Debugging the kernel

Kernels can be difficult to debug - this page tries to collect useful techniques for debugging kernels in general, and also any Poplar specific things that might be useful.

Poplar specific: the breakpoint exception

The breakpoint exception is useful for inspecting the contents of registers at specific points, such as in sections of assembly (where it's inconvenient to call into Rust, or to use a debugger because getting global_asm! to play nicely with GDB is a pain).

Simply use the int3 instruction:


mov rsp, [gs:0x10]
int3  // Is my user stack pointer correct?

Building OVMF

Building a debug build of OVMF isn't too hard (from the base of the edk2 repo):

OvmfPkg/ -a X64

By default, debug builds of OVMF will output debugging information on the ISA debugcon, which is actually probably nicer for our purposes than most builds, which pass DEBUG_ON_SERIAL_PORT during the build. To log the output to a file, you can pass -debugcon file:ovmf_debug.log -global isa-debugcon.iobase=0x402 to QEMU.