Debugging the Startup Code With Eclipse and GDB

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Debugging the Startup Code With Eclipse and GDB

Learn more about debugging embedded applications.

· Performance Zone ·
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By default, when debugging an embedded application, the target usually stops at main():

stopped in main

That's usually fine, but what if I want to debug the code out of reset?

I'm using the Eclipse-based NXP MCUXpresso IDE 10.3 in this article, but same or similar things apply to most modern gdb + Eclipse-based IDEs.

Why does the application stop at main? This is because the debugger has set a temporary breakpoint on the main symbol (or function):


Temporary Breakpoint

This is confirmed by the Log in the Debugger Console view:

Temporary Breakpoint in Debugger Console

Temporary Breakpoint in Debugger Console

So what happens is:

  1. Debugger downloads the binary
  2. Debugger sets a temporary breakpoint at main
  3. Debugger issues a reset to the target followed by a 'run'
  4. The target will stop at the temporary breakpoint

Obviously, a simple way to debug the startup code is to set a breakpoint in the startup code itself:

Breakpoint on ResetISR

Breakpoint on ResetISR

Another way is to inspect and change the debugger launch configuration. Because this might be different for each debug configuration, I'll show it for LinkServer, Segger, and PEMicro.


The LinkServer (CMSIS-DAP, LPC-Link2) connection does not have a dedicated 'run' setting. To debug the startup code, I have to change the 'main' to the 'ResetISR' Symbol. To revert back, change the symbol back to 'main'.

Stop on Startup at

Stop on Startup at


With the GNU Mcu Eclipse plugins, the settings are as shown below and easy to change:



To do startup code debugging, disable the 'Continue' option.

P&E (PEMicro)

The screenshot below shows the setting for P&E to set the temporary breakpoint and the 'run on reset' setting, which is easy to find and change:

PEMicro Launch Config

PEMicro Launch Config

To start debugging from the reset vector, simply disable the 'Run on reset' option.


In order to debug the startup code with Eclipse and GDB, I could set a breakpoint in the reset routine, or better, I can change the setting in the Eclipse CDT launch configuration to halt in the ResetISR (or whatever the reset function name is).

Happy Startuping!

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java ,debug ,Performance ,Eclipse ,GNU ,MCU ,embedded app ,MCUXpresso ,tutorial

Published at DZone with permission of Erich Styger , DZone MVB. See the original article here.

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