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PTRACE(2)                  Linux Programmer's Manual                 PTRACE(2)

       ptrace - process trace

       #include <&lt;sys/ptrace.h>&gt;

       long ptrace(enum __ptrace_request request, pid_t pid,
                   void *addr, void *data);

       The ptrace() system call provides a means by which a parent process may
       observe and control the execution of another process, and  examine  and
       change its core image and registers.  It is primarily used to implement
       breakpoint debugging and system call tracing.

       The parent can initiate a trace  by  calling  fork(2)  and  having  the
       resulting  child  do  a  PTRACE_TRACEME,  followed  (typically)  by  an
       exec(3).  Alternatively, the parent may commence trace of  an  existing
       process using PTRACE_ATTACH.

       While  being  traced,  the child will stop each time a signal is deliv-
       ered, even if the signal is being ignored.  (The exception is  SIGKILL,
       which  has  its usual effect.)  The parent will be notified at its next
       wait(2) and may inspect and  modify  the  child  process  while  it  is
       stopped.   The  parent  then  causes  the child to continue, optionally
       ignoring the delivered signal (or even delivering  a  different  signal

       When  the  parent  is finished tracing, it can terminate the child with
       PTRACE_KILL or cause it to continue executing  in  a  normal,  untraced
       mode via PTRACE_DETACH.

       The value of request determines the action to be performed:

              Indicates  that this process is to be traced by its parent.  Any
              signal (except SIGKILL) delivered to this process will cause  it
              to  stop  and  its parent to be notified via wait(2).  Also, all
              subsequent calls to execve(2) by this process will cause a  SIG-
              TRAP  to  be sent to it, giving the parent a chance to gain con-
              trol before the new program begins execution.  A process  proba-
              bly shouldn't make this request if its parent isn't expecting to
              trace it.  (pid, addr, and data are ignored.)

       The above request is used only by the child process; the rest are  used
       only by the parent.  In the following requests, pid specifies the child
       process to be acted on.  For requests other than PTRACE_KILL, the child
       process must be stopped.

              Reads a word at the location addr in the child's memory, return-
              ing the word as the result of the ptrace() call.  Linux does not
              have  separate text and data address spaces, so the two requests
              are currently equivalent.  (The argument data is ignored.)

              Reads a word at offset addr in  the  child's  USER  area,  which
              holds the registers and other information about the process (see
              &lt;linux/user.h&gt; and &lt;sys/user.h&gt;).  The word is returned  as  the
              result of the ptrace() call.  Typically the offset must be word-
              aligned, though this might vary  by  architecture.   See  NOTES.
              (data is ignored.)

              Copies the word data to location addr in the child's memory.  As
              above, the two requests are currently equivalent.

              Copies the word data to offset addr in the  child's  USER  area.
              As  above,  the offset must typically be word-aligned.  In order
              to maintain the integrity of the kernel, some  modifications  to
              the USER area are disallowed.

              Copies  the child's general purpose or floating-point registers,
              respectively,   to   location   data   in   the   parent.    See
              &lt;linux/user.h&gt;  for  information  on  the  format  of this data.
              (addr is ignored.)

       PTRACE_GETSIGINFO (since Linux 2.3.99-pre6)
              Retrieve information about the  signal  that  caused  the  stop.
              Copies  a  siginfo_t structure (see sigaction(2)) from the child
              to location data in the parent.  (addr is ignored.)

              Copies the child's general purpose or floating-point  registers,
              respectively,   from  location  data  in  the  parent.   As  for
              PTRACE_POKEUSER, some general purpose register modifications may
              be disallowed.  (addr is ignored.)

       PTRACE_SETSIGINFO (since Linux 2.3.99-pre6)
              Set signal information.  Copies a siginfo_t structure from loca-
              tion data in the parent to the child.   This  will  only  affect
              signals  that  would normally be delivered to the child and were
              caught by the tracer.  It may be difficult to tell these  normal
              signals  from  synthetic  signals  generated by ptrace() itself.
              (addr is ignored.)

       PTRACE_SETOPTIONS (since Linux 2.4.6; see BUGS for caveats)
              Sets ptrace options from data in the parent.  (addr is ignored.)
              data  is  interpreted as a bit mask of options, which are speci-
              fied by the following flags:

              PTRACE_O_TRACESYSGOOD (since Linux 2.4.6)
                     When delivering syscall traps, set bit 7  in  the  signal
                     number (i.e., deliver (SIGTRAP | 0x80) This makes it easy
                     for the tracer to  tell  the  difference  between  normal
                     traps and those caused by a syscall.  (PTRACE_O_TRACESYS-
                     GOOD may not work on all architectures.)

              PTRACE_O_TRACEFORK (since Linux 2.5.46)
                     Stop the child at the next fork(2) call  with  SIGTRAP  |
                     PTRACE_EVENT_FORK &lt;&lt; 8  and  automatically  start tracing
                     the  newly  forked  process,  which  will  start  with  a
                     SIGSTOP.   The  PID  for the new process can be retrieved
                     with PTRACE_GETEVENTMSG.

              PTRACE_O_TRACEVFORK (since Linux 2.5.46)
                     Stop the child at the next vfork(2) call with  SIGTRAP  |
                     PTRACE_EVENT_VFORK &lt;&lt; 8  and  automatically start tracing
                     the newly  vforked  process,  which  will  start  with  a
                     SIGSTOP.   The  PID  for the new process can be retrieved
                     with PTRACE_GETEVENTMSG.

              PTRACE_O_TRACECLONE (since Linux 2.5.46)
                     Stop the child at the next clone(2) call with  SIGTRAP  |
                     PTRACE_EVENT_CLONE &lt;&lt; 8  and  automatically start tracing
                     the  newly  cloned  process,  which  will  start  with  a
                     SIGSTOP.   The  PID  for the new process can be retrieved
                     with  PTRACE_GETEVENTMSG.   This  option  may  not  catch
                     clone(2) calls in all cases.  If the child calls clone(2)
                     with the CLONE_VFORK  flag,  PTRACE_EVENT_VFORK  will  be
                     delivered  instead  if PTRACE_O_TRACEVFORK is set; other-
                     wise if the child calls clone(2) with the exit signal set
                     to   SIGCHLD,  PTRACE_EVENT_FORK  will  be  delivered  if
                     PTRACE_O_TRACEFORK is set.

              PTRACE_O_TRACEEXEC (since Linux 2.5.46)
                     Stop the child at the next execve(2) call with SIGTRAP  |
                     PTRACE_EVENT_EXEC &lt;&lt; 8.

              PTRACE_O_TRACEVFORKDONE (since Linux 2.5.60)
                     Stop  the  child  at  the completion of the next vfork(2)
                     call with SIGTRAP | PTRACE_EVENT_VFORK_DONE &lt;&lt; 8.

              PTRACE_O_TRACEEXIT (since Linux 2.5.60)
                     Stop   the    child    at    exit    with    SIGTRAP    |
                     PTRACE_EVENT_EXIT &lt;&lt; 8.   The  child's exit status can be
                     retrieved with PTRACE_GETEVENTMSG.   This  stop  will  be
                     done  early  during process exit when registers are still
                     available, allowing the tracer  to  see  where  the  exit
                     occurred,  whereas  the  normal exit notification is done
                     after the process is finished exiting.  Even though  con-
                     text  is  available,  the  tracer cannot prevent the exit
                     from happening at this point.

       PTRACE_GETEVENTMSG (since Linux 2.5.46)
              Retrieve a message (as an unsigned long) about the ptrace  event
              that  just happened, placing it in the location data in the par-
              ent.  For PTRACE_EVENT_EXIT this is  the  child's  exit  status.
              this is the PID of the new process.  Since Linux 2.6.18, the PID
              of     the     new     process    is    also    available    for
              PTRACE_EVENT_VFORK_DONE.  (addr is ignored.)

              Restarts the stopped child process.  If data is non-zero and not
              SIGSTOP,  it  is  interpreted as a signal to be delivered to the
              child; otherwise, no signal is delivered.   Thus,  for  example,
              the  parent  can  control  whether a signal sent to the child is
              delivered or not.  (addr is ignored.)

              Restarts the stopped child as for PTRACE_CONT, but arranges  for
              the child to be stopped at the next entry to or exit from a sys-
              tem call, or after execution of a  single  instruction,  respec-
              tively.  (The child will also, as usual, be stopped upon receipt
              of a signal.)  From the parent's  perspective,  the  child  will
              appear  to  have  been stopped by receipt of a SIGTRAP.  So, for
              PTRACE_SYSCALL, for example, the idea is to  inspect  the  argu-
              ments  to  the  system  call  at the first stop, then do another
              PTRACE_SYSCALL and inspect the return value of the  system  call
              at the second stop.  (addr is ignored.)

              For  PTRACE_SYSEMU,  continue  and  stop  on  entry  to the next
              syscall, which will not  be  executed.   For  PTRACE_SYSEMU_SIN-
              GLESTEP, do the same but also singlestep if not a syscall.  This
              call is used by programs like User Mode Linux that want to  emu-
              late  all the child's system calls.  (addr and data are ignored;
              not supported on all architectures.)

              Sends the child a SIGKILL to terminate it.  (addr and  data  are

              Attaches  to  the  process  specified in pid, making it a traced
              "child" of the calling process; the behavior of the child is  as
              if  it  had done a PTRACE_TRACEME.  The calling process actually
              becomes the parent of the child process for most purposes (e.g.,
              it  will  receive  notification  of  child events and appears in
              ps(1) output as the child's parent), but  a  getppid(2)  by  the
              child  will  still  return  the PID of the original parent.  The
              child is sent a SIGSTOP, but will not necessarily  have  stopped
              by  the  completion  of  this  call; use wait(2) to wait for the
              child to stop.  (addr and data are ignored.)

              Restarts  the  stopped  child  as  for  PTRACE_CONT,  but  first
              detaches  from  the  process,  undoing the reparenting effect of
              PTRACE_ATTACH, and the effects of PTRACE_TRACEME.  Although per-
              haps not intended, under Linux a traced child can be detached in
              this way regardless of which method was used to  initiate  trac-
              ing.  (addr is ignored.)

       On  success,  PTRACE_PEEK*  requests  return  the requested data, while
       other requests return zero.  On error,  all  requests  return  -1,  and
       errno  is  set appropriately.  Since the value returned by a successful
       PTRACE_PEEK* request may be -1, the caller must check errno after  such
       requests to determine whether or not an error occurred.

       EBUSY  (i386  only)  There  was  an  error with allocating or freeing a
              debug register.

       EFAULT There was an attempt to read from or write to an invalid area in
              the parent's or child's memory, probably because the area wasn't
              mapped or accessible.   Unfortunately,  under  Linux,  different
              variations  of this fault will return EIO or EFAULT more or less

       EINVAL An attempt was made to set an invalid option.

       EIO    request is invalid, or an attempt was made to read from or write
              to  an  invalid area in the parent's or child's memory, or there
              was a word-alignment violation, or an invalid signal was  speci-
              fied during a restart request.

       EPERM  The  specified  process cannot be traced.  This could be because
              the parent has insufficient privileges (the required  capability
              is  CAP_SYS_PTRACE);  non-root  processes cannot trace processes
              that they cannot send signals  to  or  those  running  set-user-
              ID/set-group-ID  programs,  for obvious reasons.  Alternatively,
              the process may already be being traced, or be init(8) (PID 1).

       ESRCH  The specified process does not exist, or is not currently  being
              traced  by  the  caller,  or  is  not stopped (for requests that
              require that).

       SVr4, 4.3BSD.

       Although arguments to ptrace() are interpreted according to the  proto-
       type  given,  glibc  currently declares ptrace() as a variadic function
       with only the request argument fixed.  This means that unneeded  trail-
       ing arguments may be omitted, though doing so makes use of undocumented
       gcc(1) behavior.

       init(8), the process with PID 1, may not be traced.

       The layout of the contents of memory and the USER area  are  quite  OS-
       and architecture-specific.  The offset supplied, and the data returned,
       might not entirely match with the definition of struct user.

       The size of a "word" is determined by the OS variant (e.g., for  32-bit
       Linux it is 32 bits, etc.).

       Tracing causes a few subtle differences in the semantics of traced pro-
       cesses.  For example, if a process is attached to  with  PTRACE_ATTACH,
       its original parent can no longer receive notification via wait(2) when
       it stops, and there is no way for the new parent to  effectively  simu-
       late this notification.

       When the parent receives an event with PTRACE_EVENT_* set, the child is
       not in the normal signal delivery path.  This means the  parent  cannot
       do  ptrace(PTRACE_CONT)  with a signal or ptrace(PTRACE_KILL).  kill(2)
       with a SIGKILL signal can be used instead to  kill  the  child  process
       after receiving one of these messages.

       This page documents the way the ptrace() call works currently in Linux.
       Its behavior differs noticeably on other flavors of Unix.  In any case,
       use of ptrace() is highly OS- and architecture-specific.

       The  SunOS man page describes ptrace() as "unique and arcane", which it
       is.  The proc-based debugging interface present in Solaris 2 implements
       a  superset  of  ptrace()  functionality in a more powerful and uniform

       On hosts with 2.6 kernel headers, PTRACE_SETOPTIONS is declared with  a
       different  value than the one for 2.4.  This leads to applications com-
       piled with such headers failing when run on 2.4 kernels.  This  can  be
       worked  around by redefining PTRACE_SETOPTIONS to PTRACE_OLDSETOPTIONS,
       if that is defined.

       gdb(1), strace(1), execve(2),  fork(2),  signal(2),  wait(2),  exec(3),

       This  page  is  part of release 3.05 of the Linux man-pages project.  A
       description of the project, and information about reporting  bugs,  can
       be found at http://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/.

Linux                             2008-05-21                         PTRACE(2)