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With Mavericks Update, Apple has replaced GDB by LLDB, which is a part of the LLVM suit.

It might have been a good move on Apple’s side as it includes tons of new features and is also catching up with gdb on the run-time performance part (you can read more about it here). But I needed GCC and GDB for one of my projects and so here goes a post about it.


You can get GCC by installing Command-line-tools package in OS X.

If you hit gcc in terminal it will prompt you for installing command line tool package, you can also fetch it directly from Apple dev download section

But that comes with LLDB as the debugger, unlike previous releases of OS X (till Mountain Lion) which included GDB too.

You can install GDB using Homebrew or Macports (see below for instructions), but here I’ll be covering up how to install it from source in detail.


    brew install homebrew/dupes/gdb


    sudo port install gdb

and sudo ggdb will launch gdb

From Source

Fetch the source

Fetch the gdb source from the gnu ftp I used version 7.6.1 (latest at the time of writting this post).

Compile it

While building release after 7.0 on Mac you might get errors which should have been “warning: format not a string literal and no format arguments” warnings. To avoid this we will configure along with --disable-intl flag.

    ./configure --disable-intl

Furthur we will modify the generated Makefile to supress the errors

Change line 383 (in version 7.6.1) in Makefile to

    CFLAGS = -g -O2 -Wno-string-plus-int

Compile the source


and Install it

    sudo make install

Setting it up

Now if you try to debug using gdb you would get the following error

    Unable to find Mach task port for process-id 28885: (os/kern) failure (0x5).
     (please check gdb is codesigned - see taskgated(8))

This is because to run a process under a debugger, debugger needs to have complete access over the process, which Darwin kernel will not allow by default, because it can be used in malicious ways.

So to allow gdb to control another process we need to sign it with any system-trusted code signing authority.

For that you need to generate a certificate.

Generate Certificate for signing

Launch Keychain Access application : Launchpad > Others > Keychain Access

Keychain Access Window

Open menu Keychain Access > Certificate Assistant > Create a Certificate…

Keychain Access Window

Choose some name for the certificate (gdbc here),

Identity Type: Self Signed Root

Certificate Type: Code Signing

and check the Let me override defaults checkbox.

Keep continuing with default values untill you get the dialog box where you need to specify the location for the certificate, set the Keychain to System

Keychain Access Window

After the certificate is created you can see it in under System keychains.

Select Get Info from the context menu and in the dialoge box that appears expand Trust and set Code Signing to Always Trust.

Now quit Keychain Access application and restart taskgated process by killing it

    killall taskgated

Now to sign the certificate you can run

    codesign -fs gdbc /usr/local/bin/gdb

but it will ask for an administrative username and it’s password. You need to enable root user to do so.

Enable Root user

  • From the Apple menu choose System Preferences….
  • From System Preferences window choose Users & Groups.

Keychain Access Window

  • Click the lock and authenticate as an administrator account.
  • Click Login Options….
  • Click the Join… button at the bottom right.
  • Click the Open Directory Utility… button.

Keychain Access Window

  • Click the lock in the Directory Utility window and authenticate as an administrator account.
  • Choose Enable Root User from the Edit menu.

Keychain Access Window

  • Enter the root password you wish to use in both the Password and Verify fields, then click OK.

The End

Now just run the following command to sign the certificate, enter username as root and it’s password and you are done.

    codesign -fs gdbc /usr/local/bin/gdb

Live long and prosper