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Deterministic Replay Debugging of Embedded Real-Time Systems using Standard Components



Publication Type:

Licentiate Thesis


Mälardalen University Press


Men and women make mistakes. They always have and they always will. Naturally, software engineers are no exception to this rule. When software engineers make their mistakes, these manifest in the form of buggy software. Luckily, men and women often strive to correct the mistakes they make. In software engineering, this process is called debugging.In simple sequential software, debugging is fairly easy. However, in the realm of embedded real-time software, debugging is made significantly harder by factors such as dependency of an external context, pseudoparallelism or true parallelism, and other real-time properties. These factors lead to problems with execution behavior reproducibility. When a failure is discovered, we need to be able to reproduce this failure in order to examine what went wrong. If the erroneous behavior cannot be reproduced, we will not be able to examine the process leading to the failure.Previous work has proposed the use of execution replay debugging in order to solve this problem. Execution replay is a general term for a set of methods to record system behavior during execution and to use these recordings in order to reproduce this behavior during debugging sessions. This way, we may achieve a reproducable execution behavior for non-deterministic systems. Historically, many replay methods have been highly platform-dependent, craving specialized hardware, operating system or compilers.In this thesis, we describe a replay method, called Deterministic Replay, able to run on top of standard components. We also describe the Time Machine, which is the implementation of the Deterministic Replay method. Further, we give an in-depth description of the method for pinpointing interrupts used by the Time Machine. In addition, we present results from two case studies where the Deterministic Replay method was incorporated into two full-scale industrial real-time systems. These results show that our method of debugging multi-tasking real-time systems not only is applicable in industrial applications, but also that it can be introduced with little effort and small costs regarding application performance.


author = {Daniel Sundmark},
title = {Deterministic Replay Debugging of Embedded Real-Time Systems using Standard Components},
number = {24},
month = {March},
year = {2004},
publisher = {M{\"a}lardalen University Press},
url = {}