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SubjectRe: [RFC] Proposal for ptrace improvements
On Tue, Mar 1, 2011 at 4:24 PM, Tejun Heo <> wrote:
> --------
> ...
> P5. "^Z" and "fg" for tracees
> A ptracer, as it currently stands and proposed here, has full control
> over the execution state of its tracee.  The tracer is notified
> whenever the tracee stops and can always resume its execution;
> however, there is one missing piece.
> As proposed, when a tracee enters jctl stop, it enters TASK_TRACED
> from which emission of SIGCONT can't resume the tracee.  This makes it
> impossible for a tracer to become transparent with respect to jctl.
> For example, after strace(1) is attached to a task, the task can be
> ^Z'd but then can't be fg'd.
> One approach to this problem is somehow making it work implicitly from
> the kernel - as in putting the tracee into TASK_STOPPED or somehow
> handling TASK_TRACED for jctl stop differently; however, I think such
> approach is cumbersome in both concept and implementation.  Instead of
> being able to say "while ptraced, a tracee's execution is fully under
> the control of its tracer", subtle and fragile exceptions need to be
> introduced.
> A better way to solve this is simply giving the tracer the capability
> to listen for the end of jctl stop.  That way, the problem is solved
> in a manner which is consistent, may not be to everyone's liking but
> nonetheless consistent, with the rest of ptrace.  Execution state of
> the tracee is always under the control of the tracer.  The only thing
> which changes is that the tracer now can find out when jctl stop ends,
> which also could be an additional useful debugging feature.
> It would be most fitting to use wait(2) for delivery of this
> notification.  WCONTINUED is the obvious candidate but I think it is
> better to use STOPPED notification because the task is not really
> resumed.  Only its mode of stop changes.  What state the tracee is in
> can be determined by retriving siginfo using PTRACE_GETSIGINFO.
> This also effectively makes the notification level-triggered instead
> of edge-triggered, which is a big plus.  No matter which state the
> tracee is in, a jctl stopped notification is guaranteed to happen
> after the lastest event and the tracer can always find out the latest
> Using stopped notification also makes the new addition harmless to the
> existing users.  It's just another stopped notification.  Both
> strace(1) and gdb(1) don't distinguish the signal delivery and jctl
> stop notifications and react the same way by resuming the tracee
> unconditionally.  One more stopped notification on SIGCONT emission
> doesn't change much.

Let's spell this out in detail. Please correct me if
I misunderstood your proposal:

We have a stopped task under ptrace.
(More precisely: debugger got a WSTOPPED notification via waitpid.
Debugger decided to emulate the job control stop, therefore it
keeps tracee stopped, therefore it just waits on waitpid
without doing any PTRACE_CONTs).

Another task sends SIGCONT to the tracee.

Debugger gets waitpid notification of the

Debugger can check PTRACE_GETSIGINFO, which succeeds.
Debugger now knows it's a signal delivery notification.
(This step looks optional, since currently
WSTOPPED, WSTOPSIG == SIGCONT combination is only possible
on signal delivery, unlike, for example,
WSTOPPED, WSTOPSIG == SIGSTOP, which is ambiguous).

Debugger performs PTRACE_CONT(SIGCONT) - it injects the signal.
[Question: what if debugger doesn't? IOW: is it possible
for debugger to suppress SIGCONTs, or not?
IOW2: what should happen if debugger
(a) does not do any PTRACE_CONT at all? or
(b) does PTRACE_CONT(<other_sig>)? or
(c) does PTRACE_CONT(0)?

Debugger gets WCONTINUED waitpid notification.
[question: do we need this?]

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