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Tutorial: MCUXpresso SDK With Linux, Part 2: Commandline Debugging With GDB

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Tutorial: MCUXpresso SDK With Linux, Part 2: Commandline Debugging With GDB

Learn more about commandline debugging with GDB.

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In my recent post “Tutorial: MCUXpresso SDK with Linux, Part 1: Installation and Build with Make,” I used cmake and make to build the SDK application. In this part, I’m going to use the command line gdb to debug the application on the board.

Cross-Debugging with GDB

Cross-Debugging with GDB

Outline

In this tutorial, I’m going through the steps to install and use the GNU debugger (gdb) from the console to debug the application on the board. I’m running the Ubuntu Linux in a VM on Windows and I’m using the NXP FRDM-K64F board, but the steps are applicable to any other board.

MQTT running on NXP FRDM-K64F

NXP FRDM-K64F

While this tutorial is using gdb and the command line, the Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE can be used instead too: this way might be easier for most developers as with using Eclipse things are handled automatically.

For an earlier overview about command line debugging with GDB, see “Command Line Programming and Debugging with GDB."

GDB Debugging Chain

GDB Debugging Chain

Debug Connections

The board I’m using has an on-board debug circuit (OpenSDA), which can be used either as a CMSIS-DAP (with an LPC-Link2), SEGGER J-Link, or P&E Multilink. The board has a standard 10pin SWD debug header, so an external debug probe can be used too:

Debugging FreeRTOS on NXP FRDM-K64F with P&E Multilink Universal

Debugging FreeRTOS on NXP FRDM-K64F with P&E Multilink Universal

LPC-Link2 debugging FRDM-K64F

LPC-Link2 debugging FRDM-K64F

J-Link Hooked Up to recover the K64F

J-Link Hooked Up to recover the K64F

GDB Client

GDB is using a client-server connection: the GDB client is rather generic, while the server part is making the connection to the target and/or implements the connection to the board.

In the case of using Eclipse, the GDB client is integrated with Eclipse:

GDB with GDB Server

GDB With GDB Server

But the GDB client, in fact, is a command line tool like the compiler, and it can be started on the command line too:

$ ~/opt/gcc-arm-none-eabi-8-2018-q4-major/bin/arm-none-eabi-gdb


See “Tutorial: MCUXpresso SDK with Linux, Part 1: Installation and Build with Make” about the GNU and gdb tool installation.

This launches the GDB client, which then waits for commands:

Launched GDB

Launched GDB

I prefer to run the gdb client in one console window. So, for the next parts (server for P&E and SEGGER), I use a different console.

SEGGER J-Link GDB Server

To work with the board using a SEGGER probe, I have to install the J-Link software first. The download is available at https://www.segger.com/downloads/jlink/#J- LinkSoftwareAndDocumentationPack

For my environment, I have downloaded the JLink_Linux_V644g_x86_64.deb file. For a RedHat system, the .rpm would be the choice to use. To install it:

$ sudo apt install ./JLink_Linux_V644g_x86_64.deb


The files get installed into \opt\bin. I can verify that it works properly with calling the GDB server:

$ /usr/bin/JLinkGDBServer


Which produces something like this:

SEGGER J-Link GDB Server V6.44g Command Line Version

JLinkARM.dll V6.44g (DLL compiled Apr 18 2019 17:15:02)

-----GDB Server start settings-----
GDBInit file:                  none
GDB Server Listening port:     2331
SWO raw output listening port: 2332
Terminal I/O port:             2333
Accept remote connection:      yes
Generate logfile:              off
Verify download:               off
Init regs on start:            off
Silent mode:                   off
Single run mode:               off
Target connection timeout:     0 ms
------J-Link related settings------
J-Link Host interface:         USB
J-Link script:                 none
J-Link settings file:          none
------Target related settings------
Target device:                 Unspecified
Target interface:              JTAG
Target interface speed:        4000kHz
Target endian:                 little

Connecting to J-Link...
Connecting to J-Link failed. Connected correctly?
GDBServer will be closed...
Shutting down...
Could not connect to J-Link.


For how the GDB client and server connection works, see “GDB Client and Server: Unlocking GDB.“

The above output is produced with no J-Link debug probe attached. If using a USB based probe with the VM, make sure the USB port is available to the VM:

Using USB in VirtualBox

With this, the probe is detected:

SEGGER J-Link GDB Server V6.44g Command Line Version

JLinkARM.dll V6.44g (DLL compiled Apr 18 2019 17:15:02)

-----GDB Server start settings-----
GDBInit file:                  none
GDB Server Listening port:     2331
SWO raw output listening port: 2332
Terminal I/O port:             2333
Accept remote connection:      yes
Generate logfile:              off
Verify download:               off
Init regs on start:            off
Silent mode:                   off
Single run mode:               off
Target connection timeout:     0 ms
------J-Link related settings------
J-Link Host interface:         USB
J-Link script:                 none
J-Link settings file:          none
------Target related settings------
Target device:                 Unspecified
Target interface:              JTAG
Target interface speed:        4000kHz
Target endian:                 little

Connecting to J-Link...
J-Link is connected.
Failed to set device (Unspecified). Unknown device selected?ERROR : Failed to set device.

Firmware: J-Link OpenSDA 2 compiled Jun 28 2018 09:44:47
Hardware: V1.00
S/N: 621000000
Checking target voltage...
Target voltage: 3.30 V
Listening on TCP/IP port 2331
Connecting to target...ERROR: Debugger tries to select target interface JTAG.
This interface is not supported by the connected emulator.
Selection will be ignored by the DLL.
ERROR: No CPU core or target device has been selected. Please make sure at least the core J-Link shall connect to, is selected.
ERROR: Could not connect to target.
Target connection failed. GDBServer will be closed...Restoring target state and closing J-Link connection...
Shutting down...
Could not connect to target.


The end of the message indicates that we are trying to connect to a JTAG interface, which is not supported. Indeed, the OpenSDA circuit on the FRDM-K64F board only supports SWD. To use SWD, the -if swd option has to be added:

$ /usr/bin/JLinkGDBServer -if swd


In addition to that, the device has to be selected using the -device option:

$ /usr/bin/JLinkGDBServer -if swd -device MK64FN1M0xxx12


The list of devices are available from https://www.segger.com/downloads/supported-devices.php

With this, the SEGGER gdb server waits for the client connection:

SEGGER J-Link GDB Server V6.44g Command Line Version

JLinkARM.dll V6.44g (DLL compiled Apr 18 2019 17:15:02)

Command line: -if swd -device MK64FN1M0xxx12
-----GDB Server start settings-----
GDBInit file: none
GDB Server Listening port: 2331
SWO raw output listening port: 2332
Terminal I/O port: 2333
Accept remote connection: yes
Generate logfile: off
Verify download: off
Init regs on start: off
Silent mode: off
Single run mode: off
Target connection timeout: 0 ms
------J-Link related settings------
J-Link Host interface: USB
J-Link script: none
J-Link settings file: none
------Target related settings------
Target device: MK64FN1M0xxx12
Target interface: SWD
Target interface speed: 4000kHz
Target endian: little

Connecting to J-Link...
J-Link is connected.
Firmware: J-Link OpenSDA 2 compiled Jun 28 2018 09:44:47
Hardware: V1.00
S/N: 621000000
Checking target voltage...
Target voltage: 3.30 V
Listening on TCP/IP port 2331
Connecting to target...Connected to target
Waiting for GDB connection...


The SEGGER server is listening on port 2331, so I connect to that port from the gdb client:

(gdb) target remote localhost:2331


GDB Client and Server

GDB Client and Server

From the client, I can reset the target:

(gdb) monitor reset


Image title

monitor reset

To load the binary, I use

(gdb) load debug/led_blinky.elf


load binary

load binary

Followed by loading the symbols (debug information):

(gdb) file debug/led_blinky.elf


loaded symbols

loaded symbols

To set a breakpoint on main:

(gdb) b main


And to continue execution:

(gdb) c 


This will hit the breakpoint on main:

Hit breakpoint on main

Hit breakpoint on main

GDB has many commands, for example, check the following cheat sheets:

To quit the gdb debug session:

(gdb) q


PEMicro (P&E)

Everything said above applies to the P&E (PEMICRO) debug connection, too. The P&E debug probes (e.g. Multilink) use their own GDB. That GDB Serve and drivers are integrated into Eclipse (e.g. NXP MCUXpresso IDE)

I recommend to download and install the MCUXpresso IDE for Linux as it comes with the latest P&E plugins and drivers. That way the USB drivers and GDB server don’t need to be installed manually as described below.

Download the P&E Linux drivers from http://www.pemicro.com/opensda/ and unzip the file:

$ gunzip pemicro-other-20181128.zip.tar.gz


Untar the archive:

$ tar -xvf pemicro-other-20181128.zip.tar
$ cd pemicro-other-20181128/drivers/libusb_64_32/


Untar the drivers:

$ tar -xvf linux_drivers_64bit_58_b181128.tar.gz


Install the drivers:

$ cd libusb_64_32
$ sudo ./setup.sh


Now, with the USB drivers installed, we need the P&E GDB Server, which is inside the P&E Eclipse plugin. The Eclipse plugin is available as a direct download from: https://www.pemicro.com/products/product_viewDetails.cfm?product_id=15320151&productTab=1

Again, I recommend to download and install the MCUXpresso IDE for Linux as it comes with the latest P&E plugins.

Unzip the jar file (replace the file name with the one you have downloaded):

$ unzip com.pemicro.debug.gdbjtag.pne_3.0.9.201707131553.jar -d pnegdbserver


Make the gdb server executable:

$ cd pnegdbserver
$ chmod +x pegdbserver_console


Make sure the P&E Device and driver is available for the Linux VM:

PEMicro USB

PEMicro USB

The list of supported devices can be displayed with:

$ ./pegdbserver_console -devicelist


Then, launch the server. Specify -startserver and the -device used. For FRDM-K64F, I use:

$ ./pegdbserver_console -startserver -device=NXP_K6x_K64FN1M0M12


With this, I have the server running:

P&E GDB Server for Arm(R) devices, Version 6.45.00.00
Copyright 2014, P&E Microcomputer Systems Inc, All rights reserved

Loading library /home/erich/MCUXpresso/pemicro/pnegdbserver/lin/gdi/unit_ngs_arm_internal.so ... Done.

Command line arguments: -startserver -device=NXP_K6x_K64FN1M0M12 
Device selected is NXP_K6x_K64FN1M0M12
HW Auto-Selected : Interface=USBMULTILINK Port=PEM6B012B   ; USB1 : Multilink Universal FX Rev C (PEM6B012B)
Connecting to target.
P&E Interface detected - Flash Version 10.15 
Device is NXP_K6x_K64FN1M0M12. 
Mode is In-Circuit Debug. 

(C)opyright 2012, P&E Microcomputer Systems, Inc. (www.pemicro.com)
API version is 101

Creating kernel driver for freertos
Server 1 running on 127.0.0.1:7224
Server 2 running on 127.0.0.1:7226
Server 3 running on 127.0.0.1:7228
Server 4 running on 127.0.0.1:7230
Server 5 running on 127.0.0.1:7232
Server 6 running on 127.0.0.1:7234
All Servers Running


Start the gdb client in a different console:

$ ~/opt/gcc-arm-none-eabi-8-2018-q4-major/bin/arm-none-eabi-gdb


The P&E GDB server is listening on port 7224, so I use the following in the gdb client:

(gdb) target remote localhost:7224


From now on, I can use gdb to talk to the target. To reset the target:

(gdb) monitor reset


To load the binary and the symbols, set a breakpoint on main and run:

(gdb) load debug/led_blinky.elf
(gdb) file debug/led_blinky.elf
(gdb) b main
(gdb) c


Debugging with P&E gdbserver

Debugging with P&E gdbserver

To terminate the debug session:

(gdb) q


Automation

Instead of using the gdb client in interactive mode, I can script it for example to program the application. For example, create the following script file:

set pagination off
target remote localhost:2331
monitor reset
load debug/led_blinky.elf
quit
gdb script file


Then, launch the script file with

$ ~/opt/gcc-arm-none-eabi-8-2018-q4-major/bin/arm-none-eabi-gdb -x gdb_flash.script


Summary

It is possible to use gdb in command line mode on Linux with the NXP MCUXpresso SDK, so this is applicable for a very small setup. It works well for the SEGGER and PEMICRO debug connections, as their driver/installer cares about the USB connection, so using that is fairly easy. Using the gdb command line is very powerful, but it is, for sure, not as intuitive as using an Eclipse IDE as the MCUXpresso IDE, but it is certainly doable. Using gdb in command line mode on the other side is a good option for automated testing at least.

Happy debugging!

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Topics:
iot ,debugging ,embedded ,linux ,gdb ,microcontroller ,mcuxpresso ,tutorial ,sdk ,mcuxpresso sdk

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