Over a million developers have joined DZone.
{{announcement.body}}
{{announcement.title}}

JDI: three ways to attach to a Java process

DZone's Guide to

JDI: three ways to attach to a Java process

· Java Zone ·
Free Resource

Download Microservices for Java Developers: A hands-on introduction to frameworks and containers. Brought to you in partnership with Red Hat.

If you've looked at my recent posts, you know I'm working on a plugin for VisualVM, a very useful tool supplied with the JDK. In one example, I showed how to attach to a waiting Java application using a socket-based AttachingConnector. At that time I said that there were two primary ways of attaching to a process with JDI -- via shared memory, and with a socket.

It turns out there is a "third way". Following is an example of why this way is useful, and why it was provided.

When I last wrote JDI programs (in Java 5), I would notice that my target application would start up and print (to stdout) the port on which it was listening, as in the following:

Listening for transport dt_socket at address: 55779

In Java 5, if you detached your debugger from this process, you would get another line to stdout in the target's console, like this:

Listening for transport dt_socket at address: 55779

and this would go on for as long as you chose to attach and detach, etc.

At some point (and I don't know when this started happening), the port on which the target is listening started changing on each detach of an external debugger. If in Java 6 (I'm using u20), you repeatedly attach and detach from the target process, you'll see the following out in the target's console:

Listening for transport dt_socket at address: 55837
ERROR: transport error 202: recv error: Connection reset by peer
Listening for transport dt_socket at address: 55844
ERROR: transport error 202: recv error: Connection reset by peer
Listening for transport dt_socket at address: 55846
ERROR: transport error 202: recv error: Connection reset by peer
Listening for transport dt_socket at address: 55911

If you're writing an application that attaches using the debug port, each time you attach you need to find out what port the target is using. This information is not available from the process itself; in other words, you have to play the usual unpleasant game of capturing console output to know what the port is. Even if you specify a port at target start, you still need to get your hands on the value.

You can still find the original request for a feature to attach to a process by its process ID if you search around the old Java bug reports. The long and short of it: a new AttachingConnector was created, one which attaches by PID. As you know, sometimes it isn't much fun finding a process's PID either. In my case, however, I am writing a plugin for VisualVM, and one thing you get for free when you do that is Visual VM's API, which as you might expect includes calls to get the PID. My goal, then, is to use this new connector in my VisualVM plugin, and I thought it might be appreciated if I shared the details.

I've adapted my test program from an earlier post so that it now outputs the details of each AttachingConnector; the changed code fragment is shown here:

List<AttachingConnector> attachingConnectors = vmMgr.attachingConnectors();
for (AttachingConnector ac: attachingConnectors)
{
  Map paramsMap = ac.defaultArguments();
  Iterator keyIter = paramsMap.keySet().iterator();
  System.out.println("AttachingConnector:  '" + ac.getClass().getName() + "'");
  System.out.println("  name: '" + ac.name() + "'");
  System.out.println("  description: '" + ac.description() + "'");
  System.out.println("  transport name: '" + ac.transport().name() + "'");
  System.out.println("  default arguments:");
  while (keyIter.hasNext())
  {
    String nextKey = keyIter.next();
    System.out.println("    key: '" + nextKey + "'; value: '" + paramsMap.get(nextKey) + "'");
  }
}

The output from this code is shown below:

AttachingConnector:  'com.sun.tools.jdi.SocketAttachingConnector'
 name: 'com.sun.jdi.SocketAttach'
 description: 'Attaches by socket to other VMs'
 transport name: 'dt_socket'
 default arguments:
   key: 'timeout'; value: 'timeout='
   key: 'hostname'; value: 'hostname=AdamsResearch'
   key: 'port'; value: 'port='
AttachingConnector:  'com.sun.tools.jdi.SharedMemoryAttachingConnector'
 name: 'com.sun.jdi.SharedMemoryAttach'
 description: 'Attaches by shared memory to other VMs'
 transport name: 'dt_shmem'
 default arguments:
   key: 'timeout'; value: 'timeout='
   key: 'name'; value: 'name='
AttachingConnector:  'com.sun.tools.jdi.ProcessAttachingConnector'
 name: 'com.sun.jdi.ProcessAttach'
 description: 'Attaches to debuggee by process-id (pid)'
 transport name: 'local'
 default arguments:
   key: 'pid'; value: 'pid='
   key: 'timeout'; value: 'timeout='

A couple of things I hadn't noticed before is that the socket-based connector comes with the hostname argument pre-set to my machine's hostname, and that all three connectors have a timeout default argument. The first observation brings up an interesting point: if you use the local, PID-based connector, remember that you'll only be attaching to processes on your debugger's host.

I changed my test program to use the local connector and it works as before! Well, no, actually, it does not. Here's what I now get:

java.lang.UnsatisfiedLinkError: no attach in java.library.path
Exception in thread "main" java.io.IOException: no providers installed
at com.sun.tools.jdi.ProcessAttachingConnector.attach(ProcessAttachingConnector.java:86)
at com.adamsresearch.jdiDemo.JDIDemo.main(JDIDemo.java:70)

Does this mean the local connector isn't exactly ready for use? No, but I have been burned by the same issue that has plagued a number of others (scroll down in that page -- the issue was found by a reader of that post and was solved, partially, by another reader of that post). I'm working on a Windows platform, and when you do that you have to be a little careful ;-> . In this case, the problem is caused by 1) using the java interpreter as found on the system path, and 2) not making sure that path points directly to your JDK or JRE directory. The executable will look in a path relative to itself for the needed libraries, and when Windows copies the java executable to C:\Windows\system32 (or similar) -- and if you use that executable -- that relative path is broken. I believe this is the true issue, unlike described in the comments on the above post, where the distinction is made between using the JRE java and the JDK java. I don't think that's the issue. For example, below are the results of my attach test in 3 different scenarios:

  1. Using java from my path, the first hit of which comes from C:\Windows\system32:
    java -cp c:\jdk1.6.0_20\lib\tools.jar;. com.adamsresearch.jdiDemo.JDIDemo 10816 863 fileName
    ...
    java.lang.UnsatisfiedLinkError: no attach in java.library.path
    Exception in thread "main" java.io.IOException: no providers installed
     at com.sun.tools.jdi.ProcessAttachingConnector.attach(ProcessAttachingConnector.java:86)
     at com.adamsresearch.jdiDemo.JDIDemo.main(JDIDemo.java:70)

  2. Using the full path to the JRE bin java:
    c:\jdk1.6.0_20\jre\bin\java -cp c:\jdk1.6.0_20\lib\tools.jar;. com.adamsresearch.jdiDemo.JDIDemo 10816 863 fileName
    ...
    Attached to process 'Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM'

  3. Using the full path to the JDK bin java:
    c:\jdk1.6.0_20\bin\java -cp c:\jdk1.6.0_20\lib\tools.jar;. com.adamsresearch.jdiDemo.JDIDemo 10816 863 fileName
    ...
    Attached to process 'Java HotSpot(TM) 64-Bit Server VM'

As you can see, the above seems to support my theory that it's not the JRE vs the JDK, but rather the context-poor placement of the java executable in the "usual" Windows binaries directory, that caused the problem. That posting is several years old, so it is possible that at that time, the needed JDI libraries actually were not included in the JRE, but it is clear that today, you will see the same exception if you use the java executable found in Windows' default binaries directory.

Now, if I run my JDI application against my JarView utility, searching for AttachingConnector in the JDK installation directory, I get the following output:

Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'AttachingConnector.class'
Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'GenericAttachingConnector$1.class'
Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'GenericAttachingConnector.class'
Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'ProcessAttachingConnector$1.class'
Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'ProcessAttachingConnector$2.class'
Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'ProcessAttachingConnector.class'
Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'SharedMemoryAttachingConnector$1.class'
Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'SharedMemoryAttachingConnector.class'
Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'SocketAttachingConnector$1.class'
Breakpoint at line 863:
fileName = 'SocketAttachingConnector.class'

and so have done what I set out to do, which is 1) debug-attach by process ID, and 2) thrash through the inevitable hiccups and share the solutions. Hopefully this will be useful to you, too.

Note: actually, there are even more ways to attach to a Java process. JPDA Connection and Invocation is the definitive guide, from Oracle. If you're going to be writing debuggers, you can't go wrong reading this page first.

 From http://wayne-adams.blogspot.com/2011/10/jdi-three-ways-to-attach-to-java.html

Download Building Reactive Microservices in Java: Asynchronous and Event-Based Application Design. Brought to you in partnership with Red Hat

Topics:

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

{{ parent.title || parent.header.title}}

{{ parent.tldr }}

{{ parent.urlSource.name }}