Sometimes you need to get a stacktrace (call stack) for a Firefox crash or hang but Talkback or Breakpad fail because it's a special crasher or a hang. This article describes how to get a stacktrace in those cases with WinDbg on Windows.
To get such a stacktrace you need to install the following software:
Debugging Tools for Windows
Microsoft distributes the Debugging Tools for Windows for free, those include WinDbg which you will need here. Download it from Install Debugging Tools for Windows 32-bit Version for 32-bit versions of Windows (if you own a 64-bit version of Windows, follow the link on that page to the 64-bit version). Then install it, the standard settings in the installation process are fine.
A Firefox nightly or release
You need a Firefox version for which symbols are availables from the Mozilla symbol server to use with WinDbg. You can use any official nightly build or release from MoFo. You can find the latest trunk nightly builds under http://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.o.../latest-trunk/.
To begin debugging, run WinDbg from the Start menu. (Start->All Programs->Debugging Tools for Windows->WinDbg) Next, open the "File" menu and choose "Open Executable...". In the file chooser window that appears, open the firefox.exe executable in your Firefox program folder (C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox).
You should now see a "Command" text window with debug output at the top and an input box at the bottom. Before debugging can start, several commands must be entered into the one-line input box at the bottom of the Command window.
First, you need to configure your WinDbg to download symbols from the Mozilla symbol server. To load the symbols, enter the three commands below, pressing enter after each one. (More details are available at Using the Mozilla symbol server.)
Tip: All commands must be entered exactly as written, one line at a time, into the bottom of the Command box.
- Copying and pasting each line is the easiest method to avoid mistakes
- Some commands start with a period (.) or a pipe character (|), which is required. (The keystroke for a pipe character on US keyboards is SHIFT+\)
- Submit the log file on a bug or via the support site, even if nothing seems to happen during the debug process
.sympath SRV*c:\symbols*http://symbols.mozilla.org/firefox;SRV*c:\symbols*http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols .symfix+ c:\symbols .reload /f
Now wait for the symbols to download. This may take some time depending on your connection speed; the total size of the download is around 70MB. WinDbg will show "Busy" at the bottom of the application window until the download is complete.
Once the download is complete, you need to configure WinDbg to examine child processes, ignore a specific event caused by Flash Player, and record a log of loaded modules. You will also want to open a log file to save data you collect. To do this, enter these four commands, pressing enter after each one.
.logopen /t c:\firefox-debug.log .childdbg 1 .tlist sxn gp |* lm
Now run Firefox by opening the Debug menu and clicking Go. Try to reproduce the crash or hanging issue that you are seeing. If the browser crashes, you will see an error (such as "Access violation") in the WinDbg Command window. You need to capture the debug information to include in a bug comment or support request. Enter these three commands, one at a time, to get the stacktrace, crash analysis and log of loaded modules. (Again, press Enter after each command.)
|* ~* kp |* !analyze -v -f |* lm
If Firefox has quit responding and you don't see an error message in the WinDbg Command window, this probably means that Firefox is hung, so open the Debug menu and choose Break to start debugging and enter these three commands, one at a time, to get the stacktrace, hang analysis and a log of loaded modules. (Again, press Enter after each command.)
|* ~* kp |* !analyze -v -hang |* lm
After these steps are completed, find the file c:\firefox-debug-(Today's Date).txt on your hard drive. To provide the information to the development community, submit this file with a support request or attach it to a related bug on Bugzilla.
Q: I am running Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit) and I see an exception in the WinDbg command window that says 'ntdll32!LdrpDoDebuggerBreak+0x2c' or 'ntdll32!LdrpDoDebuggerBreak+0x30'. What do I do now?
A: If you see 'int 3' after either of those exceptions, you will need to execute the following commands in WinDbg.
eb ntdll!LdrpDoDebuggerBreak+0x30 0x90
eb ntdll!LdrpDoDebuggerBreak+0x2c 0x90
Make sure you enter them one at a time and press enter after each one.
Q: The first four frames of my stack trace look like this:
0012fe20 7c90e89a ntdll!KiFastSystemCallRet 0012fe24 7c81cd96 ntdll!ZwTerminateProcess+0xc 0012ff20 7c81cdee kernel32!_ExitProcess+0x62 0012ff34 6000179e kernel32!ExitProcess+0x14
This looks wrong to me?!
A: You ran the application without the "Debug child processes also" check box being checked. You need to detach the debugger and open the application again, this time with the check box being checked.
Q: WinDbg tells me that it is unable to verify checksum for firefox.exe. Is this normal?
A: Yes, this is normal and can be ignored.
Q: Should I click yes or no when WinDbg asks me to "Save information for workspace?"
A: Click yes and WinDbg will save you from having to enter in the symbol location for Firefox.exe in the future. Click no if you'd rather not having WinDbg save this information.