Linux Debug in CCSv5

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Updated Toolchain

Starting with Sitara Linux SDK 6.0 the location of the toolchain has changed and for non ARM 9 devices a new Linaro based toolchain will be used. Details about the change in toolchain location can be found here. Also details about the switch to Linaro can be found here.

AM18x users are not affected by the switch to Linaro. Therefore, any references to the Linaro toolchain prefix "arm-linux-gnueabihf-" should be replaced with "arm-arago-linux-gnueabi-".


Linux Debug Overview

CCSv5 supports run mode debug (a.k.a. remote GDB debug, agent-based debug, application debug)and stop mode debug (a.k.a. JTAG debug, low-level debug). For Linux aware debug support (an extension of the stop mode debug), please read the section Linux Aware Debug below.

  • In run mode debug, the user can debug one or more Linux processes. On the host side, CCSv5 launches a cross platform GDB debugger to control the target side agent (a GDB server process). The GDB server launches or attaches to the process to be debugged and accepts instructions from the host side over a serial or TCP/IP connection. The Linux kernel remains active during the debug session. The user can only examine the state of the processes being debugged.
  • In the stop mode debug, CCSv5 halts the target using a JTAG emulator. The Linux kernel and all processes are suspended completely. The user can examine the state of the target and the execution state of the current process.

IMPORTANT! This page refers to CCS version 5.3.0 and newer. For CCSv5.0.x check this page.

Run Mode Debug


The following dependencies apply to Run Mode Debug:

  • CCS versions: CCSv5.3 or greater
  • Devices: any core that is capable of running Linux: Cortex-A, ARM9, C66x.
  • Host requirement: a cross platform GDB debugger (typically part of a GCC package like CodeSourcery or Arago)
  • Target requirement: a GDB server that is compatible with the GDB debugger located on the host (typically part of a SDK package like EZSDK, DVSDK, etc.)
  • A GCC project (see How to create GCC projects in CCSv5).

The run mode debug requires two connections to the target system:

1. One connection to the target console is used to execute Linux commands.

  • If using a serial port (common in all TI's EVMs and low-cost boards like Beagleboard and Pandaboard), this connection can be done using a simple terminal program like Hyperterminal, Putty, TeraTerm or even a CCSv5 terminal plug-in.
  • If using Ethernet, this connection must be done using one of the programs above and configuring it for telnet or SSH. Keep in mind that the linux running on the target board requires a telnet or SSH server running on it.

2. The other connection is used by the gdb debugger to communicate with the gdb server running on the target.

  • This connection can be done either via Ethernet or serial port. Keep in mind the speed of a serial connection can be a lot slower and timeouts may occur.


IMPORTANT! In certain versions CCSv5 does not enable "CDT GDB Debugging" configurations. You need to enable them from the Capabilities tab in the Preference dialog (select Window --> Preferences --> General --> Capabilities).

1. Bring up the Debug Configurations dialog by selecting menu Run --> Debug Configurations

2. Select C/C++ Remote Application

3. Click on the icon New launch configuration (Top left of the pane)

4. Set the fields  C/C++ Application: andProject: respectively to the existing project in the workspace and the binary executable file

Note: If the project is already in focus (Active or highlighted) in the Project Explorer view, these fields will be already populated.

5. In tab Main, click on the link Select Other at the bottom where it says Using GDB (ASF) Automatic Remote Debugging Launcher. Check Use configuration specific settings and select GDB (DSF) Manual Remote Degugging Launcher. Click OK.
Linux debug v5 GDB config.png
Note: It is possible to set up CCSv5 to automatically connect and launch the debugger in the target by leaving the settings above untouched. Check section 8 of the Eclipse CDT FAQ.
Note: Other options like Enable auto build, arguments and others can be modified at this time.
Linux debug v5 tab main.png

6. Select the Debugger tab and specify the GDB debugger as well as the GDB command file. In this case the GDB debugger from Arago is being used, but it is possible to use also CodeSourcery or other toolchain.

   Click browse next to "GDB command file" and browse to the .gdbinit file in the SDK install directory.  When you try to browse to the .gdbinit file, you will need

   to R-Click -> Show Hidden Files to see the file.   Click the Close button and you are now ready to debug the application!

  • In this example of the SDK, the path is: /home/user/AM335X/SDK/ti-sdk-am335x-evm-
  • The GDB init file is located: /home/user/AM335X/SDK/ti-sdk-am335x-evm-

Linux debug v5 tab dbg main.png

7. On the Debugger Connection tab, specify the IP address and port of the GDB server running on the target.
Note: the port number is arbitrary and is specified when the gdbserver is launched - unless you have a strong reason to change it, the value of 10000 is just fine.
Note: the IP address of the target can be determined from the target linux console.
IMPORTANT! Some SDKs do not have gdbserver installed by default in the supplied filesystem. Check the SDK documentation for details on how to install it.
Linux debug v5 ifconfig.png

Linux debug v5 tab dbg connection.png

8. On the target console, start the GDB server specifying the application file and the port number.
Note: make sure the port number matches the one specified in the Debugger Connection tab (10000 by default).
Note: the application under debug must be located on the target filesystem. This can be done in multiple ways: either copying it to the shared NFS directory, to the SD card being used to boot linux, etc.
Linux debug v5 gdbserver.png

9. Launch the debug configuration by clicking the Debug button.
  • CCSv5 will launch the GDB debugger to connect to the GDB server.
  • After the connection is established, you can step, set breakpoints and view the memory, registers and variables of the application process running on the target.
Linux debug v5 debugger.png

10. You may need to set the shared library (object) search path in a cross compile debug enviroment.
  • Under Debug Configuration -> Debugger tab -> Shared Libraries tab enter the path to the target filesystem lib directory
  • You may need a copy of the target filesystem on the local debug host

Stop Mode Debug


The following dependencies apply to Stop Mode Debug:

  • CCS version 5.3.0 or greater. This facilitates working on either a Windows host, or a Linux host.
In addition to the procedure below, a short video clip is located here.
  • Devices: any core that is capable of running Linux: Cortex-A, ARM9, C66x.
  • Host system requirements:
  • Target system requirements: a Linux distribution running on the target. Kernel releases 2.6.x and 3.1.x were tested.

The stop mode debug requires a JTAG connection to the target system. It supports either a standalone JTAG emulator (XDS100, XDS510, XDS560) or an embedded emulator on the development board (OMAPL137EVM, Beaglebone, etc.)
An additional connection to the target console is helpful to monitor the Linux boot procedure and the integrity during the debug session.


Although it is possible to connect to the device using the JTAG emulator without any reference to the source code, this makes the debugging process very difficult as the information in the debugger will consist in pure assembly code. In order to perform low-level debugging with complete visibility of the Linux kernel source code, a few steps are necessary:
1. Compile the kernel with the appropriate debug symbols (EABI executable file vmlinux).
2. Create a project in the CCS workspace that contains all Linux kernel source code.
3. Create a debug configuration that loads the debug symbols to the debugger and references the source code in the Linux kernel tree.

Compiling the Linux kernel with debug information

The Linux kernel must be built with debugging information, otherwise no source code correlation can be made by the debugger.
In order to add or verify if the debug symbols are properly added to the configuration, the step make menuconfig must be performed before the kernel is built, and the options below must be enabled:

  • Enable Kernel hacking --> Compile the kernel with debug info
Also, if the kernel is in experimental mode, you should enable the option below:
  • Kernel hacking ---> Enable stack unwinding support
To check if the kernel is in this mode, check if the option below is enabled.
  • General Setup ---> Prompt for development and/or incomplete code/drivers

Note: for kernel 3.1.0 and above, there is an additional option that must be set:

  • Kernel Hacking ---> Enable JTAG clock for debugger connectivity

Note: for kernel 3.2.0, the option Enable stack unwinding support shown above is only available if the kernel is built with ARM EABI support. To enable it, go to:

  • Kernel Features ---> Use the ARM EABI to compile the kernel

Note: for kernel 3.2.0, the option Compile the kernel with debug info shown above is only available if the option Kernel Debugging is enabled. To do it, go to:

  • Kernel hacking ---> Kernel Debugging

Note: the building process depends on the Linux distribution being used, therefore it is recommended to read the SDK documentation regarding this step.

Creating a source code project for the kernel

1. Create a new C/C++ project by selecting File --> New --> Project and select Makefile Project with Existing Code. Click Next.
Linux debug v5 kernel pjt wizard.png

2. In the section Existing Code Location, click on Browse... and point to the root directory of the Linux kernel source tree. Leave the toolchain as <none> and click Finish.
Linux debug v5 kernel pjt new.png

Linux debug v5 kernel pjt tree.png

3. To prevent CCS from building the Linux kernel automatically before launching the debugger, this option must be disabled. Highlight the Linux kernel project in the Project Explorer view, right click and select Build Options..., then select C/C++ Build in the left tree and the tab Behaviour. Uncheck all the build rules boxes and click OK.
Linux debug v5 kernel build set.png
Note: it is possible the C-syntax error checker built into Eclipse is also activated, which may throw errors while launching the debugger. It can be configured by right-clicking on the project --> Build Options... --> click on Show Advanced Settings --> C/C++ General --> Code Analysis. It can also be completely disabled by going to the submenu Launching and then unchecking the box Run as you type (selected checkers).

Associating the Kernel Project with the Target

At this point, a target configuration file (.ccxml) that corresponds to your emulator and board must be ready.

In this example a Beaglebone (AM3359) was used, together with the Sitara support package available at the CCS download page.
Note: check the Getting Started Guide to learn how to create one.
Important! When debugging a target running any High-level OS (Linux, WinCE, Android, etc.) or its support/initialization routines (u-boot, WinCE bootloader, etc.) you should not rely on GEL files in the target configuration (.ccxml) for device and peripheral initializations that will disrupt your environment. Details on how to add/remove GEL files are shown in the section Advanced target configurations --> Adding GEL files to a target configuration of the CCSv5 Getting Started Guide.

1. Select menu Run --> Debug Configurations

2. Select Code Composer Studio - Device Debugging and click on the button New Launch configuration at the top left.
Linux debug v5 jtag tab main.png

3. Click on the button File System... near the box Target Configuration to select the target configuration file (.ccxml) for your hardware.
Optional: give a meaningful name for the Debug Configuration at the box Name:
Optional: depending on the target configuration, at this point a list of cores will be shown and can be disabled to improve the debugger performance.
Linux debug v5 jtag target assign.png

4. Select the tab Program to assign the Linux kernel source code to the Debug configuration.

5. On the drop-down menu Device select the core where the Linux is running.
In this example the core Texas Instruments XDS100v2 USB Emulator_0/CortxA8 was selected

6. Click on the button Workspace... near the box Project to select the Linux kernel project

  • In this example it was used the project linux-3.1.0-psp04.06.00.03.sdk
  • For the latest version, use /home/user/AM335X/SDK/ti-sdk-am335x-evm-

7. Click on the button File System... near the box Program to select the EABI executable vmlinux that contains the debug symbols

Note:If the Linux kernel was rebuilt, the location of this file is usually in the main directory of the Linux kernel source tree.

Important! It is common that a file vmlinux is also provided in the boot partition of the SD card shipped with the development board (where the file uImage is also located). However, check its size; if it is relatively small when compared to uImage (3, 4 times larger) it is possible it does not carry debug information. A typical size for the vmlinux file usually starts at 30~40MB.

8. At last, check the box Load symbols only. Click Apply.
Linux debug v5 jtag vmlinux.png

9. Now the debug session is ready to be launched. At this point, the emulator must be connected, the target board powered up and Linux running (typically in the command prompt). Click on the Debug button.
Linux debug v5 jtag debugger launching.png

Linux debug v5 jtag debugger.png

Mixed Mode Debug

The stop mode debug can be used concurrently with the run mode debug.
The user can set breakpoints in the user process using the run mode debug and breakpoints in the kernel using the stop mode debug.
To demonstrate this, a call to the function sleep() is added to the Linux application used earlier in the Run mode debug and a breakpoint is added to the function sys_nanosleep() (file <kernel/hrtimer.c>). This will provoke a halt on the breakpoint set in the Stop Mode debug caused by a function call from the Linux application in the Run mode.

1. Search for the function call hrtimer_nanosleep() on the file <kernel/hrtimer.c> that belongs to the Linux kernel project.

2. With the Stop mode debug session still running, halt the target. Right-click on the line of the call, select Breakpoint (Code Composer Studio) then Hardware Breakpoint. Resume the target execution.

3. Start a Run mode debug session with the application that has the sleep() function call. After launching, the Debug view should show two debug sessions as in the screen below:
Linux debug v5 mixed app startup.png

4. Put the target to run. When the application calls sleep() the Stop mode debug session should halt at the breakpoint, as shown in the screen below:
Linux debug v5 mixed kernel halted.png
Important! Keep in mind that halting the Linux kernel while GDB/GDBserver are running may cause communication timeouts, clock skews or other glitches inherent from the fact that the host system and other peripherals are still running.

Linux Aware Debug

This feature was not ported to CCSv5.1 due to compatibility break with the standard Eclipse (required significant changes that would penalize other debug features), lack of popularity and overall performance (speed and memory usage to refresh and store all processes at every breakpoint).
To date there is not estimate to implement an "add-on" tool to CCSv5.1. Please check back regularly for updates.

Limitations and Known Issues

1. When performing Run Mode debug, by default Eclipse looks in the host PC root directory for runtime shared libraries, thus failing to load these when debugging the application in the target hardware. The error messages are something like:

warning: .dynamic section for "/usr/lib/" is not at the expected address (wrong library or version mismatch?)
warning: .dynamic section for "/lib/" is not at the expected address (wrong library or version mismatch?)
warning: .dynamic section for "/lib/" is not at the expected address (wrong library or version mismatch?)
warning: .dynamic section for "/lib/" is not at the expected address (wrong library or version mismatch?)

When SDKs script, it should automatically generate a .gdbinit file for you in the base directory of the SDK. 

The file will contain the line: set sysroot <SDK-PATH>/targetNFS.

An example would be

set sysroot /home/user/AM335X/SDK/ti-sdk-am335x-evm-


Close any GDB debugging sessions. Open the Debug Configurations as shown in the Run Time debugging and then browse to this file in the Debugger tab --> box GDB command file.


Sitara Linux SDK 05.07