Breakpoints tell UDB to stop the execution (or reverse execution) of the program when it reaches a location.

Create breakpoints using the break and tbreak commands and delete them with the delete command. List breakpoints using the info breakpoints command.

break [location] [thread thread] [if condition]

Set a breakpoint at location, which can be one of these:

  • (omitted) — The next instruction in the selected stack frame.

  • number — The line number in the current source file.

  • [+|-]number — The line number relative to the current line.

  • filename:number — The line number in the source file.

  • function — The first line in the function body.

  • filename:function — The first line in the function in the source file.

  • label — The label in the selected stack frame.

  • function:label — The label in the function.

  • *address — The address of the instruction.

If location might be ambiguous, use these options to disambiguate:

-line [+|-]NUMBER
-source FILENAME
-function FUNCTION
-label LABEL

UDB stops the program when it reaches the location specified by the breakpoint and returns control to the debugger. For example:

$ udb --args examples/hashtable 12347
Reading symbols from examples/hashtable...
not running> run
Starting program: examples/hashtable 12347
hashtable: hashtable.c:131: main: Assertion `table_contains(table, element)' failed.

Program received signal SIGABRT, Aborted.
0x00007ffff7e24891 in raise () from /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/
recording 2,020,030> break table_remove
Breakpoint 1 at 0x5555555553bd: file hashtable.c, line 98.
recording 2,020,030> reverse-continue

Breakpoint 1, table_remove (table=0x5555555592a0, element=5219) at hashtable.c:98
98          if (_table_find(&i, table, element))
99% 2,019,598> backtrace
#0  table_remove (table=0x5555555592a0, element=5219) at hashtable.c:98
#1  0x000055555555559c in main (argc=2, argv=0x7fffffffdb58) at hashtable.c:132

To stop the program only in a specific thread, append “thread thread” where thread is the thread number, for example from the info threads command.

To stop the program at a breakpoint only if variables have particular values, append “if condition”. The condition must an expression in the programming language of the program being debugged. The condition is evaluated each time the breakpoint is hit, and the program is stopped if the condition is true. For example:

99% 2,019,598> print element
$1 = 5219
99% 2,019,598> break table_add if element == 5219
Breakpoint 2 at 0x555555555374: file hashtable.c, line 86.
99% 2,019,598> reverse-continue

Breakpoint 2, table_add (table=0x5555555592a0, element=5219) at hashtable.c:86
86          if (_table_find(&i, table, element))
0% 11,274> backtrace
#0  table_add (table=0x5555555592a0, element=5219) at hashtable.c:86
#1  0x00005555555555fc in main (argc=2, argv=0x7fffffffdb58) at hashtable.c:138

Add a condition to a breakpoint, or change the condition, using the condition command.

commands [breakpoint1 [breakpoint2 …]]

Set up UDB commands to be run automatically when any of the specified breakpoints is hit. With no arguments, set up commands for the most recently created breakpoint.

Enter the commands one per line, followed by “end”. For example, to stop in a function and automatically reverse-finish to the caller, use:

0% 11,274> break malloc
Breakpoint 3 at 0x7ffff7e722c0
0% 11,274> commands 3
Type commands for breakpoint(s) 3, one per line.
End with a line saying just "end".

condition breakpoint [condition]

Add or change the condition on breakpoint. See the break command for details. Specify the breakpoint by its number, for example from the info breakpoints command.

With no condition argument, remove the condition from breakpoint.

delete [breakpoint1 [breakpoint2 …]]

Delete the specified breakpoints, or all breakpoints if no arguments are given.

info breakpoints [breakpoint1 breakpoint2 …]

Describe the specified breakpoints, or all breakpoints if no arguments are given. The columns in the table are:

  • Num: The breakpoint number.

  • Type: “breakpoint” or “watchpoint”.

  • Disp: “keep” if the breakpoint will be retained when it is hit; “del” if it will be deleted.

  • Enb: “y” if the breakpoint is enabled; “n” if it is disabled.

  • Address: The address of the instruction where the program will stop.

  • What: Location of the breakpoint in the source code.

For example:

0% 11,274> info breakpoints
Num     Type           Disp Enb Address            What
1       breakpoint     keep n   0x00005555555553bd in table_remove at hashtable.c:98
        breakpoint already hit 1 time
2       breakpoint     keep y   0x0000555555555374 in table_add at hashtable.c:86
        stop only if element == 5219 (target evals)
        breakpoint already hit 1 time
3       breakpoint     keep y   0x00007ffff7e722c0 <malloc>

tbreak [location] [thread thread] [if condition]

Set a temporary breakpoint: that is, a breakpoint that is automatically deleted when it is hit. The command takes the same arguments as the break command.


Watchpoints (also known as “data breakpoints”) stop the program when the value of a variable or the contents of a memory location changes.

Create a watchpoint using the watch command.

watch [-l|-location] expression [thread thread]

Set a watchpoint that stops the program when expression changes.

The expression is in the programming language of the program being debugged. It may be a variable:

0% 11,274> watch element
Hardware watchpoint 4: element

It may be an address prefixed with *:

0% 11,274> print table
$2 = (table_t *) 0x5555555592a0
0% 11,274> watch *table
Hardware watchpoint 5: *table

This stops the program when the memory pointed to by the address changes. The size of the watched memory region is deduced from the type of the address: use a cast to change the size.

0% 11,274> watch *(char *)table
Hardware watchpoint 6: *(char *)table

A watchpoint whose expression refers to local variables only applies when those variables are in scope. To continue to watch the memory referenced by expression after the variable goes out of scope, use the “-location” or “-l” option. For example:

0% 11,274> watch -l table->slot[i]
Hardware watchpoint 7: -location table->slot[i]

This takes the address of table->slot[i] and continues to watch the contents of that address after the variables table and i have changed or gone out of scope.

When a watchpoint is hit, UDB reports the old and new values of the watched expression or location. For example:

0% 11,274> reverse-continue

Hardware watchpoint 7: -location table->slot[i]

Old value = -2147483648
New value = 0
0x0000555555555225 in make_table (n=100, skip=17) at hashtable.c:48
48                  table->slot[i] = UNUSED;

When executing the program backward, take care interpreting the terms “old value” and “new value” as they can be counter-intuitive. The “old value” is the value before the reverse-execution command was started, and “new value” is the value after it finished.


A watchpoint is implemented as a “hardware watchpoint” (meaning one of the CPU’s debug registers) if possible. To use a hardware watchpoint, the watched expression must be simple; and, since there are a limited number of debug registers, there must not be too many watchpoints.

If these conditions are not met, a “software watchpoint” is used instead. This requires re-evaluating the expression after every statement in the program, which means that the programs runs much more slowly. The performance is particularly bad for reverse-execution commands, so UDB issues the following warning:

There are one or more software watchpoints, which may make reverse operations extremely slow. To avoid creating such software watchpoints, you should avoid watching registers, avoid watching $<n> convenience variables, and avoid setting too many watchpoints.

If this warning appears, try simplifying the expressions so that they can be implemented as hardware watchpoints.