Monday, April 2, 2007

XPe tip #11: Debugging - VS2005 and WinDbg

On Embedded devices we are often required to do some debugging various issues from driver install to application flow. With regards to applications and anything running in user mode everything is simple and straightforward - just stick to Microsoft Visual Studio (better the latest and greatest - VS2005 or coming Orcas) with Remote Debugging feature (firewall caveat on SP2). But how to handle driver debugging?

No easy answer there. The only option is probably KD (Kernel Debugger). There are a few debugger on the market (WinDbg, SoftIce, etc.) but I tend to think for XP and later only WinDbg has the real power to keep up with Microsoft changing environment. The latest version (6.6.7.5 to the moment) has lots of nice new features, although for XPe development we probably only need the basics. So, the winner is WinDbg (obviously, only 32-bit version is interesting option for us, XPe developers).

It requires a little bit of effort to setup the debugger to connect remotely your development PC, where you install the WinDbg tools, and target machine. Here is how you can enable remote debugging on SP2 (firewall setup, policies and etc.). And don't forget to setup the symbols.

For XP(e) you'd probably stick to COM or 1394 debugging. For Vista targets I loved the USB 2.0 kernel debugging support feature.

And you can certainly use WinDbg to debug services.

Very nice tutorial and lots of useful info about debugging with WinDbg I happened to fin on my favortie CodeProject.

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