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2.1.3 What GDB Does During Startup

Here’s the description of what GDB does during session startup:

  1. Sets up the command interpreter as specified by the command line (see interpreter).
  2. Reads the system-wide init file (if --with-system-gdbinit was used when building GDB; see System-wide configuration and settings) and the files in the system-wide gdbinit directory (if --with-system-gdbinit-dir was used) and executes all the commands in those files. The files need to be named with a .gdb extension to be interpreted as GDB commands, or they can be written in a supported scripting language with an appropriate file extension.
  3. Reads the init file (if any) in your home directory1 and executes all the commands in that file.
  4. Executes commands and command files specified by the ‘-iex’ and ‘-ix’ options in their specified order. Usually you should use the ‘-ex’ and ‘-x’ options instead, but this way you can apply settings before GDB init files get executed and before inferior gets loaded.
  5. Processes command line options and operands.
  6. Reads and executes the commands from init file (if any) in the current working directory as long as ‘set auto-load local-gdbinit’ is set to ‘on’ (see Init File in the Current Directory). This is only done if the current directory is different from your home directory. Thus, you can have more than one init file, one generic in your home directory, and another, specific to the program you are debugging, in the directory where you invoke GDB.
  7. If the command line specified a program to debug, or a process to attach to, or a core file, GDB loads any auto-loaded scripts provided for the program or for its loaded shared libraries. See Auto-loading.

    If you wish to disable the auto-loading during startup, you must do something like the following:

    $ gdb -iex "set auto-load python-scripts off" myprogram

    Option ‘-ex’ does not work because the auto-loading is then turned off too late.

  8. Executes commands and command files specified by the ‘-ex’ and ‘-x’ options in their specified order. See Command Files, for more details about GDB command files.
  9. Reads the command history recorded in the history file. See Command History, for more details about the command history and the files where GDB records it.

Init files use the same syntax as command files (see Command Files) and are processed by GDB in the same way. The init file in your home directory can set options (such as ‘set complaints’) that affect subsequent processing of command line options and operands. Init files are not executed if you use the ‘-nx’ option (see Choosing Modes).

To display the list of init files loaded by gdb at startup, you can use gdb --help.

The GDB init files are normally called .gdbinit. The DJGPP port of GDB uses the name gdb.ini, due to the limitations of file names imposed by DOS filesystems. The Windows port of GDB uses the standard name, but if it finds a gdb.ini file in your home directory, it warns you about that and suggests to rename the file to the standard name.



On DOS/Windows systems, the home directory is the one pointed to by the HOME environment variable.

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