Martin Pitt martin.pitt at
Thu Oct 5 18:01:59 BST 2006

Hi Ubuntu developers,

When introducing automatic crash reporting in Edgy [1] a while ago, I
quickly described 'apport-retrace', a developer tool to post-process
an apport crash report. However, until now it did not make much of a
difference unless the developer manually installed -dbg packages.

Now that we automatically build debug symbol packages (.ddebs) for all
packages and publish them [2], apport-retrace grew a new inconspicuous
option '-d' which causes it to look for available .ddebs, download and
install them into a temporary directory, tell gdb to look for debug
symbols there and then re-generate the stack traces with as many
symbols as it can.

For this to work, you need to have the ddeb archive in your apt
sources (/etc/apt/sources.list):

  deb edgy main

Then a simple

  apport-retrace -d foo.crash

will try to transform unintelligible gibberish to nicely verbose stack
traces, provided that the necessary ddebs are available (which is not
yet the case for the majority of packages, though).

Since this is meant to work as a normal user [3], it cannot use
/var/cache/apt/archives to locally cache the ddebs. If you need to
care for bandwidth, you can use the -C option to specify a directory
to a permanent ddeb cache (e. g. I use ~/.ddeb and told my backup
system to ignore this directory). If you do not use -C, the downloaded
ddebs are discarded.

For details, please see the apport-retrace(1) manpage.

I appreciate comments, suggestions, code contributions, and bug

Thanks for your interest,


[3] The most important reason is that it should be possible to do that
    in the data center, too, and eventually it should happen

Martin Pitt
Ubuntu Developer
Debian Developer

In a world without walls and fences, who needs Windows and Gates?
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