Breaking Into the Debugger

User-mode and kernel-mode code use different routines to break into the debugger.

User-Mode Break Routines

A break routine causes an exception to occur in the current process, so that the calling thread can signal the debugger associated with the calling process.

To break into a debugger from a user-mode program, use the DebugBreak routine. For complete documentation of this routine, see the Microsoft Windows SDK.

When a user-mode program calls DebugBreak, the following possible actions will occur:

  1. If a user-mode debugger is attached, the program will break into the debugger. This means that the program will pause and the debugger will become active.

  2. If no user-mode debugger is attached, but kernel-mode debugging was enabled at boot time, the entire computer will break into the kernel debugger. If no kernel debugger is attached, the computer will freeze and await a kernel debugger.

  3. If no user-mode debugger is attached, and kernel-mode debugging is not enabled, the program will terminate with an unhandled exception, and the post-mortem (just-in-time) debugger will be activated. For more information, see Enabling Postmortem Debugging.

Kernel-Mode Break Routines

When a kernel-mode program breaks into the debugger, the entire operating system freezes until the kernel debugger allows execution to resume. If no kernel debugger is present, this is treated as a bug check.

The DbgBreakPoint routine works in kernel-mode code, but is otherwise similar to the DebugBreak user-mode routine.

DbgBreakPointWithStatus also causes a break, but it additionally sends a 32-bit status code to the debugger.

KdBreakPoint and KdBreakPointWithStatus are identical to DbgBreakPoint and DbgBreakPointWithStatus, respectively, when compiled in the checked build environment. When compiled in the free build environment, they have no effect.

For complete documentation of these routines, as well as the build environment, see the Windows Driver Kit.

Kernel-Mode Conditional Break Routines

Two conditional break routines are available for kernel-mode code. These routines test a logical expression. If the expression is false, execution halts and the debugger becomes active.

The ASSERT macro causes the debugger to display the failed expression and its location in the program. The ASSERTMSG macro is similar, but allows an additional message to be sent to the debugger.

ASSERT and ASSERTMSG are only active when compiled in the checked build environment. When compiled in the free build environment, they have no effect.

For complete documentation of these routines, as well as the build environment, see the Windows Driver Kit.

 

 

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