Debugging Native Android Platform Code

This section summarizes useful tools and related commands for debugging, tracing, and profiling native Android platform code when developing platform-level features.

Note: The pages in this section and elsewhere within this site recommend use of adb in conjunction with the setprop argument to debug certain aspects of Android. Please note, on pre-O versions of the Android OS, property names had a length limit of 32 characters. This meant that to create a wrap property with the name of the app, it was necessary to truncate the name to fit. In Android O and later, this limit is much greater and should require no truncation.

This page covers the basics surrounding crash dumps found in logcat output. Other pages have far more detail about diagnosing native crashes, exploring system services with dumpsys, viewing native memory, network, and RAM usage, using AddressSanitizer to detect memory bugs in native code, evaluating performance issues (includes systrace), and using the GNU debugger (GDB) and other debugging tools.

Crash dumps

When a dynamically linked executable starts, several signal handlers are registered that, in the event of a crash, cause a basic crash dump to be written to logcat and a more detailed "tombstone" file to be written to /data/tombstones/. The tombstone is a file with extra data about the crashed process. In particular, it contains stack traces for all the threads in the crashing process (not just the thread that caught the signal), a full memory map, and a list of all open file descriptors.

Before Android 8.0, crashes were handled by the debuggerd and debuggerd64 daemons. In Android O and later, crash_dump32 and crash_dump64 are spawned as needed.

It's possible for the crash dumper to attach only if nothing else is already attached, which means using tools such as strace or gdb will prevent crash dumps from occurring.

Example output (with timestamps and extraneous information removed):

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
Build fingerprint: 'Android/aosp_angler/angler:7.1.1/NYC/enh12211018:eng/test-keys'
Revision: '0'
ABI: 'arm'
pid: 17946, tid: 17949, name: crasher  >>> crasher <<<
signal 11 (SIGSEGV), code 1 (SEGV_MAPERR), fault addr 0xc
    r0 0000000c  r1 00000000  r2 00000000  r3 00000000
    r4 00000000  r5 0000000c  r6 eccdd920  r7 00000078
    r8 0000461a  r9 ffc78c19  sl ab209441  fp fffff924
    ip ed01b834  sp eccdd800  lr ecfa9a1f  pc ecfd693e  cpsr 600e0030

backtrace:
    #00 pc 0004793e  /system/lib/libc.so (pthread_mutex_lock+1)
    #01 pc 0001aa1b  /system/lib/libc.so (readdir+10)
    #02 pc 00001b91  /system/xbin/crasher (readdir_null+20)
    #03 pc 0000184b  /system/xbin/crasher (do_action+978)
    #04 pc 00001459  /system/xbin/crasher (thread_callback+24)
    #05 pc 00047317  /system/lib/libc.so (_ZL15__pthread_startPv+22)
    #06 pc 0001a7e5  /system/lib/libc.so (__start_thread+34)
Tombstone written to: /data/tombstones/tombstone_06

The last line of output gives the location of the full tombstone on disk.

Assuming you have the unstripped binaries available, you can get a more detailed unwind with line number information by pasting the stack into development/scripts/stack:

Tip: For convenience, if you've run lunch, then stack will be on your $PATH already so you don't need to give the full path.

development/scripts/stack

Example output (based on the logcat output above):

Reading native crash info from stdin
03-02 23:53:49.477 17951 17951 F DEBUG   : *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***
03-02 23:53:49.477 17951 17951 F DEBUG   : Build fingerprint: 'Android/aosp_angler/angler:7.1.1/NYC/enh12211018:eng/test-keys'
03-02 23:53:49.477 17951 17951 F DEBUG   : Revision: '0'
03-02 23:53:49.477 17951 17951 F DEBUG   : ABI: 'arm'
03-02 23:53:49.478 17951 17951 F DEBUG   : pid: 17946, tid: 17949, name: crasher  >>> crasher <<<
03-02 23:53:49.478 17951 17951 F DEBUG   : signal 11 (SIGSEGV), code 1 (SEGV_MAPERR), fault addr 0xc
03-02 23:53:49.478 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     r0 0000000c  r1 00000000  r2 00000000  r3 00000000
03-02 23:53:49.478 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     r4 00000000  r5 0000000c  r6 eccdd920  r7 00000078
03-02 23:53:49.478 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     r8 0000461a  r9 ffc78c19  sl ab209441  fp fffff924
03-02 23:53:49.478 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     ip ed01b834  sp eccdd800  lr ecfa9a1f  pc ecfd693e  cpsr 600e0030
03-02 23:53:49.491 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :
03-02 23:53:49.491 17951 17951 F DEBUG   : backtrace:
03-02 23:53:49.492 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     #00 pc 0004793e  /system/lib/libc.so (pthread_mutex_lock+1)
03-02 23:53:49.492 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     #01 pc 0001aa1b  /system/lib/libc.so (readdir+10)
03-02 23:53:49.492 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     #02 pc 00001b91  /system/xbin/crasher (readdir_null+20)
03-02 23:53:49.492 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     #03 pc 0000184b  /system/xbin/crasher (do_action+978)
03-02 23:53:49.492 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     #04 pc 00001459  /system/xbin/crasher (thread_callback+24)
03-02 23:53:49.492 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     #05 pc 00047317  /system/lib/libc.so (_ZL15__pthread_startPv+22)
03-02 23:53:49.492 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     #06 pc 0001a7e5  /system/lib/libc.so (__start_thread+34)
03-02 23:53:49.492 17951 17951 F DEBUG   :     Tombstone written to: /data/tombstones/tombstone_06
Reading symbols from /huge-ssd/aosp-arm64/out/target/product/angler/symbols
Revision: '0'
pid: 17946, tid: 17949, name: crasher  >>> crasher <<<
signal 11 (SIGSEGV), code 1 (SEGV_MAPERR), fault addr 0xc
     r0 0000000c  r1 00000000  r2 00000000  r3 00000000
     r4 00000000  r5 0000000c  r6 eccdd920  r7 00000078
     r8 0000461a  r9 ffc78c19  sl ab209441  fp fffff924
     ip ed01b834  sp eccdd800  lr ecfa9a1f  pc ecfd693e  cpsr 600e0030
Using arm toolchain from: /huge-ssd/aosp-arm64/prebuilts/gcc/linux-x86/arm/arm-linux-androideabi-4.9/bin/

Stack Trace:
  RELADDR   FUNCTION                   FILE:LINE
  0004793e  pthread_mutex_lock+2       bionic/libc/bionic/pthread_mutex.cpp:515
  v------>  ScopedPthreadMutexLocker   bionic/libc/private/ScopedPthreadMutexLocker.h:27
  0001aa1b  readdir+10                 bionic/libc/bionic/dirent.cpp:120
  00001b91  readdir_null+20            system/core/debuggerd/crasher.cpp:131
  0000184b  do_action+978              system/core/debuggerd/crasher.cpp:228
  00001459  thread_callback+24         system/core/debuggerd/crasher.cpp:90
  00047317  __pthread_start(void*)+22  bionic/libc/bionic/pthread_create.cpp:202 (discriminator 1)
  0001a7e5  __start_thread+34          bionic/libc/bionic/clone.cpp:46 (discriminator 1)

Note: Some system libraries are built with LOCAL_STRIP_MODULE := keep_symbols to provide usable backtraces directly without taking up anywhere near as much space as an unstripped version.

You can also stack an entire tombstone. Example:

stack < FS/data/tombstones/tombstone_05

This is useful if you've just unzipped a bugreport in the current directory. For more information about diagnosing native crashes and tombstones, see Diagnosing Native Crashes.

Getting a stack trace/tombstone from a running process

You can also use the debuggerd tool to get a stack dump from a running process. From the command line, invoke debuggerd using a process ID (PID) to dump a full tombstone to stdout. To get just the stack for every thread in the process, include the -b or --backtrace flag.

Understanding a complex unwind

When an app crashes, the stack tends to be pretty complex. The following detailed example highlights many of the complexities:

    #00 pc 00000000007e6918  /system/priv-app/Velvet/Velvet.apk (offset 0x346b000)
    #01 pc 00000000001845cc  /system/priv-app/Velvet/Velvet.apk (offset 0x346b000)
    #02 pc 00000000001847e4  /system/priv-app/Velvet/Velvet.apk (offset 0x346b000)
    #03 pc 00000000001805c0  /system/priv-app/Velvet/Velvet.apk (offset 0x346b000) (Java_com_google_speech_recognizer_AbstractRecognizer_nativeRun+176)

Frames #00-#03 are from native JNI code that was stored uncompressed in the APK to save disk space rather than being extracted into a separate .so file. The stack unwinder in Android 9 doesn’t need the extracted .so file to be able to cope with this common Android-specific case.

Frames #00-#02 don’t have symbol names because they were stripped by the developer.

Frame #03 shows that where symbols are available, the unwinder uses them.

    #04 pc 0000000000117550  /data/dalvik-cache/arm64/system@priv-app@Velvet@Velvet.apk@classes.dex (offset 0x108000) (com.google.speech.recognizer.AbstractRecognizer.nativeRun+160)

Frame #04 is ahead-of-time compiled Java code. The old unwinder would have stopped here, unable to unwind through Java.

    #05 pc 0000000000559f88  /system/lib64/libart.so (art_quick_invoke_stub+584)
    #06 pc 00000000000ced40  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::ArtMethod::Invoke(art::Thread*, unsigned int*, unsigned int, art::JValue*, char const*)+200)
    #07 pc 0000000000280cf0  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::interpreter::ArtInterpreterToCompiledCodeBridge(art::Thread*, art::ArtMethod*, art::ShadowFrame*, unsigned short, art::JValue*)+344)
    #08 pc 000000000027acac  /system/lib64/libart.so (bool art::interpreter::DoCall(art::ArtMethod*, art::Thread*, art::ShadowFrame&, art::Instruction const*, unsigned short, art::JValue*)+948)
    #09 pc 000000000052abc0  /system/lib64/libart.so (MterpInvokeDirect+296)
    #10 pc 000000000054c614  /system/lib64/libart.so (ExecuteMterpImpl+14484)

Frames #05-#10 are from the ART interpreter implementation. The stack unwinder in releases prior to Android 9 would have shown these frames without the context of frame #11 explaining what code the interpreter was interpreting. These frames are useful if you're debugging ART itself. If you're debugging an app, you can ignore them. Some tools, such as simpleperf, will automatically omit these frames.

    #11 pc 00000000001992d6  /system/priv-app/Velvet/Velvet.apk (offset 0x26cf000) (com.google.speech.recognizer.AbstractRecognizer.run+18)

Frame #11 is the Java code being interpreted.

    #12 pc 00000000002547a8  /system/lib64/libart.so (_ZN3art11interpreterL7ExecuteEPNS_6ThreadERKNS_20CodeItemDataAccessorERNS_11ShadowFrameENS_6JValueEb.llvm.780698333+496)
    #13 pc 000000000025a328  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::interpreter::ArtInterpreterToInterpreterBridge(art::Thread*, art::CodeItemDataAccessor const&, art::ShadowFrame*, art::JValue*)+216)
    #14 pc 000000000027ac90  /system/lib64/libart.so (bool art::interpreter::DoCall(art::ArtMethod*, art::Thread*, art::ShadowFrame&, art::Instruction const*, unsigned short, art::JValue*)+920)
    #15 pc 0000000000529880  /system/lib64/libart.so (MterpInvokeVirtual+584)
    #16 pc 000000000054c514  /system/lib64/libart.so (ExecuteMterpImpl+14228)

Frames #12-#16 are more of the interpreter implementation itself.

    #17 pc 00000000002454a0  /system/priv-app/Velvet/Velvet.apk (offset 0x1322000) (com.google.android.apps.gsa.speech.e.c.c.call+28)

Frame #17 is more Java code being interpreted. This Java method corresponds to interpreter frames #12-#16.

    #18 pc 00000000002547a8  /system/lib64/libart.so (_ZN3art11interpreterL7ExecuteEPNS_6ThreadERKNS_20CodeItemDataAccessorERNS_11ShadowFrameENS_6JValueEb.llvm.780698333+496)
    #19 pc 0000000000519fd8  /system/lib64/libart.so (artQuickToInterpreterBridge+1032)
    #20 pc 00000000005630fc  /system/lib64/libart.so (art_quick_to_interpreter_bridge+92)

Frames #18-#20 are more of the VM itself, code to transition from compiled Java code to interpreted Java code.

    #21 pc 00000000002ce44c  /system/framework/arm64/boot.oat (offset 0xdc000) (java.util.concurrent.FutureTask.run+204)

Frame #21 is the compiled Java method that calls the Java method in #17.

    #22 pc 0000000000559f88  /system/lib64/libart.so (art_quick_invoke_stub+584)
    #23 pc 00000000000ced40  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::ArtMethod::Invoke(art::Thread*, unsigned int*, unsigned int, art::JValue*, char const*)+200)
    #24 pc 0000000000280cf0  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::interpreter::ArtInterpreterToCompiledCodeBridge(art::Thread*, art::ArtMethod*, art::ShadowFrame*, unsigned short, art::JValue*)+344)
    #25 pc 000000000027acac  /system/lib64/libart.so (bool art::interpreter::DoCall(art::ArtMethod*, art::Thread*, art::ShadowFrame&, art::Instruction const*, unsigned short, art::JValue*)+948)
    #26 pc 0000000000529880  /system/lib64/libart.so (MterpInvokeVirtual+584)
    #27 pc 000000000054c514  /system/lib64/libart.so (ExecuteMterpImpl+14228)

Frames #22-#27 are the interpreter implementation, making a method invocation from interpreted code to a compiled method.

    #28 pc 00000000003ed69e  /system/priv-app/Velvet/Velvet.apk (com.google.android.apps.gsa.shared.util.concurrent.b.e.run+22)

Frame #28 is the Java code being interpreted.

    #29 pc 00000000002547a8  /system/lib64/libart.so (_ZN3art11interpreterL7ExecuteEPNS_6ThreadERKNS_20CodeItemDataAccessorERNS_11ShadowFrameENS_6JValueEb.llvm.780698333+496)
    #30 pc 0000000000519fd8  /system/lib64/libart.so (artQuickToInterpreterBridge+1032)
    #31 pc 00000000005630fc  /system/lib64/libart.so (art_quick_to_interpreter_bridge+92)

Frames #29-#31 are another transition between compiled code and interpreted code.

    #32 pc 0000000000329284  /system/framework/arm64/boot.oat (offset 0xdc000) (java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor.runWorker+996)
    #33 pc 00000000003262a0  /system/framework/arm64/boot.oat (offset 0xdc000) (java.util.concurrent.ThreadPoolExecutor$Worker.run+64)
    #34 pc 00000000002037e8  /system/framework/arm64/boot.oat (offset 0xdc000) (java.lang.Thread.run+72)

Frames #32-#34 are compiled Java frames calling each other directly. In this case the native call stack is the same as the Java call stack.

    #35 pc 0000000000559f88  /system/lib64/libart.so (art_quick_invoke_stub+584)
    #36 pc 00000000000ced40  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::ArtMethod::Invoke(art::Thread*, unsigned int*, unsigned int, art::JValue*, char const*)+200)
    #37 pc 0000000000280cf0  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::interpreter::ArtInterpreterToCompiledCodeBridge(art::Thread*, art::ArtMethod*, art::ShadowFrame*, unsigned short, art::JValue*)+344)
    #38 pc 000000000027acac  /system/lib64/libart.so (bool art::interpreter::DoCall(art::ArtMethod*, art::Thread*, art::ShadowFrame&, art::Instruction const*, unsigned short, art::JValue*)+948)
    #39 pc 0000000000529f10  /system/lib64/libart.so (MterpInvokeSuper+1408)
    #40 pc 000000000054c594  /system/lib64/libart.so (ExecuteMterpImpl+14356)

Frames #35-#40 are the interpreter itself.

    #41 pc 00000000003ed8e0  /system/priv-app/Velvet/Velvet.apk (com.google.android.apps.gsa.shared.util.concurrent.b.i.run+20)

Frame #41 is the Java code being interpreted.

    #42 pc 00000000002547a8  /system/lib64/libart.so (_ZN3art11interpreterL7ExecuteEPNS_6ThreadERKNS_20CodeItemDataAccessorERNS_11ShadowFrameENS_6JValueEb.llvm.780698333+496)
    #43 pc 0000000000519fd8  /system/lib64/libart.so (artQuickToInterpreterBridge+1032)
    #44 pc 00000000005630fc  /system/lib64/libart.so (art_quick_to_interpreter_bridge+92)
    #45 pc 0000000000559f88  /system/lib64/libart.so (art_quick_invoke_stub+584)
    #46 pc 00000000000ced40  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::ArtMethod::Invoke(art::Thread*, unsigned int*, unsigned int, art::JValue*, char const*)+200)
    #47 pc 0000000000460d18  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::(anonymous namespace)::InvokeWithArgArray(art::ScopedObjectAccessAlreadyRunnable const&, art::ArtMethod*, art::(anonymous namespace)::ArgArray*, art::JValue*, char const*)+104)
    #48 pc 0000000000461de0  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::InvokeVirtualOrInterfaceWithJValues(art::ScopedObjectAccessAlreadyRunnable const&, _jobject*, _jmethodID*, jvalue*)+424)
    #49 pc 000000000048ccb0  /system/lib64/libart.so (art::Thread::CreateCallback(void*)+1120)

Frames #42-#49 are the VM itself. This time it's the code that starts running Java on a new thread.

    #50 pc 0000000000082e24  /system/lib64/libc.so (__pthread_start(void*)+36)
    #51 pc 00000000000233bc  /system/lib64/libc.so (__start_thread+68)

Frames #50-#51 are how all threads should actually start. This is the libc new thread start code. A handy tip is that you know you have a successful and complete unwind if you see these frames. Any time you don't see these frames at the bottom of your stack, you should be suspicious that you're either looking at a truncated stack or at a corrupted stack: you shouldn't blindly assume that the stack is correct if it doesn't end this way.