Know your dev tools – part 1

November 22, 2007 at 13:27 | Posted in tools | 3 Comments
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The Chinook SDK has been out now for a while and it feels like a good time to highlight some of the tools that were released with it.

Like mentioned earlier, a set of previously closed tools was made open source with the Chinook SDK release. These tools were made in-house by and for our developers. Now they’re also available for you through the Chinook SDK repository.

This time I’m going to talk about sp-error-visualizer and sp-rich-core.

sp-error-visualizer

The error visualizer tool pops up a notification banner every time something matching a pattern gets written to the syslog. It’s a simple idea that will help you notice those sporadic errors that you just can’t reproduce reliably and otherwise might go unnoticed in the log writings. You can naturally define the match pattern to whatever you are looking for.

This tool is especially useful on the device where you often can’t view the logs while running an application.

Error visualizer pop-up

sp-rich-core

The rich core is one of my favorites. The idea is to provide a better view of the whole system’s state at the time your program happens to crash.

Normally when a program crashes it will produce a core dump file, which is the run-time memory and state dump of the program. The developer can then open this core dump with a debugger (gdb) and observe the state of the program at the time it crashed. Many times this is enough to reveal the reason to the crash, but sometimes it can be difficult to understand why the program ended up in that state. At those times any extra information is a blessing.

With the sp-rich-core installed, when a program crashes it will not only produce the core dump file, but it will also take a snapshot of many things in the system. Then all these files are compressed together with the core dump to a rich core (.rcore) package.

The developer can now open up this package with the rich-core-extract utility and have all the extra information of the system’s state available along with the normal core dump file.

More about tools

Learn more about these and other tools from maemo.org:

http://maemo.org/development/tools/

I plan to write this kind of short tool blurbs maybe once a fortnight or so. Let me know if you like the idea.

The tools guy,

-Juha

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3 Comments »

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  1. Yep, I like the idea, please do.

  2. Very Interesting

    is there any reason not to enable this rcores on life devices?

    What does sp stand for?

  3. Hi, it’s perfectly safe to enable the rich cores on the device. If you want to enable core dumping (not just for rich cores), be sure to read about it in the maemo debugging guide how-to or in the sp-rich-core tool documentation.

    I knew someone was going to ask about the sp- prefix :-) I asked that the other day from my colleagues and there were a couple of theories. One is that it stands for System Performance, which is the team that originated these tools. The other theory is that the sp- tools were originally implemented by a guy whose initials are SP. You may find his name in some of the source packages.


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