The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Not anyone should be allowed to run a debugger

I'm working on “Project: America-­On-­Line-­Instant-­Messenger” (hey, don't judge me—it has nothing to to with AOL, it's more a pun on the project name than anything else). I've got a major portion of it running, but it's exhibiting some odd behavior—it runs fine on Linux, but fails rather quickly on Mac OS-X with “not enough memory.”

Problem one—I'm used to using gdb, but Mac OS-X uses lldb. Sigh. I did find a type of Rosetta Stone that shows similar commands in both gdb and lldb, so that issue is solved.

I was then able to track down the message to a source file in LPeg, but when I set a breakpoint on the line in question, it never got triggered. Puzzling, but I was not able to solve the issue by the time I had to leave work.

So now I'm home and I have an idea to scan more than just the .c files. It's a simple matter to log into my Mac workstation at work to see if that's the issue. I start looking, and lo, I find the message in two more locations, hidden behind a #define in a header file. I narrow it down to just one location (the other location pre-loading the string into the Lua VM).

First, the lldb commands are bit more verbose than those of gdb. Second, no matter what I do, all I get is:

(lldb) target create "XXXXXX­XXX"
Current executable set to 'XXXXX­XXXX' (x86_64).
(lldb) process launch -- config.lua
error: process exited with status -1 (lost connection)

Nothing I do works.

Then I remember—when I first ran lldb at the office, this modal dialog box popped up asking for my password in order to debug a program I wrote, running under my account. My initial reaction is, Smooth going, Apple! Way to protect me from myself! But then I realize this is probably to prevent rogue programs trying to attach to running programs to do nefarious things without my knowledge.

It's bad enough I have to jump through hoops to get the computer to run my own written programs. Now this?


It really does seem at times as if the general purpose computer is a dinosaur looking up at the sky, wondering, “What is that?”

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