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Reverse debugging!

A few weeks ago I happened to be in Palo Alto and met up with my friend and long-time GDB hacker Michael Snyder. He told me about a new feature in GDB called "process recording". The basic idea is that when you tell GDB to enter into "record mode", it records undo information for every instruction executed during the debug process. This lets you switch direction and start stepping through your code backwards in time! It's a pretty amazing feature.

I was anxious to implement it for moxie, but only got around to it this weekend. The moxie ISA is relatively small, so it wasn't much work. The patch looks something like this. And, as promised, you can now step forwards and backwards through moxie code. Reverse "continue" and "finish" also work. It's going to be really handy when I get back to working the Linux kernel port.

Some GDB front-ends already have the controls in place for reverse debugging. Here's a webinar showing reverse debugging on Eclipse. I mostly use Emacs as my moxie-elf-gdb frontend, but I'm not sure if it supports the reverse instructions nicely yet (of course you can "set exec-direction reverse" and use the normal step/next/continue commands).

Thanks to Micheal for pointing me at this new feature, and to Tea Water for implementing process recording in the first place.

UPDATE:Emacs support for reverse debugging should be arriving in 23.2. I'm not sure what the schedule for that is, but 23.1 is supposed to come out next week (July 22).

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