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This repository has been archived by the owner on Nov 3, 2020. It is now read-only.


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xendbg - A modern Xen debugger

xendbg is a feature-complete reference implementation of a modern Xen VMI debugger, superseding Xen's own limited and rarely-maintained gdbsx. It can debug both paravirtualized (PV) and hardware virtualized (HVM) guests, and provides both a standalone REPL and an LLDB server mode.

Note: The author of this program no longer works at NCC Group. As such, this repository has been archived, and development has moved to a new fork at SpencerMichaels/xendbg. Please direct any new issues, pull requests, and communication there.


  • Supports 32- and 64-bit x86 Xen guests, both PV and HVM
  • LLDB server mode
  • Standalone REPL mode
  • Register read/write
  • Memory read/write
  • Breakpoints
  • Watchpoints (HVM only due to Xen API limitations)

Server mode

When started with --server, xendbg will start up an LLDB server on the specified port. A Xen domain may also be specified using the --attach option, which will tell xendbg to connect to that domain immediately and close the connection when it is destroyed. Otherwise, it will open one port per Xen domain, starting at the given port and counting up. The server will open and close ports as domains are created and destroyed, and will only exit when the user explicitly sends a CTRL-C.

In either case, LLDB can then connect to any of xendbg's ports using the gdb-remote command, providing the user with a seamless and familiar debugging experience.

LLDB mode


REPL mode

If started without --server, xendbg will run a standalone REPL in the foreground. This mode still provides all of the debugging features that the LLDB server supports, and some users may prefer it over LLDB's CLI interface. xendbg's REPL, while somewhat simpler than that of the LLDB CLI, does provide common CLI debugger comfort features, including tab completion, expressions, and variables.

Type help at the REPL for a full list of commands.


  • Contextual tab completion: Hit <tab> at any point to list completion options; if only one option is available, it will be expanded automatically.
  • Expressions: Any statements that take numerical values can also take expressions, e.g. disassemble $rip+0x10 0x20. Besides addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and parenthesization, expressions also support:
    • The C-style dereference operator *, which will interpret its operand as an address in guest memory and read either a 32- or 64-bit value from that location, depending on the bitness of the guest.
    • Symbol resolution via the & operator.
  • Symbols: Symbols can be loaded via symbol load <filename>, and thereafter any valid symbol name prefixed with & will evaluate to the address of that symbol and can be used in an expression, e.g. print &rumprun_main1
  • Variables: Any C-style variable name prefaced with a dollar sign $ is treated as a variable. Variables can be set with set $my_var = {expression} and unset with unset $my_var. In addition, when attached to a guest, its registers will be given variable semantics, so they can be read/written directly via the set/print commands, e.g. set $rax = $rbx + 0x1000.

REPL mode

Command line options

-h,--help                   Print this help message and exit
-n,--non-stop-mode          Enable non-stop mode (HVM only), making step,
                              continue, breakpoints, etc. only apply to the
                              current thread.
-d,--debug                  Enable debug logging.
-s,--server PORT            Start as an LLDB stub server on the given port.
                              If omitted, xendbg will run as a standalone REPL.
-i,--ip PORT Needs: --server
                            Start the stub server on the given address.
-a,--attach DOMAIN          Attach to a single domain given either its domid
                              or name. If omitted, xendbg will start a server
                              for each domain on sequential ports starting from
                              PORT, adding and removing ports as domains start
                              up and shut down.

Building and installing


Ubuntu users can easily build and install xendbg by running in the root of the project (see also The script will install the necessary packages, pull and build the third-party dependencies, and finally build and install xendbg.


xendbg depends on the packages listed below. Exact names may differ on non-Ubuntu systems; these are from Ubuntu. Note that xendbg must be built with clang and libc++, as it uses C++17 features whose libstdc++ implementations are known to differ depending on the version of GCC.


xendbg also requires some third-party dependencies that are not available as Ubuntu packages.