the power of gdb

Yesterday I was running long file system stress test (fsx if you want to know) when X server on my workstation locked up completely (because it ran on a heavily patched kernel as turned out later). One consequence of this was that xterm which fsx output was going to, went, together with X server, to the land of Eternal GoodDrawable and stopped caring about silly clients sending frantic write(2)s to it.

fsx stopped which was unfortunate. So I logged to the test box and did
$ gdb fsx $(pgrep fsx) # attach to the fsx
(gdb) bt
#0 0x90010760 in write ()
#1 0x90026104 in _swrite ()
#2 0x90020c80 in __sflush ()
#3 0x90031e00 in __fflush ()
#4 0x90006e4c in __sfvwrite ()
#5 0x90006ef0 in __sprint ()
#6 0x90006a48 in __vfprintf ()
#7 0x9000c76c in vfprintf ()
#8 0x000025a0 in prt ()
#9 0x00004a0c in dotruncate ()
#10 0x000051c0 in test ()
#11 0x0000659c in main ()
#12 0x0000220c in _start (argc=2, argv=0xbffffa14, envp=0xbffffa20) at /SourceCache/Csu/Csu-46/crt.c:267
#13 0x00002080 in start ()
(gdb) # yes it really stuck doing write to the stdout. And yes, this is Mac OS X.
(gdb) # now fun part begins
(gdb) call (int)close(1) # close standard output
$1 = 0
(gdb) # it worked! Leave fsx in piece...
(gdb) detach
(gdb) quit
and test was running further happily.
The moral: gdb can save your day.

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