 with some instruction operands is understood as
the literal value 0, some risc architectures also do this ). So now
we are branching to the next address & the address new program counter is
in r13,so now we subtract the size of the function prologue we have executed
+ the size of the literal pool to get to the top of the literal pool
0040037c int test(int b)
{ # Function prologue below
40037c: 90 de f0 34 stm %r13,%r14,52(%r15) # Save registers r13 & r14
400380: 0d d0 basr %r13,%r0 # Set up pointer to constant pool using
400382: a7 da ff fa ahi %r13,-6 # basr trick
# Huge main program
400386: a7 2a 00 05 ahi %r2,5 # add 5 to r2
# Function epilogue below
40038a: 98 de f0 34 lm %r13,%r14,52(%r15) # restore registers r13 & 14
40038e: 07 fe br %r14 # return
Comments on the function main
1) The compiler did this function optimally ( 8-) )
Literal pool for main.
400390: ff ff ff ec .long 0xffffffec
main(int argc,char *argv[])
{ # Function prologue below
400394: 90 bf f0 2c stm %r11,%r15,44(%r15) # Save necessary registers
400398: 18 0f lr %r0,%r15 # copy stack pointer to r0
40039a: a7 fa ff a0 ahi %r15,-96 # Make area for callee saving
40039e: 0d d0 basr %r13,%r0 # Set up r13 to point to
4003a0: a7 da ff f0 ahi %r13,-16 # literal pool
4003a4: 50 00 f0 00 st %r0,0(%r15) # Save backchain
return(test(5)); # Main Program Below
4003a8: 58 e0 d0 00 l %r14,0(%r13) # load relative address of test from
# literal pool
4003ac: a7 28 00 05 lhi %r2,5 # Set first parameter to 5
4003b0: 4d ee d0 00 bas %r14,0(%r14,%r13) # jump to test setting r14 as return
# address using branch & save instruction.
# Function Epilogue below
4003b4: 98 bf f0 8c lm %r11,%r15,140(%r15)# Restore necessary registers.
4003b8: 07 fe br %r14 # return to do program exit
Compiler updates
main(int argc,char *argv[])
4004fc: 90 7f f0 1c stm %r7,%r15,28(%r15)
400500: a7 d5 00 04 bras %r13,400508 <main+0xc>
400504: 00 40 04 f4 .long 0x004004f4
# compiler now puts constant pool in code to so it saves an instruction
400508: 18 0f lr %r0,%r15
40050a: a7 fa ff a0 ahi %r15,-96
40050e: 50 00 f0 00 st %r0,0(%r15)
400512: 58 10 d0 00 l %r1,0(%r13)
400516: a7 28 00 05 lhi %r2,5
40051a: 0d e1 basr %r14,%r1
# compiler adds 1 extra instruction to epilogue this is done to
# avoid processor pipeline stalls owing to data dependencies on g5 &
# above as register 14 in the old code was needed directly after being loaded
# by the lm %r11,%r15,140(%r15) for the br %14.
40051c: 58 40 f0 98 l %r4,152(%r15)
400520: 98 7f f0 7c lm %r7,%r15,124(%r15)
400524: 07 f4 br %r4
Hartmut ( our compiler developer ) also has been threatening to take out the
stack backchain in optimised code as this also causes pipeline stalls, you
have been warned.
64 bit z/Architecture code disassembly
If you understand the stuff above you'll understand the stuff
below too so I'll avoid repeating myself & just say that
some of the instructions have g's on the end of them to indicate
they are 64 bit & the stack offsets are a bigger,
the only other difference you'll find between 32 & 64 bit is that
we now use f4 & f6 for floating point arguments on 64 bit.
00000000800005b0 <test>:
int test(int b)
800005b0: a7 2a 00 05 ahi %r2,5
800005b4: b9 14 00 22 lgfr %r2,%r2 # downcast to integer
800005b8: 07 fe br %r14
800005ba: 07 07 bcr 0,%r7
00000000800005bc <main>:
main(int argc,char *argv[])
800005bc: eb bf f0 58 00 24 stmg %r11,%r15,88(%r15)
800005c2: b9 04 00 1f lgr %r1,%r15
800005c6: a7 fb ff 60 aghi %r15,-160
800005ca: e3 10 f0 00 00 24 stg %r1,0(%r15)
800005d0: a7 29 00 05 lghi %r2,5
# brasl allows jumps > 64k & is overkill here bras would do fune
800005d4: c0 e5 ff ff ff ee brasl %r14,800005b0 <test>
800005da: e3 40 f1 10 00 04 lg %r4,272(%r15)
800005e0: eb bf f0 f8 00 04 lmg %r11,%r15,248(%r15)
800005e6: 07 f4 br %r4
Compiling programs for debugging on Linux for s/390 & z/Architecture
-gdwarf-2 now works it should be considered the default debugging
format for s/390 & z/Architecture as it is more reliable for debugging
shared libraries, normal -g debugging works much better now
Thanks to the IBM java compiler developers bug reports.
This is typically done adding/appending the flags -g or -gdwarf-2 to the
CFLAGS & LDFLAGS variables Makefile of the program concerned.
If using gdb & you would like accurate displays of registers &
stack traces compile without optimisation i.e make sure
that there is no -O2 or similar on the CFLAGS line of the Makefile &
the emitted gcc commands, obviously this will produce worse code
( not advisable for shipment ) but it is an aid to the debugging process.
This aids debugging because the compiler will copy parameters passed in
in registers onto the stack so backtracing & looking at passed in
parameters will work, however some larger programs which use inline functions
will not compile without optimisation.
Debugging with optimisation has since much improved after fixing
some bugs, please make sure you are using gdb-5.0 or later developed
after Nov'2000.
Debugging under VM
Addresses & values in the VM debugger are always hex never decimal
Address ranges are of the format <HexValue1>-<HexValue2> or
For example, the address range 0x2000 to 0x3000 can be described as 2000-3000
or 2000.1000
The VM Debugger is case insensitive.
VM's strengths are usually other debuggers weaknesses you can get at any
resource no matter how sensitive e.g. memory management resources, change
address translation in the PSW. For kernel hacking you will reap dividends if
you get good at it.
The VM Debugger displays operators but not operands, and also the debugger
displays useful information on the same line as the author of the code probably
felt that it was a good idea not to go over the 80 columns on the screen.
This isn't as unintuitive as it may seem as the s/390 instructions are easy to
decode mentally and you can make a good guess at a lot of them as all the
operands are nibble (half byte aligned).
So if you have an objdump listing by hand, it is quite easy to follow, and if
you don't have an objdump listing keep a copy of the s/390 Reference Summary
or alternatively the s/390 principles of operation next to you.
e.g. even I can guess that
0001AFF8' LR 180F CC 0
is a ( load register ) lr r0,r15
Also it is very easy to tell the length of a 390 instruction from the 2 most
significant bits in the instruction (not that this info is really useful except
if you are trying to make sense of a hexdump of code).
Here is a table
Bits Instruction Length
00 2 Bytes
01 4 Bytes
10 4 Bytes
11 6 Bytes
The debugger also displays other useful info on the same line such as the
addresses being operated on destination addresses of branches & condition codes.
00019736' AHI A7DAFF0E CC 1
000198BA' BRC A7840004 -> 000198C2' CC 0
000198CE' STM 900EF068 >> 0FA95E78 CC 2
Useful VM debugger commands
I suppose I'd better mention this before I start
to list the current active traces do
there can be a maximum of 255 of these per set
( more about trace sets later ).
To stop traces issue a
To delete a particular breakpoint issue
TR DEL <breakpoint number>
The PA1 key drops to CP mode so you can issue debugger commands,
Doing alt c (on my 3270 console at least ) clears the screen.
hitting b <enter> comes back to the running operating system
from cp mode ( in our case linux ).
It is typically useful to add shortcuts to your profile.exec file
if you have one ( this is roughly equivalent to autoexec.bat in DOS ).
file here are a few from mine.
/* this gives me command history on issuing f12 */
set pf12 retrieve
/* this continues */
set pf8 imm b
/* goes to trace set a */
set pf1 imm tr goto a
/* goes to trace set b */
set pf2 imm tr goto b
/* goes to trace set c */
set pf3 imm tr goto c
Instruction Tracing
Setting a simple breakpoint
TR I PSWA <address>
To debug a particular function try
TR I R <function address range>
TR I on its own will single step.
TR I DATA <MNEMONIC> <OPTIONAL RANGE> will trace for particular mnemonics
TR I DATA 4D R 0197BC.4000
will trace for BAS'es ( opcode 4D ) in the range 0197BC.4000
if you were inclined you could add traces for all branch instructions &
suffix them with the run prefix so you would have a backtrace on screen
when a program crashes.
TR BR <INTO OR FROM> will trace branches into or out of an address.
TR BR INTO 0 is often quite useful if a program is getting awkward & deciding
to branch to 0 & crashing as this will stop at the address before in jumps to 0.
TR I R <address range> RUN cmd d g
single steps a range of addresses but stays running &
displays the gprs on each step.
Displaying & modifying Registers
D G will display all the gprs
Adding a extra G to all the commands is necessary to access the full 64 bit
content in VM on z/Architecture. Obviously this isn't required for access
registers as these are still 32 bit.
e.g. DGG instead of DG
D X will display all the control registers
D AR will display all the access registers
D AR4-7 will display access registers 4 to 7
CPU ALL D G will display the GRPS of all CPUS in the configuration
D PSW will display the current PSW
st PSW 2000 will put the value 2000 into the PSW &
cause crash your machine.
D PREFIX displays the prefix offset
Displaying Memory
To display memory mapped using the current PSW's mapping try
D <range>
To make VM display a message each time it hits a particular address and
continue try
D I<range> will disassemble/display a range of instructions.
ST addr 32 bit word will store a 32 bit aligned address
D T<range> will display the EBCDIC in an address (if you are that way inclined)
D R<range> will display real addresses ( without DAT ) but with prefixing.
There are other complex options to display if you need to get at say home space
but are in primary space the easiest thing to do is to temporarily
modify the PSW to the other addressing mode, display the stuff & then
restore it.
If you want to issue a debugger command without halting your virtual machine
with the PA1 key try prefixing the command with #CP e.g.
#cp tr i pswa 2000
also suffixing most debugger commands with RUN will cause them not
to stop just display the mnemonic at the current instruction on the console.
If you have several breakpoints you want to put into your program &
you get fed up of cross referencing with
you can do the following trick for several symbols.
grep do_signal
which emits the following among other things
0001f4e0 T do_signal
now you can do
TR I PSWA 0001f4e0 cmd msg * do_signal
This sends a message to your own console each time do_signal is entered.
( As an aside I wrote a perl script once which automatically generated a REXX
script with breakpoints on every kernel procedure, this isn't a good idea
because there are thousands of these routines & VM can only set 255 breakpoints
at a time so you nearly had to spend as long pruning the file down as you would
entering the msgs by hand), however, the trick might be useful for a single
object file. In the 3270 terminal emulator x3270 there is a very useful option
in the file menu called "Save Screen In File" - this is very good for keeping a
copy of traces.
From CMS help <command name> will give you online help on a particular command.
Also CP has a file called profile.exec which automatically gets called
on startup of CMS ( like autoexec.bat ), keeping on a DOS analogy session
CP has a feature similar to doskey, it may be useful for you to
use profile.exec to define some keystrokes.
This does a single step in VM on pressing F8.
SET PF10 ^
This sets up the ^ key.
which can be used for ^c (ctrl-c),^z (ctrl-z) which can't be typed directly
into some 3270 consoles.
SET PF11 ^-
This types the starting keystrokes for a sysrq see SysRq below.
This retrieves command history on pressing F12.
Sometimes in VM the display is set up to scroll automatically this
can be very annoying if there are messages you wish to look at
to stop this do
TERM MORE 255 255
This will nearly stop automatic screen updates, however it will
cause a denial of service if lots of messages go to the 3270 console,
so it would be foolish to use this as the default on a production machine.
Tracing particular processes
The kernel's text segment is intentionally at an address in memory that it will
very seldom collide with text segments of user programs ( thanks Martin ),
this simplifies debugging the kernel.
However it is quite common for user processes to have addresses which collide
this can make debugging a particular process under VM painful under normal
circumstances as the process may change when doing a
TR I R <address range>.
Thankfully after reading VM's online help I figured out how to debug
I particular process.
Your first problem is to find the STD ( segment table designation )
of the program you wish to debug.
There are several ways you can do this here are a few
1) objdump --syms <program to be debugged> | grep main
To get the address of main in the program.
tr i pswa <address of main>
Start the program, if VM drops to CP on what looks like the entry
point of the main function this is most likely the process you wish to debug.
Now do a D X13 or D XG13 on z/Architecture.
On 31 bit the STD is bits 1-19 ( the STO segment table origin )
& 25-31 ( the STL segment table length ) of CR13.
now type
TR I R STD <CR13's value> 0.7fffffff
TR I R STD 8F32E1FF 0.7fffffff
Another very useful variation is
TR STORE INTO STD <CR13's value> <address range>
for finding out when a particular variable changes.
An alternative way of finding the STD of a currently running process
is to do the following, ( this method is more complex but
could be quite convenient if you aren't updating the kernel much &
so your kernel structures will stay constant for a reasonable period of
time ).
grep task /proc/<pid>/status
from this you should see something like
task: 0f160000 ksp: 0f161de8 pt_regs: 0f161f68
This now gives you a pointer to the task structure.
Now make CC:="s390-gcc -g" kernel/sched.s
To get the task_struct stabinfo.
( task_struct is defined in include/linux/sched.h ).
Now we want to look at
on my machine the active_mm in the task structure stab is
its offset is 672/8=84=0x54
the pgd member in the mm_struct stab is
so its offset is 96/8=12=0xc
so we'll
hexdump -s 0xf160054 /dev/mem | more
i.e. task_struct+active_mm offset
to look at the active_mm member
f160054 0fee cc60 0019 e334 0000 0000 0000 0011
hexdump -s 0x0feecc6c /dev/mem | more
i.e. active_mm+pgd offset
feecc6c 0f2c 0000 0000 0001 0000 0001 0000 0010
we get something like
now do
TR I R STD <pgd|0x7f> 0.7fffffff
i.e. the 0x7f is added because the pgd only
gives the page table origin & we need to set the low bits
to the maximum possible segment table length.
TR I R STD 0f2c007f 0.7fffffff
on z/Architecture you'll probably need to do
TR I R STD <pgd|0x7> 0.ffffffffffffffff
to set the TableType to 0x1 & the Table length to 3.
Tracing Program Exceptions
If you get a crash which says something like
illegal operation or specification exception followed by a register dump
You can restart linux & trace these using the tr prog <range or value> trace
The most common ones you will normally be tracing for is
1=operation exception
2=privileged operation exception
4=protection exception
5=addressing exception
6=specification exception
10=segment translation exception
11=page translation exception
The full list of these is on page 22 of the current s/390 Reference Summary.
tr prog 10 will trace segment translation exceptions.
tr prog on its own will trace all program interruption codes.
Trace Sets
On starting VM you are initially in the INITIAL trace set.
You can do a Q TR to verify this.
If you have a complex tracing situation where you wish to wait for instance
till a driver is open before you start tracing IO, but know in your
heart that you are going to have to make several runs through the code till you
have a clue whats going on.
What you can do is
TR I PSWA <Driver open address>
hit b to continue till breakpoint
reach the breakpoint
now do your
TR IO 7c08-7c09 inst int run
or whatever the IO channels you wish to trace are & hit b
To got back to the initial trace set do
& the TR I PSWA <Driver open address> will be the only active breakpoint again.
Tracing linux syscalls under VM
Syscalls are implemented on Linux for S390 by the Supervisor call instruction
(SVC). There 256 possibilities of these as the instruction is made up of a 0xA
opcode and the second byte being the syscall number. They are traced using the
simple command:
TR SVC <Optional value or range>
the syscalls are defined in linux/arch/s390/include/asm/unistd.h
e.g. to trace all file opens just do
TR SVC 5 ( as this is the syscall number of open )
SMP Specific commands
To find out how many cpus you have
Q CPUS displays all the CPU's available to your virtual machine
To find the cpu that the current cpu VM debugger commands are being directed at
do Q CPU to change the current cpu VM debugger commands are being directed at do
CPU <desired cpu no>
On a SMP guest issue a command to all CPUs try prefixing the command with cpu
all. To issue a command to a particular cpu try cpu <cpu number> e.g.
CPU 01 TR I R 2000.3000
If you are running on a guest with several cpus & you have a IO related problem
& cannot follow the flow of code but you know it isn't smp related.
from the bash prompt issue
shutdown -h now or halt.
do a Q CPUS to find out how many cpus you have
detach each one of them from cp except cpu 0
by issuing a
DETACH CPU 01-(number of cpus in configuration)
& boot linux again.
TR SIGP will trace inter processor signal processor instructions.
DEFINE CPU 01-(number in configuration)
will get your guests cpus back.
Help for displaying ascii textstrings
On the very latest VM Nucleus'es VM can now display ascii
( thanks Neale for the hint ) by doing
D TX<lowaddr>.<len>
D TX0.100
Under older VM debuggers (I love EBDIC too) you can use following little
program which converts a command line of hex digits to ascii text. It can be
compiled under linux and you can copy the hex digits from your x3270 terminal
to your xterm if you are debugging from a linuxbox.
This is quite useful when looking at a parameter passed in as a text string
under VM ( unless you are good at decoding ASCII in your head ).
e.g. consider tracing an open syscall
We have stopped at a breakpoint
000151B0' SVC 0A05 -> 0001909A' CC 0
D 20.8 to check the SVC old psw in the prefix area and see was it from userspace
(for the layout of the prefix area consult the "Fixed Storage Locations"
chapter of the s/390 Reference Summary if you have it available).
V00000020 070C2000 800151B2
The problem state bit wasn't set & it's also too early in the boot sequence
for it to be a userspace SVC if it was we would have to temporarily switch the
psw to user space addressing so we could get at the first parameter of the open
in gpr2.
Next do a
D G2
GPR 2 = 00014CB4
Now display what gpr2 is pointing to
D 00014CB4.20
V00014CB4 2F646576 2F636F6E 736F6C65 00001BF5
V00014CC4 FC00014C B4001001 E0001000 B8070707
Now copy the text till the first 00 hex ( which is the end of the string
to an xterm & do hex2ascii on it.
hex2ascii 2F646576 2F636F6E 736F6C65 00
Decoded Hex:=/ d e v / c o n s o l e 0x00
We were opening the console device,
You can compile the code below yourself for practice :-),
* hex2ascii.c
* a useful little tool for converting a hexadecimal command line to ascii
* Author(s): Denis Joseph Barrow (,
* (C) 2000 IBM Deutschland Entwicklung GmbH, IBM Corporation.
#include <stdio.h>
int main(int argc,char *argv[])
int cnt1,cnt2,len,toggle=0;
int startcnt=1;
unsigned char c,hex;
printf("Decoded Hex:=");
case 0:
case 1:
printf("0x%02X ",(int)hex);
printf(" ");
Stack tracing under VM
A basic backtrace
Here are the tricks I use 9 out of 10 times it works pretty well,
When your backchain reaches a dead end
This can happen when an exception happens in the kernel and the kernel is
entered twice. If you reach the NULL pointer at the end of the back chain you
should be able to sniff further back if you follow the following tricks.
1) A kernel address should be easy to recognise since it is in
primary space & the problem state bit isn't set & also
The Hi bit of the address is set.
2) Another backchain should also be easy to recognise since it is an
address pointing to another address approximately 100 bytes or 0x70 hex
behind the current stackpointer.
Here is some practice.
boot the kernel & hit PA1 at some random time
d g to display the gprs, this should display something like
GPR 0 = 00000001 00156018 0014359C 00000000
GPR 4 = 00000001 001B8888 000003E0 00000000
GPR 8 = 00100080 00100084 00000000 000FE000
GPR 12 = 00010400 8001B2DC 8001B36A 000FFED8
Note that GPR14 is a return address but as we are real men we are going to
trace the stack.
display 0x40 bytes after the stack pointer.
V000FFED8 000FFF38 8001B838 80014C8E 000FFF38
V000FFEE8 00000000 00000000 000003E0 00000000
V000FFEF8 00100080 00100084 00000000 000FE000
V000FFF08 00010400 8001B2DC 8001B36A 000FFED8
Ah now look at whats in sp+56 (sp+0x38) this is 8001B36A our saved r14 if
you look above at our stackframe & also agrees with GPR14.
now backchain
d 000FFF38.40
we now are taking the contents of SP to get our first backchain.
V000FFF38 000FFFA0 00000000 00014995 00147094
V000FFF48 00147090 001470A0 000003E0 00000000
V000FFF58 00100080 00100084 00000000 001BF1D0
V000FFF68 00010400 800149BA 80014CA6 000FFF38
This displays a 2nd return address of 80014CA6
now do d 000FFFA0.40 for our 3rd backchain
V000FFFA0 04B52002 0001107F 00000000 00000000
V000FFFB0 00000000 00000000 FF000000 0001107F
V000FFFC0 00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000
V000FFFD0 00010400 80010802 8001085A 000FFFA0
our 3rd return address is 8001085A
as the 04B52002 looks suspiciously like rubbish it is fair to assume that the
kernel entry routines for the sake of optimisation don't set up a backchain.
now look at to see if the addresses make any sense.
grep -i 0001b3
outputs among other things
0001b304 T cpu_idle
so 8001B36A
is cpu_idle+0x66 ( quiet the cpu is asleep, don't wake it )
grep -i 00014
produces among other things
00014a78 T start_kernel
so 0014CA6 is start_kernel+some hex number I can't add in my head.
grep -i 00108
this produces
00010800 T _stext
so 8001085A is _stext+0x5a
Congrats you've done your first backchain.
s/390 & z/Architecture IO Overview
I am not going to give a course in 390 IO architecture as this would take me
quite a while and I'm no expert. Instead I'll give a 390 IO architecture
summary for Dummies. If you have the s/390 principles of operation available
read this instead. If nothing else you may find a few useful keywords in here
and be able to use them on a web search engine to find more useful information.
Unlike other bus architectures modern 390 systems do their IO using mostly
fibre optics and devices such as tapes and disks can be shared between several
mainframes. Also S390 can support up to 65536 devices while a high end PC based
system might be choking with around 64.
Here is some of the common IO terminology:
This is the logical number most IO commands use to talk to an IO device. There
can be up to 0x10000 (65536) of these in a configuration, typically there are a
few hundred. Under VM for simplicity they are allocated contiguously, however
on the native hardware they are not. They typically stay consistent between
boots provided no new hardware is inserted or removed.
Under Linux for s390 we use these as IRQ's and also when issuing an IO command
of the device we wish to talk to. The most important of these instructions are
START SUBCHANNEL (to start IO), TEST SUBCHANNEL (to check whether the IO
completed successfully) and HALT SUBCHANNEL (to kill IO). A subchannel can have
up to 8 channel paths to a device, this offers redundancy if one is not
Device Number:
This number remains static and is closely tied to the hardware. There are 65536
of these, made up of a CHPID (Channel Path ID, the most significant 8 bits) and
another lsb 8 bits. These remain static even if more devices are inserted or
removed from the hardware. There is a 1 to 1 mapping between subchannels and
device numbers, provided devices aren't inserted or removed.
Channel Control Words:
CCWs are linked lists of instructions initially pointed to by an operation
request block (ORB), which is initially given to Start Subchannel (SSCH)
command along with the subchannel number for the IO subsystem to process
while the CPU continues executing normal code.
CCWs come in two flavours, Format 0 (24 bit for backward compatibility) and
Format 1 (31 bit). These are typically used to issue read and write (and many
other) instructions. They consist of a length field and an absolute address
Each IO typically gets 1 or 2 interrupts, one for channel end (primary status)
when the channel is idle, and the second for device end (secondary status).
Sometimes you get both concurrently. You check how the IO went on by issuing a
TEST SUBCHANNEL at each interrupt, from which you receive an Interruption
response block (IRB). If you get channel and device end status in the IRB
without channel checks etc. your IO probably went okay. If you didn't you
probably need to examine the IRB, extended status word etc.
If an error occurs, more sophisticated control units have a facility known as
concurrent sense. This means that if an error occurs Extended sense information
will be presented in the Extended status word in the IRB. If not you have to
issue a subsequent SENSE CCW command after the test subchannel.
TPI (Test pending interrupt) can also be used for polled IO, but in
multitasking multiprocessor systems it isn't recommended except for
checking special cases (i.e. non looping checks for pending IO etc.).
Store Subchannel and Modify Subchannel can be used to examine and modify
operating characteristics of a subchannel (e.g. channel paths).
Other IO related Terms:
Sysplex: S390's Clustering Technology
QDIO: S390's new high speed IO architecture to support devices such as gigabit
ethernet, this architecture is also designed to be forward compatible with
upcoming 64 bit machines.
General Concepts
Input Output Processors (IOP's) are responsible for communicating between
the mainframe CPU's & the channel & relieve the mainframe CPU's from the
burden of communicating with IO devices directly, this allows the CPU's to
concentrate on data processing.
IOP's can use one or more links ( known as channel paths ) to talk to each
IO device. It first checks for path availability & chooses an available one,
then starts ( & sometimes terminates IO ).
There are two types of channel path: ESCON & the Parallel IO interface.
IO devices are attached to control units, control units provide the
logic to interface the channel paths & channel path IO protocols to
the IO devices, they can be integrated with the devices or housed separately
& often talk to several similar devices ( typical examples would be raid
controllers or a control unit which connects to 1000 3270 terminals ).
| +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +----------+ +----------+ |
| | CPU | | CPU | | CPU | | CPU | | Main | | Expanded | |
| | | | | | | | | | Memory | | Storage | |
| +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +-----+ +----------+ +----------+ |
| IOP | IOP | IOP |
| C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C | C |
|| ||
|| Bus & Tag Channel Path || ESCON
|| ====================== || Channel
|| || || || Path
+----------+ +----------+ +----------+
| | | | | |
| CU | | CU | | CU |
| | | | | |
+----------+ +----------+ +----------+
| | | | |
+----------+ +----------+ +----------+ +----------+ +----------+
|I/O Device| |I/O Device| |I/O Device| |I/O Device| |I/O Device|
+----------+ +----------+ +----------+ +----------+ +----------+
CPU = Central Processing Unit
C = Channel
IOP = IP Processor
CU = Control Unit
The 390 IO systems come in 2 flavours the current 390 machines support both
The Older 360 & 370 Interface,sometimes called the Parallel I/O interface,
sometimes called Bus-and Tag & sometimes Original Equipment Manufacturers
Interface (OEMI).
This byte wide Parallel channel path/bus has parity & data on the "Bus" cable
and control lines on the "Tag" cable. These can operate in byte multiplex mode
for sharing between several slow devices or burst mode and monopolize the
channel for the whole burst. Up to 256 devices can be addressed on one of these
cables. These cables are about one inch in diameter. The maximum unextended
length supported by these cables is 125 Meters but this can be extended up to
2km with a fibre optic channel extended such as a 3044. The maximum burst speed
supported is 4.5 megabytes per second. However, some really old processors
support only transfer rates of 3.0, 2.0 & 1.0 MB/sec.
One of these paths can be daisy chained to up to 8 control units.
ESCON if fibre optic it is also called FICON
Was introduced by IBM in 1990. Has 2 fibre optic cables and uses either leds or
lasers for communication at a signaling rate of up to 200 megabits/sec. As
10bits are transferred for every 8 bits info this drops to 160 megabits/sec
and to 18.6 Megabytes/sec once control info and CRC are added. ESCON only
operates in burst mode.
ESCONs typical max cable length is 3km for the led version and 20km for the
laser version known as XDF (extended distance facility). This can be further
extended by using an ESCON director which triples the above mentioned ranges.
Unlike Bus & Tag as ESCON is serial it uses a packet switching architecture,
the standard Bus & Tag control protocol is however present within the packets.
Up to 256 devices can be attached to each control unit that uses one of these
Common 390 Devices include:
Network adapters typically OSA2,3172's,2116's & OSA-E gigabit ethernet adapters,
Consoles 3270 & 3215 (a teletype emulated under linux for a line mode console).
DASD's direct access storage devices ( otherwise known as hard disks ).
Tape Drives.
CTC ( Channel to Channel Adapters ),
ESCON or Parallel Cables used as a very high speed serial link
between 2 machines.
Debugging IO on s/390 & z/Architecture under VM
Now we are ready to go on with IO tracing commands under VM
A few self explanatory queries:
Q DISK ( This command is CMS specific )
Q OSA on my machine returns
If you have a guest with certain privileges you may be able to see devices
which don't belong to you. To avoid this, add the option V.
Now using the device numbers returned by this command we will
Trace the io starting up on the first device 7c08 & 7c09
In our simplest case we can trace the
start subchannels
like TR SSCH 7C08-7C09
or the halt subchannels
or TR HSCH 7C08-7C09
MSCH's ,STSCH's I think you can guess the rest
A good trick is tracing all the IO's and CCWS and spooling them into the reader
of another VM guest so he can ftp the logfile back to his own machine. I'll do
a small bit of this and give you a look at the output.
1) Spool stdout to VM reader
SP PRT TO (another vm guest ) or * for the local vm guest
2) Fill the reader with the trace
3) Start up linux
i 00c
4) Finish the trace
5) close the reader
6) list reader contents
7) copy it to linux4's minidisk
RECEIVE / LOG TXT A1 ( replace
filel & press F11 to look at it
You should see something like:
00020942' SSCH B2334000 0048813C CC 0 SCH 0000 DEV 7C08
CCW 000FFDF0 E4200100 00487FE8 0000 E4240100 ........
IDAL 0FB76000
00020B0A' I/O DEV 7C08 -> 000197BC' SCH 0000 PARM 00E2C9C4
00021628' TSCH B2354000 >> 00488164 CC 0 SCH 0000 DEV 7C08
KEY 0 FPI C0 CC 0 CTLS 4007
00022238' STSCH B2344000 >> 00488108 CC 0 SCH 0000 DEV 7C08
If you don't like messing up your readed ( because you possibly booted from it )
you can alternatively spool it to another readers guest.
Other common VM device related commands
These commands are listed only because they have
been of use to me in the past & may be of use to
you too. For more complete info on each of the commands
use type HELP <command> from CMS.
detaching devices
DET <devno range>
ATT <devno range> <guest>
attach a device to guest * for your own guest
READY <devno> cause VM to issue a fake interrupt.
The VARY command is normally only available to VM administrators.
VARY ON PATH <path> TO <devno range>
VARY OFF PATH <PATH> FROM <devno range>
This is used to switch on or off channel paths to devices.
Q CHPID <channel path ID>
This displays state of devices using this channel path
D SCHIB <subchannel>
This displays the subchannel information SCHIB block for the device.
this I believe is also only available to administrators.
DEFINE CTC <devno>
defines a virtual CTC channel to channel connection
2 need to be defined on each guest for the CTC driver to use.
COUPLE devno userid remote devno
Joins a local virtual device to a remote virtual device
( commonly used for the CTC driver ).
Building a VM ramdisk under CMS which linux can use
def vfb-<blocksize> <subchannel> <number blocks>
blocksize is commonly 4096 for linux.
Formatting it
format <subchannel> <driver letter e.g. x> (blksize <blocksize>
Sharing a disk between multiple guests
LINK userid devno1 devno2 mode password
GDB on S390
N.B. if compiling for debugging gdb works better without optimisation
( see Compiling programs for debugging )
gdb <victim program> <optional corefile>
Online help
help: gives help on commands
help display
Note gdb's online help is very good use it.
info registers: displays registers other than floating point.
info all-registers: displays floating points as well.
disassemble: disassembles
disassemble without parameters will disassemble the current function
disassemble $pc $pc+10
Viewing & modifying variables
print or p: displays variable or register
e.g. p/x $sp will display the stack pointer
display: prints variable or register each time program stops
display/x $pc will display the program counter
display argc
undisplay : undo's display's
info breakpoints: shows all current breakpoints
info stack: shows stack back trace (if this doesn't work too well, I'll show
you the stacktrace by hand below).
info locals: displays local variables.
info args: display current procedure arguments.
set args: will set argc & argv each time the victim program is invoked.
set <variable>=value
set argc=100
set $pc=0
Modifying execution
step: steps n lines of sourcecode
step steps 1 line.
step 100 steps 100 lines of code.
next: like step except this will not step into subroutines
stepi: steps a single machine code instruction.
e.g. stepi 100
nexti: steps a single machine code instruction but will not step into
finish: will run until exit of the current routine
run: (re)starts a program
cont: continues a program
quit: exits gdb.
sets a breakpoint
break main
break *$pc
break *0x400618
Here's a really useful one for large programs
Set a breakpoint for all functions matching REGEXP
rbr 390
will set a breakpoint with all functions with 390 in their name.
info breakpoints
lists all breakpoints
delete: delete breakpoint by number or delete them all
delete 1 will delete the first breakpoint
delete will delete them all
watch: This will set a watchpoint ( usually hardware assisted ),
This will watch a variable till it changes
watch cnt, will watch the variable cnt till it changes.
As an aside unfortunately gdb's, architecture independent watchpoint code
is inconsistent & not very good, watchpoints usually work but not always.
info watchpoints: Display currently active watchpoints
condition: ( another useful one )
Specify breakpoint number N to break only if COND is true.
Usage is `condition N COND', where N is an integer and COND is an
expression to be evaluated whenever breakpoint N is reached.
User defined functions/macros
define: ( Note this is very very useful,simple & powerful )
usage define <name> <list of commands> end
examples which you should consider putting into .gdbinit in your home directory
define d
disassemble $pc $pc+10
define e
disassemble $pc $pc+10
Other hard to classify stuff
signal n:
sends the victim program a signal.
e.g. signal 3 will send a SIGQUIT.
info signals:
what gdb does when the victim receives certain signals.
list lists current function source
list 1,10 list first 10 lines of current file.
list test.c:1,10
Adds directories to be searched for source if gdb cannot find the source.
(note it is a bit sensitive about slashes)
e.g. To add the root of the filesystem to the searchpath do
directory //
call <function>
This calls a function in the victim program, this is pretty powerful
(gdb) call printf("hello world")
$1 = 11
You might now be thinking that the line above didn't work, something extra had
to be done.
(gdb) call fflush(stdout)
hello world$2 = 0
As an aside the debugger also calls malloc & free under the hood
to make space for the "hello world" string.
1) command completion works just like bash
( if you are a bad typist like me this really helps )
e.g. hit br <TAB> & cursor up & down :-).
2) if you have a debugging problem that takes a few steps to recreate
put the steps into a file called .gdbinit in your current working directory
if you have defined a few extra useful user defined commands put these in
your home directory & they will be read each time gdb is launched.
A typical .gdbinit file might be.
break main
break runtime_exception
stack chaining in gdb by hand
This is done using a the same trick described for VM
p/x (*($sp+56))&0x7fffffff get the first backchain.
For z/Architecture
Replace 56 with 112 & ignore the &0x7fffffff
in the macros below & do nasty casts to longs like the following
as gdb unfortunately deals with printed arguments as ints which
messes up everything.
i.e. here is a 3rd backchain dereference
p/x *(long *)(***(long ***)$sp+112)
this outputs
$5 = 0x528f18
on my machine.
Now you can use
info symbol (*($sp+56))&0x7fffffff
you might see something like.
rl_getc + 36 in section .text telling you what is located at address 0x528f18
Now do.
p/x (*(*$sp+56))&0x7fffffff
This outputs
$6 = 0x528ed0
Now do.
info symbol (*(*$sp+56))&0x7fffffff
rl_read_key + 180 in section .text
now do
p/x (*(**$sp+56))&0x7fffffff
& so on.
Disassembling instructions without debug info
gdb typically complains if there is a lack of debugging
symbols in the disassemble command with
"No function contains specified address." To get around
this do
x/<number lines to disassemble>xi <address>
x/20xi 0x400730
Note: Remember gdb has history just like bash you don't need to retype the
whole line just use the up & down arrows.
For more info
From your linuxbox do
man gdb or info gdb.
core dumps
What a core dump ?,
A core dump is a file generated by the kernel (if allowed) which contains the
registers and all active pages of the program which has crashed.
From this file gdb will allow you to look at the registers, stack trace and
memory of the program as if it just crashed on your system. It is usually
called core and created in the current working directory.
This is very useful in that a customer can mail a core dump to a technical
support department and the technical support department can reconstruct what
happened. Provided they have an identical copy of this program with debugging
symbols compiled in and the source base of this build is available.
In short it is far more useful than something like a crash log could ever hope
to be.
Why have I never seen one ?.
Probably because you haven't used the command
ulimit -c unlimited in bash
to allow core dumps, now do
ulimit -a
to verify that the limit was accepted.
A sample core dump
To create this I'm going to do
ulimit -c unlimited
to launch gdb (my victim app. ) now be bad & do the following from another
telnet/xterm session to the same machine
ps -aux | grep gdb
kill -SIGSEGV <gdb's pid>
or alternatively use killall -SIGSEGV gdb if you have the killall command.
Now look at the core dump.
./gdb core
Displays the following
GNU gdb 4.18
Copyright 1998 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
GDB is free software, covered by the GNU General Public License, and you are
welcome to change it and/or distribute copies of it under certain conditions.
Type "show copying" to see the conditions.
There is absolutely no warranty for GDB. Type "show warranty" for details.
This GDB was configured as "s390-ibm-linux"...
Core was generated by `./gdb'.
Program terminated with signal 11, Segmentation fault.
Reading symbols from /usr/lib/
Reading symbols from /lib/
Reading symbols from /lib/
Reading symbols from /lib/
#0 0x40126d1a in read () from /lib/
Setting up the environment for debugging gdb.
Breakpoint 1 at 0x4dc6f8: file utils.c, line 471.
Breakpoint 2 at 0x4d87a4: file top.c, line 2609.
(top-gdb) info stack
#0 0x40126d1a in read () from /lib/
#1 0x528f26 in rl_getc (stream=0x7ffffde8) at input.c:402
#2 0x528ed0 in rl_read_key () at input.c:381
#3 0x5167e6 in readline_internal_char () at readline.c:454
#4 0x5168ee in readline_internal_charloop () at readline.c:507
#5 0x51692c in readline_internal () at readline.c:521
#6 0x5164fe in readline (prompt=0x7ffff810)
at readline.c:349
#7 0x4d7a8a in command_line_input (prompt=0x564420 "(gdb) ", repeat=1,
annotation_suffix=0x4d6b44 "prompt") at top.c:2091
#8 0x4d6cf0 in command_loop () at top.c:1345
#9 0x4e25bc in main (argc=1, argv=0x7ffffdf4) at main.c:635
This is a program which lists the shared libraries which a library needs,
Note you also get the relocations of the shared library text segments which
help when using objdump --source.
ldd ./gdb
outputs => /usr/lib/ (0x40018000) => /lib/ (0x4005e000) => /lib/ (0x40084000)
/lib/ => /lib/ (0x40000000)
Debugging shared libraries
Most programs use shared libraries, however it can be very painful
when you single step instruction into a function like printf for the
first time & you end up in functions like _dl_runtime_resolve this is
the doing lazy binding, lazy binding is a concept in ELF where
shared library functions are not loaded into memory unless they are
actually used, great for saving memory but a pain to debug.
To get around this either relink the program -static or exit gdb type
export LD_BIND_NOW=true this will stop lazy binding & restart the gdb'ing
the program in question.
Debugging modules
As modules are dynamically loaded into the kernel their address can be
anywhere to get around this use the -m option with insmod to emit a load
map which can be piped into a file if required.
The proc file system
What is it ?.
It is a filesystem created by the kernel with files which are created on demand
by the kernel if read, or can be used to modify kernel parameters,
it is a powerful concept.
cat /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
On my machine outputs
telling me ip_forwarding is not on to switch it on I can do
echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
cat it again
cat /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward
On my machine now outputs
IP forwarding is on.
There is a lot of useful info in here best found by going in and having a look
around, so I'll take you through some entries I consider important.
All the processes running on the machine have their own entry defined by
So lets have a look at the init process
cd /proc/1
cat cmdline
init [2]
cd /proc/1/fd
This contains numerical entries of all the open files,
some of these you can cat e.g. stdout (2)
cat /proc/29/maps
on my machine emits
00400000-00478000 r-xp 00000000 5f:00 4103 /bin/bash
00478000-0047e000 rw-p 00077000 5f:00 4103 /bin/bash
0047e000-00492000 rwxp 00000000 00:00 0
40000000-40015000 r-xp 00000000 5f:00 14382 /lib/
40015000-40016000 rw-p 00014000 5f:00 14382 /lib/
40016000-40017000 rwxp 00000000 00:00 0
40017000-40018000 rw-p 00000000 00:00 0
40018000-4001b000 r-xp 00000000 5f:00 14435 /lib/
4001b000-4001c000 rw-p 00002000 5f:00 14435 /lib/
4001c000-4010d000 r-xp 00000000 5f:00 14387 /lib/
4010d000-40111000 rw-p 000f0000 5f:00 14387 /lib/
40111000-40114000 rw-p 00000000 00:00 0
40114000-4011e000 r-xp 00000000 5f:00 14408 /lib/
4011e000-4011f000 rw-p 00009000 5f:00 14408 /lib/
7fffd000-80000000 rwxp ffffe000 00:00 0
Showing us the shared libraries init uses where they are in memory
& memory access permissions for each virtual memory area.
/proc/1/cwd is a softlink to the current working directory.
/proc/1/root is the root of the filesystem for this process.
/proc/1/mem is the current running processes memory which you
can read & write to like a file.
strace uses this sometimes as it is a bit faster than the
rather inefficient ptrace interface for peeking at DATA.
cat status
Name: init
State: S (sleeping)
Pid: 1
PPid: 0
Uid: 0 0 0 0
Gid: 0 0 0 0
VmSize: 408 kB
VmLck: 0 kB
VmRSS: 208 kB
VmData: 24 kB
VmStk: 8 kB
VmExe: 368 kB
VmLib: 0 kB
SigPnd: 0000000000000000
SigBlk: 0000000000000000
SigIgn: 7fffffffd7f0d8fc
SigCgt: 00000000280b2603
CapInh: 00000000fffffeff
CapPrm: 00000000ffffffff
CapEff: 00000000fffffeff
User PSW: 070de000 80414146
task: 004b6000 tss: 004b62d8 ksp: 004b7ca8 pt_regs: 004b7f68
User GPRS:
00000400 00000000 0000000b 7ffffa90
00000000 00000000 00000000 0045d9f4
0045cafc 7ffffa90 7fffff18 0045cb08
00010400 804039e8 80403af8 7ffff8b0
User ACRS:
00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000
00000001 00000000 00000000 00000000
00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000
00000000 00000000 00000000 00000000
Kernel BackChain CallChain BackChain CallChain
004b7ca8 8002bd0c 004b7d18 8002b92c
004b7db8 8005cd50 004b7e38 8005d12a
004b7f08 80019114
Showing among other things memory usage & status of some signals &
the processes'es registers from the kernel task_structure
as well as a backchain which may be useful if a process crashes
in the kernel for some unknown reason.
Some driver debugging techniques
debug feature
Some of our drivers now support a "debug feature" in
/proc/s390dbf see s390dbf.txt in the linux/Documentation directory
for more info.
to switch on the lcs "debug feature"
echo 5 > /proc/s390dbf/lcs/level
& then after the error occurred.
cat /proc/s390dbf/lcs/sprintf >/logfile
the logfile now contains some information which may help
tech support resolve a problem in the field.
high level debugging network drivers
ifconfig is a quite useful command
it gives the current state of network drivers.
If you suspect your network device driver is dead
one way to check is type
ifconfig <network device>
e.g. tr0
You should see something like
tr0 Link encap:16/4 Mbps Token Ring (New) HWaddr 00:04:AC:20:8E:48
inet addr: Bcast: Mask:
RX packets:246134 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 frame:0
TX packets:5 errors:0 dropped:0 overruns:0 carrier:0
collisions:0 txqueuelen:100
if the device doesn't say up
/etc/rc.d/init.d/network start
( this starts the network stack & hopefully calls ifconfig tr0 up ).
ifconfig looks at the output of /proc/net/dev and presents it in a more
presentable form.
Now ping the device from a machine in the same subnet.
if the RX packets count & TX packets counts don't increment you probably
have problems.
cat /proc/net/arp
Do you see any hardware addresses in the cache if not you may have problems.
Next try
ping -c 5 <broadcast_addr> i.e. the Bcast field above in the output of
ifconfig. Do you see any replies from machines other than the local machine
if not you may have problems. also if the TX packets count in ifconfig
hasn't incremented either you have serious problems in your driver
(e.g. the txbusy field of the network device being stuck on )
or you may have multiple network devices connected.
There is a new device layer for channel devices, some
drivers e.g. lcs are registered with this layer.
If the device uses the channel device layer you'll be
able to find what interrupts it uses & the current state
of the device.
See the manpage chandev.8 &type cat /proc/chandev for more info.
This is now supported by linux for s/390 & z/Architecture.
To enable it do compile the kernel with
Kernel Hacking -> Magic SysRq Key Enabled
echo "1" > /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq
also type
echo "8" >/proc/sys/kernel/printk
To make printk output go to console.
On 390 all commands are prefixed with
^-t will show tasks.
^-? or some unknown command will display help.
The sysrq key reading is very picky ( I have to type the keys in an
xterm session & paste them into the x3270 console )
& it may be wise to predefine the keys as described in the VM hints above
This is particularly useful for syncing disks unmounting & rebooting
if the machine gets partially hung.
Read Documentation/sysrq.txt for more info
Enterprise Systems Architecture Reference Summary
Enterprise Systems Architecture Principles of Operation
Hartmut Penners s390 stack frame sheet.
IBM Mainframe Channel Attachment a technology brief from a CISCO webpage
Various bits of man & info pages of Linux.
Linux & GDB source.
Various info & man pages.
CMS Help on tracing commands.
Linux for s/390 Elf Application Binary Interface
Linux for z/Series Elf Application Binary Interface ( Both Highly Recommended )
z/Architecture Principles of Operation SA22-7832-00
Enterprise Systems Architecture/390 Reference Summary SA22-7209-01 & the
Enterprise Systems Architecture/390 Principles of Operation SA22-7201-05
Special Thanks
Special thanks to Neale Ferguson who maintains a much
prettier HTML version of this page at
Bob Grainger Stefan Bader & others for reporting bugs