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5.5.5 Interrupted System Calls

There is an unfortunate side effect when using GDB to debug multi-threaded programs. If one thread stops for a breakpoint, or for some other reason, and another thread is blocked in a system call, then the system call may return prematurely. This is a consequence of the interaction between multiple threads and the signals that GDB uses to implement breakpoints and other events that stop execution.

To handle this problem, your program should check the return value of each system call and react appropriately. This is good programming style anyways.

For example, do not write code like this:

  sleep (10);

The call to sleep will return early if a different thread stops at a breakpoint or for some other reason.

Instead, write this:

  int unslept = 10;
  while (unslept > 0)
    unslept = sleep (unslept);

A system call is allowed to return early, so the system is still conforming to its specification. But GDB does cause your multi-threaded program to behave differently than it would without GDB.

Also, GDB uses internal breakpoints in the thread library to monitor certain events such as thread creation and thread destruction. When such an event happens, a system call in another thread may return prematurely, even though your program does not appear to stop.