LLDB Python Reference


The entire LLDB API is available as Python functions through a script bridging interface. This means the LLDB API's can be used directly from python either interactively or to build python apps that provide debugger features.

Additionally, Python can be used as a programmatic interface within the lldb command interpreter (we refer to this for brevity as the embedded interpreter). Of course, in this context it has full access to the LLDB API - with some additional conveniences we will call out in the FAQ.


The LLDB API is contained in a python module named lldb documented here. The documentation is also accessible in an interactive debugger session with the following command:

(lldb) script help(lldb)
    Help on package lldb:

        lldb - The lldb module contains the public APIs for Python binding.



You can also get help using a module class name. The full API that is exposed for that class will be displayed in a man page style window. Below we want to get help on the lldb.SBFrame class:

(lldb) script help(lldb.SBFrame)
    Help on class SBFrame in module lldb:

    class SBFrame(__builtin__.object)
     |  Represents one of the stack frames associated with a thread.
     |  SBThread contains SBFrame(s). For example (from test/lldbutil.py),
     |  def print_stacktrace(thread, string_buffer = False):
     |      '''Prints a simple stack trace of this thread.'''

Or you can get help using any python object, here we use the lldb.process object which is a global variable in the lldb module which represents the currently selected process:

(lldb) script help(lldb.process)
    Help on SBProcess in module lldb object:

    class SBProcess(__builtin__.object)
     |  Represents the process associated with the target program.
     |  SBProcess supports thread iteration. For example (from test/lldbutil.py),
     |  # ==================================================
     |  # Utility functions related to Threads and Processes
     |  # ==================================================

Embedded Python Interpreter

The embedded python interpreter can be accessed in a variety of ways from within LLDB. The easiest way is to use the lldb command script with no arguments at the lldb command prompt:

(lldb) script
Python Interactive Interpreter. To exit, type 'quit()', 'exit()' or Ctrl-D.
>>> 2+3
>>> hex(12345)

This drops you into the embedded python interpreter. When running under the script command, lldb sets some convenience variables that give you quick access to the currently selected entities that characterize the program and debugger state. In each case, if there is no currently selected entity of the appropriate type, the variable's IsValid method will return false. These variables are:

Variable Type Description
lldb.debugger lldb.SBDebugger Contains the debugger object whose script command was invoked. The lldb.SBDebugger object owns the command interpreter and all the targets in your debug session. There will always be a Debugger in the embedded interpreter.
lldb.target lldb.SBTarget Contains the currently selected target - for instance the one made with the file or selected by the target select <target-index> command. The lldb.SBTarget manages one running process, and all the executable and debug files for the process.
lldb.process lldb.SBProcess Contains the process of the currently selected target. The lldb.SBProcess object manages the threads and allows access to memory for the process.
lldb.thread lldb.SBThread Contains the currently selected thread. The lldb.SBThread object manages the stack frames in that thread. A thread is always selected in the command interpreter when a target stops. The thread select <thread-index> command can be used to change the currently selected thread. So as long as you have a stopped process, there will be some selected thread.
lldb.frame lldb.SBFrame Contains the currently selected stack frame. The lldb.SBFrame object manage the stack locals and the register set for that stack. A stack frame is always selected in the command interpreter when a target stops. The frame select <frame-index> command can be used to change the currently selected frame. So as long as you have a stopped process, there will be some selected frame.

While extremely convenient, these variables have a couple caveats that you should be aware of. First of all, they hold the values of the selected objects on entry to the embedded interpreter. They do not update as you use the LLDB API's to change, for example, the currently selected stack frame or thread.

Moreover, they are only defined and meaningful while in the interactive Python interpreter. There is no guarantee on their value in any other situation, hence you should not use them when defining Python formatters, breakpoint scripts and commands (or any other Python extension point that LLDB provides). As a rationale for such behavior, consider that lldb can run in a multithreaded environment, and another thread might call the "script" command, changing the value out from under you.

To get started with these objects and LLDB scripting, please note that almost all of the lldb Python objects are able to briefly describe themselves when you pass them to the Python print function:

(lldb) script
Python Interactive Interpreter. To exit, type 'quit()', 'exit()' or Ctrl-D.
>>> print lldb.debugger
Debugger (instance: "debugger_1", id: 1)
>>> print lldb.target
>>> print lldb.process
SBProcess: pid = 59289, state = stopped, threads = 1, executable = a.out
>>> print lldb.thread
SBThread: tid = 0x1f03
>>> print lldb.frame
frame #0: 0x0000000100000bb6 a.out main + 54 at main.c:16

Running a Python script when a breakpoint gets hit

One very powerful use of the lldb Python API is to have a python script run when a breakpoint gets hit. Adding python scripts to breakpoints provides a way to create complex breakpoint conditions and also allows for smart logging and data gathering.

When your process hits a breakpoint to which you have attached some python code, the code is executed as the body of a function which takes three arguments:

def breakpoint_function_wrapper(frame, bp_loc, dict):
  # Your code goes here

Argument Type Description
frame lldb.SBFrame The current stack frame where the breakpoint got hit. The object will always be valid. This frame argument might not match the currently selected stack frame found in the lldb module global variable lldb.frame.
bp_loc lldb.SBBreakpointLocation The breakpoint location that just got hit. Breakpoints are represented by lldb.SBBreakpoint objects. These breakpoint objects can have one or more locations. These locations are represented by lldb.SBBreakpointLocation objects.
dict dict The python session dictionary as a standard python dictionary object.

Optionally, a Python breakpoint command can return a value. Returning False tells LLDB that you do not want to stop at the breakpoint. Any other return value (including None or leaving out the return statement altogether) is akin to telling LLDB to actually stop at the breakpoint. This can be useful in situations where a breakpoint only needs to stop the process when certain conditions are met, and you do not want to inspect the program state manually at every stop and then continue.

An example will show how simple it is to write some python code and attach it to a breakpoint. The following example will allow you to track the order in which the functions in a given shared library are first executed during one run of your program. This is a simple method to gather an order file which can be used to optimize function placement within a binary for execution locality.

We do this by setting a regular expression breakpoint that will match every function in the shared library. The regular expression '.' will match any string that has at least one character in it, so we will use that. This will result in one lldb.SBBreakpoint object that contains an lldb.SBBreakpointLocation object for each function. As the breakpoint gets hit, we use a counter to track the order in which the function at this particular breakpoint location got hit. Since our code is passed the location that was hit, we can get the name of the function from the location, disable the location so we won't count this function again; then log some info and continue the process.

Note we also have to initialize our counter, which we do with the simple one-line version of the script command.

Here is the code:

(lldb) breakpoint set --func-regex=. --shlib=libfoo.dylib
Breakpoint created: 1: regex = '.', module = libfoo.dylib, locations = 223
(lldb) script counter = 0
(lldb) breakpoint command add --script-type python 1
Enter your Python command(s). Type 'DONE' to end.
> # Increment our counter.  Since we are in a function, this must be a global python variable
> global counter 
> counter += 1
> # Get the name of the function
> name = frame.GetFunctionName()
> # Print the order and the function name
> print '[%i] %s' % (counter, name)
> # Disable the current breakpoint location so it doesn't get hit again
> bp_loc.SetEnabled(False)
> # No need to stop here
> return False

The breakpoint command add command above attaches a python script to breakpoint 1. To remove the breakpoint command:

(lldb) breakpoint command delete 1

Create a new LLDB command using a python function

Python functions can be used to create new LLDB command interpreter commands, which will work like all the natively defined lldb commands. This provides a very flexible and easy way to extend LLDB to meet your debugging requirements.

To write a python function that implements a new LDB command define the function to take four arguments as follows:

def command_function(debugger, command, result, internal_dict):
          # Your code goes here
Optionally, you can also provide a Python docstring, and LLDB will use it when providing help for your command, as in:
def command_function(debugger, command, result, internal_dict):
          """This command takes a lot of options and does many fancy things"""    
          # Your code goes here

Argument Type Description
debugger lldb.SBDebugger The current debugger object.
command python string A python string containing all arguments for your command. If you need to chop up the arguments try using the shlex module's shlex.split(command) to properly extract the arguments.
result lldb.SBCommandReturnObject A return object which encapsulates success/failure information for the command and output text that needs to be printed as a result of the command. The plain Python "print" command also works but text won't go in the result by default (it is useful as a temporary logging facility).
internal_dict python dict object The dictionary for the current embedded script session which contains all variables and functions.

As a convenience, you can treat the result object as a Python file object, and say

print >>result, "my command does lots of cool stuff"
SBCommandReturnObject and SBStream both support this file-like behavior by providing write() and flush() calls at the Python layer.

One other handy convenience when defining lldb command-line commands is the command command script import which will import a module specified by file path - so you don't have to change your PYTHONPATH for temporary scripts. It also has another convenience that if your new script module has a function of the form:

def __lldb_init_module(debugger, internal_dict):
    # Command Initialization code goes here

where debugger and internal_dict are as above, that function will get run when the module is loaded allowing you to add whatever commands you want into the current debugger. Note that this function will only be run when using the LLDB comand command script import, it will not get run if anyone imports your module from another module. If you want to always run code when your module is loaded from LLDB or when loaded via an import statement in python code you can test the lldb.debugger object, since you imported the module at the top of the python ls.py module. This test must be in code that isn't contained inside of any function or class, just like the standard test for __main__ like all python modules usally do. Sample code would look like:

if __name__ == '__main__':
    # Create a new debugger instance in your module if your module 
    # can be run from the command line. When we run a script from
    # the command line, we won't have any debugger object in
    # lldb.debugger, so we can just create it if it will be needed
    lldb.debugger = lldb.SBDebugger.Create()
elif lldb.debugger:
    # Module is being run inside the LLDB interpreter
    lldb.debugger.HandleCommand('command script add -f ls.ls ls')
    print 'The "ls" python command has been installed and is ready for use.'

Now we can create a module called ls.py in the file ~/ls.py that will implement a function that can be used by LLDB's python command code:


import lldb
import commands
import optparse
import shlex

def ls(debugger, command, result, internal_dict):
    print >>result, (commands.getoutput('/bin/ls %s' % command))

# And the initialization code to add your commands 
def __lldb_init_module(debugger, internal_dict):
    debugger.HandleCommand('command script add -f ls.ls ls')
    print 'The "ls" python command has been installed and is ready for use.'

Now we can load the module into LLDB and use it

% lldb
(lldb) command script import ~/ls.py
The "ls" python command has been installed and is ready for use.
(lldb) ls -l /tmp/
total 365848
-rw-r--r--@  1 someuser  wheel         6148 Jan 19 17:27 .DS_Store
-rw-------   1 someuser  wheel         7331 Jan 19 15:37 crash.log

A more interesting template has been created in the source repository that can help you to create lldb command quickly:


A commonly required facility is being able to create a command that does some token substitution, and then runs a different debugger command (usually, it po'es the result of an expression evaluated on its argument). For instance, given the following program:

#import <Foundation/Foundation.h>
ModifyString(NSString* src)
	return [src stringByAppendingString:@"foobar"];

int main()
	NSString* aString = @"Hello world";
	NSString* anotherString = @"Let's be friends";
	return 1;
you may want a pofoo X command, that equates po [ModifyString(X) capitalizedString]. The following debugger interaction shows how to achieve that goal:

(lldb) script
Python Interactive Interpreter. To exit, type 'quit()', 'exit()' or Ctrl-D.
>>> def pofoo_funct(debugger, command, result, internal_dict):
...	cmd = "po [ModifyString(" + command + ") capitalizedString]"
...	lldb.debugger.HandleCommand(cmd)
>>> ^D
(lldb) command script add pofoo -f pofoo_funct
(lldb) pofoo aString
$1 = 0x000000010010aa00 Hello Worldfoobar
(lldb) pofoo anotherString
$2 = 0x000000010010aba0 Let's Be Friendsfoobar

Using the lldb.py module in python

LLDB has all of its core code build into a shared library which gets used by the lldb command line application. On Mac OS X this shared library is a framework: LLDB.framework and on other unix variants the program is a shared library: lldb.so. LLDB also provides an lldb.py module that contains the bindings from LLDB into Python. To use the LLDB.framework to create your own stand-alone python programs, you will need to tell python where to look in order to find this module. This is done by setting the PYTHONPATH environment variable, adding a path to the directory that contains the lldb.py python module. On Mac OS X, this is contained inside the LLDB.framework, so you would do:

For csh and tcsh:

% setenv PYTHONPATH /Developer/Library/PrivateFrameworks/LLDB.framework/Resources/Python

For sh and bash:

% export PYTHONPATH=/Developer/Library/PrivateFrameworks/LLDB.framework/Resources/Python

Alternately, you can append the LLDB Python directory to the sys.path list directly in your Python code before importing the lldb module.

Now your python scripts are ready to import the lldb module. Below is a python script that will launch a program from the current working directory called "a.out", set a breakpoint at "main", and then run and hit the breakpoint, and print the process, thread and frame objects if the process stopped:


import lldb
import os

def disassemble_instructions(insts):
    for i in insts:
        print i

# Set the path to the executable to debug
exe = "./a.out"

# Create a new debugger instance
debugger = lldb.SBDebugger.Create()

# When we step or continue, don't return from the function until the process 
# stops. Otherwise we would have to handle the process events ourselves which, while doable is
#a little tricky.  We do this by setting the async mode to false.
debugger.SetAsync (False)

# Create a target from a file and arch
print "Creating a target for '%s'" % exe

target = debugger.CreateTargetWithFileAndArch (exe, lldb.LLDB_ARCH_DEFAULT)

if target:
    # If the target is valid set a breakpoint at main
    main_bp = target.BreakpointCreateByName ("main", target.GetExecutable().GetFilename());

    print main_bp

    # Launch the process. Since we specified synchronous mode, we won't return
    # from this function until we hit the breakpoint at main
    process = target.LaunchSimple (None, None, os.getcwd())
    # Make sure the launch went ok
    if process:
        # Print some simple process info
        state = process.GetState ()
        print process
        if state == lldb.eStateStopped:
            # Get the first thread
            thread = process.GetThreadAtIndex (0)
            if thread:
                # Print some simple thread info
                print thread
                # Get the first frame
                frame = thread.GetFrameAtIndex (0)
                if frame:
                    # Print some simple frame info
                    print frame
                    function = frame.GetFunction()
                    # See if we have debug info (a function)
                    if function:
                        # We do have a function, print some info for the function
                        print function
                        # Now get all instructions for this function and print them
                        insts = function.GetInstructions(target)
                        disassemble_instructions (insts)
                        # See if we have a symbol in the symbol table for where we stopped
                        symbol = frame.GetSymbol();
                        if symbol:
                            # We do have a symbol, print some info for the symbol
                            print symbol