attach to running Python process
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Latest commit 97727ff Mar 20, 2015

pydbattach - attach to running Python process

It probably should have been called pydbgattach or so but I didn't noticed until I went to bed so I keep this name now. :)

This works in several steps:

  1. We are attaching to the running Python process and want to inject some C-code pyinjectcode.c.

    Originally I planned to develop a small tool for this by myself based on ptrace. For Mac, I also found mach_inject which may have been useful.

    However, to keep things simple for now, I just use GDB for this.

    See the file which basically does this step.

  2. pyinjectcode.c creates a new Python thread and runs a Python script. In our case, it runs

  3. starts a Pdb instance and attaches it to another already running Python process (just the first it founds for now). This is done via a more generic sys.settrace function which is implemented in

  4. heavily uses (_)ctypes to access the underlying CPython objects for the thread state. This way, it reimplements PyEval_SetTrace in a more general way.

Similar alternatives, to attach to running CPython process without having it prepared beforehand. Those usually use the OS debugging capabilities (or use gdb/lldb) to attach to the native CPython process and then inject some code or just analyze the native CPython thread stacks.

There are other alternatives where you prepare your Python script beforehand to listen on some (tcp/file) socket to provide an interface for remote debugging and/or just a Python shell / REPL.

Some overviews and collected code examples:

-- Albert Zeyer,