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README

XLIBTRACE 0.1
=============

by Kevin Pulo, kev@pulo.com.au
http://www.kev.pulo.com.au/xlibtrace/
Copyright (c) 2007-2009
Licensed under the GNU GPL v2 or higher, as in the COPYING file.


DESCRIPTION
-----------

xlibtrace displays the interaction between X11 client programs and the
X11 client shared library (libX11.so), by showing the Xlib calls that
are made.  Output is shown in a similar style to strace(1).

xlibtrace works by using the $LD_PRELOAD dynamic linker option to
insert itself between the target X11 client program and libX11.so.
This allows it to "intercept" all calls to X functions, whereupon it
has the opportunity to print the name of the function being called,
along with any arguments and return value.

xlibtrace allows the user to investigate which X functions are being
called, when they are being called, what parameters are passed and
what the return value is.  This can be particularly useful when
analysing the behaviour of closed-source X11 programs.


DEPENDENCIES
------------

- X11R6

- The build process additionally requires the Xlib header files, as
  well as sed and awk.


INSTALLATION
------------

Standard autoconf process:  ./configure && make && make install


USAGE
-----

    xlibtrace [options] <program> [args...]

Valid options are:

  --stderr          Send output to stderr (default)
  --stdout          Send output to stdout
  -o filename       Send output to the specified file
  -a, --append      Append output to file specified by -o

  --single          Trace only the specified program, and not any
                    other subsequently forked processes.  Useful for
                    tracing xterms, etc.

  --prompt          Prompt user prior to each call.  Useful for
                    interactively stepping through the X11 calls.
  --sleep us        Sleep for the given microseconds after each call.
                    Useful for artificially slowing down the client.
  --xflush          Call XFlush() after each call.  Useful in
                    conjunction with --prompt or --sleep to interactively
                    step through drawing commands, etc.
  --xsync, --sync   Call XSync(..., False) after each call.  Useful in
                    conjunction with --prompt or --sleep to interactively
                    step through drawing commands, etc.
  --fflush          Call fflush() after each line of output.
  --flush           Equivalent to --xflush --fflush

  --show-implementation-dependent-structs
                    Show the contents of structs that are xlib
                    implementation dependent, but still publicly
                    declared in XFree86/Xorg (may cause segfaults)


EXAMPLES
--------

Refer to the examples/ subdirectory for some sample output from running
some of these commands on my system.

* Some simple examples:

  $ xlibtrace xlogo
  $ xlibtrace xeyes
  $ xlibtrace xclock

* Tracing an xterm:

  $ xlibtrace --single xterm

* Observing how xlogo draws the logo:

  $ xlibtrace --sleep 100000 --flush xlogo
  $ xlibtrace --sleep 100000 --sync xlogo
  $ xlibtrace --prompt --flush xlogo

* Trace an xterm, which then traces an xlogo:

  $ xlibtrace xterm -e xlogo

* Trace xfig (very verbose output):

  $ xlibtrace -o xfig-xtrace.log xfig

* Trace the closed-source PDF viewer from Adobe:

  $ xlibtrace -o acroread-xtrace.log acroread


LIMITATIONS
-----------

The usual $LD_PRELOAD caveats apply, ie:

- Only works with dynamically linked binaries.

- For setuid/setgid binaries, the libxlibtrace.so shared library must be
  installed in a system location and have matching setuid/setgid permissions.


FEEDBACK
--------

Comments, feature suggestions, bug reports, patches, etc are most
welcome, please send them to Kevin Pulo <kev@pulo.com.au>.


SEE ALSO
--------

- xtrace: http://xtrace.alioth.debian.org/
- GNU xnee: http://www.gnu.org/software/xnee/

Both of these projects deal more with the X protocol, that is, the interface
between the Xlib client library and the X server.  xlibtrace deals with the
interface between the client application and the Xlib client library (ie. the
local libX11 shared library).


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LD_PRELOAD library to trace libX11 calls

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