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13.1.6 Tracepoint Action Lists

actions [num]

This command will prompt for a list of actions to be taken when the tracepoint is hit. If the tracepoint number num is not specified, this command sets the actions for the one that was most recently defined (so that you can define a tracepoint and then say actions without bothering about its number). You specify the actions themselves on the following lines, one action at a time, and terminate the actions list with a line containing just end. So far, the only defined actions are collect, teval, and while-stepping.

actions is actually equivalent to commands (see Breakpoint Command Lists), except that only the defined actions are allowed; any other GDB command is rejected.

To remove all actions from a tracepoint, type ‘actions num’ and follow it immediately with ‘end’.

(gdb) collect data // collect some data

(gdb) while-stepping 5 // single-step 5 times, collect data

(gdb) end              // signals the end of actions.

In the following example, the action list begins with collect commands indicating the things to be collected when the tracepoint is hit. Then, in order to single-step and collect additional data following the tracepoint, a while-stepping command is used, followed by the list of things to be collected after each step in a sequence of single steps. The while-stepping command is terminated by its own separate end command. Lastly, the action list is terminated by an end command.

(gdb) trace foo
(gdb) actions
Enter actions for tracepoint 1, one per line:
> collect bar,baz
> collect $regs
> while-stepping 12
  > collect $pc, arr[i]
  > end
collect[/mods] expr1, expr2, …

Collect values of the given expressions when the tracepoint is hit. This command accepts a comma-separated list of any valid expressions. In addition to global, static, or local variables, the following special arguments are supported:


Collect all registers.


Collect all function arguments.


Collect all local variables.


Collect the return address. This is helpful if you want to see more of a backtrace.

Note: The return address location can not always be reliably determined up front, and the wrong address / registers may end up collected instead. On some architectures the reliability is higher for tracepoints at function entry, while on others it’s the opposite. When this happens, backtracing will stop because the return address is found unavailable (unless another collect rule happened to match it).


Collects the number of arguments from the static probe at which the tracepoint is located. See Static Probe Points.


n is an integer between 0 and 11. Collects the nth argument from the static probe at which the tracepoint is located. See Static Probe Points.


Collect static tracepoint marker specific data. Only available for static tracepoints. See Tracepoint Action Lists. On the UST static tracepoints library backend, an instrumentation point resembles a printf function call. The tracing library is able to collect user specified data formatted to a character string using the format provided by the programmer that instrumented the program. Other backends have similar mechanisms. Here’s an example of a UST marker call:

 const char master_name[] = "$your_name";
 trace_mark(channel1, marker1, "hello %s", master_name)

In this case, collecting $_sdata collects the string ‘hello $yourname’. When analyzing the trace buffer, you can inspect ‘$_sdata’ like any other variable available to GDB.

You can give several consecutive collect commands, each one with a single argument, or one collect command with several arguments separated by commas; the effect is the same.

The optional mods changes the usual handling of the arguments. s requests that pointers to chars be handled as strings, in particular collecting the contents of the memory being pointed at, up to the first zero. The upper bound is by default the value of the print characters variable; if s is followed by a decimal number, that is the upper bound instead. So for instance ‘collect/s25 mystr’ collects as many as 25 characters at ‘mystr’.

The command info scope (see info scope) is particularly useful for figuring out what data to collect.

teval expr1, expr2, …

Evaluate the given expressions when the tracepoint is hit. This command accepts a comma-separated list of expressions. The results are discarded, so this is mainly useful for assigning values to trace state variables (see Trace State Variables) without adding those values to the trace buffer, as would be the case if the collect action were used.

while-stepping n

Perform n single-step instruction traces after the tracepoint, collecting new data after each step. The while-stepping command is followed by the list of what to collect while stepping (followed by its own end command):

> while-stepping 12
  > collect $regs, myglobal
  > end

Note that $pc is not automatically collected by while-stepping; you need to explicitly collect that register if you need it. You may abbreviate while-stepping as ws or stepping.

set default-collect expr1, expr2, …

This variable is a list of expressions to collect at each tracepoint hit. It is effectively an additional collect action prepended to every tracepoint action list. The expressions are parsed individually for each tracepoint, so for instance a variable named xyz may be interpreted as a global for one tracepoint, and a local for another, as appropriate to the tracepoint’s location.

show default-collect

Show the list of expressions that are collected by default at each tracepoint hit.

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