Detecting if a process is being run under a debugger


Hi all,

I’ve asked previously how to detect if a process is being run under a debugger (in order to change the execution path if it’s the case).
I’ve now a cross platform solution for this:

static bool runningUnderDebugger();

#ifndef _WIN32 
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <sys/ptrace.h>

int underDebugger = 0;
// This works on both linux and MacOSX (and any BSD kernel).
bool runningUnderDebugger()
     static bool isCheckedAlready = false;
     if (!isCheckedAlready)
         if (ptrace(PTRACE_TRACEME, 0, 1, 0) < 0)
              underDebugger = 1;
         else ptrace(PTRACE_DETACH, 0, 1, 0);

         isCheckedAlready = true;
    return underDebugger == 1;
bool runningUnderDebugger()
     return IsDebuggerPresent() == TRUE;

The goal of this code is to avoid DEBUG compiled builds to stop with the awful "This program made a … " dialog box (or SIGTRAP) as soon as it encounters an assert when not run under a debugger.

You can use it like this:

#define BreakIfBeingDebugged    \
               if (runningUnderDebugger()) { __asm__{ int 3 }; /* or assert */ } \
               else { /* log the error or whatever, but don't assert */ }

So, if you run your code in Debug mode (-DDEBUG) and not under a debugger, the program will simply ignore the assert (with all bad thing happening through).
If you start your program under GDB or WinDebug, then it’s gonna stop on the int 3 line, in the middle of the bad assertion code (like currently).

The initial idea comes from here.


Ah - very smart, I like that. I’ll maybe add it as a feature of the Process class or something.