GDB/GEF Cheatsheet

Quick command reference on one of the most powerful tools for dynamic analysis.

This is a curated collection of GDB/GEF commands which I find incredibly useful for dynamic analysis and reverse engineering. These are mainly personal notes and may be incomplete, but suggestions are welcome! If there's a useful GDB/GEF command you use that's not on this list, do leave a comment or let me know so that I can add it. :)

The Basics


# Describes how to use a command.
help [command]
help info
help breakpoint


Run Program with Loaded File

gdb <filename>

Load Files

file <filename>


start    # Starts program and breaks at beginning.
run      # Runs program normally.
continue # Continue program where you left off.
kill     # Kill process.
quit     # Leave GDB.


shell <cmd>
shell echo Hi


We want to inspect a program in the guts. But how do we stop it where we want?

  • ^C during program execution. (Also throws a SIGINT.)
  • Use start instead of run. Breaks after starting the program.
  • Use breakpoints (break on address).
  • Use watchpoints (break on data).

Step Debugging

Once we've stopped, what do we do? How do we navigate instructions and functions effectively?

Step debugging is one of the core features of GDB, and an invaluable tool for all programmers. Modern IDEs have step debugging functionality built-in to operate seamlessly with code.

# Step Debugging
## Step (into).
## Step over.
## Step (into) one instruction exactly.
## Step over one instruction.
## Step out. Execute until (selected) stack frame returns (past end of function).


Useful for verifying addresses and assembly, even if you use a decompiler.

View instructions at a function or address.

disas <address/function>
disas <start addr>,<end addr>
disas <start addr>,+<offset>

disas main

Enable Intel-flavoured ASM syntax.

set disassembly-flavor intel

View data as instructions.

x/[n]i <addr>
x/20i 0x5555555dddd0


View Registers

Show individual registers.

print [expression]

print $rax
p $rax

# Expressions are evaluated.
p $rbx+$rcx*4

Show all registers.

info registers
info r
registers # (GEF)
reg       # (GEF)

Modify Registers

set $eax = 0xdeadbeef

Watch Registers

See Watchpoints.


Memory is a core component of binaries. Many hidden secrets lurk inside the shadows of memory.

View Memory

x/[n][sz][fmt] <addr>

# n: Number of data to print.
# sz: b(byte), h(halfword), w(word), g(giant, 8 bytes)
# fmt: Format to print data.
# - o(octal), x(hex), d(decimal), u(unsigned decimal),
# - z(hex, zero padded on the left)
# - t(binary), f(float), c(char), s(string)
# - a(address), i(instruction),

# 20 words.
x/20wx 0x7fffffffd000

# 20 bytes.
x/20bx 0x7fffffffd000

# View as string.
x/s 0x7fffffffd000

Modify Memory

set {c-type}<address> = <value>

# For self-compiled sources.
set var i = 10
set {int}0x83040 = 4

# With cast + dereference.
## C++
set *{uint32_t*}0x7fffffffd000 = 0xdeadbeef
## Rust
set *(0x7fffffffd000 as *const u32) = 0xdeadbeef

Search Memory

find <start>, <end>, <data...>
find <start>, +<length>, <data...>

# Find string (including null byte).
find 0x7fffffffd000, 0x7ffffffff000, "Hello world!"

# Find string (excluding null byte).
find 0x7fffffffd000, 0x7ffffffff000, 'H','e','l','l','o'

More options.

find [/sn] ...
# s: b(byte), h(halfword), w(word), g(giant, 8 bytes)
# n: max number of finds

Combine with Memory Mapping to determine available regions.

Watch Memory

See Watchpoints.

View Memory Segments

Useful to determine which areas are readable/writeable/executable.

Requires program to be running beforehand.

info proc mappings
vmmap # (GEF)


View Stack

# View 100 words (hex) at $rsp.
x/100wx $rsp

See also: View Memory.

Stack Frame

info frame

Stack Trace
Show a trace of previous stack frames.



GEF only.


# View all chunks.
heap chunks

# View specific chunks.
heap chunk <addr>

# View state of bins (freed chunks).
heap bins


Breaks when address reaches an instruction.

break *<address>
break <line-number | label> # For self-compiled programs.
break <stuff...> if <expression>

# Address.
break *0x401234
b *0x401234

# Offset from function.
break *main+200

# Line number and expression.
break main.c:6 if i == 5

Further reading:

Breakpoint Control

Sometimes we only want to enable or disable certain breakpoints. These commands come handy then. They also apply to watchpoints.

Get Breakpoint Info

info breakpoints
info b

Control Breakpoints

# Enable/disable all breakpoints.

# Enable/disable specific breakpoints.
enable <breakpoint-id>
disable <breakpoint-id>

# Remove breakpoints.
delete <breakpoint-id>

Skip n Breakpoints

continue <ignore-count>

# Skip 32 breaks.
continue 32

Hit Breakpoint Once

# Enable the breakpoint once.
# The breakpoint will be disabled after first hit.
enable once <breakpoint-id>


Breaks when data changes. More specifically, whenever the value of an expression changes, a break occurs.

This includes:

  • when an address is written to. (watch, awatch)
  • when an address is read from. (rwatch, awatch)
  • when an expression evaluates to a given value. (watch)
watch <expression>

# Break on write.
watch *0x7fffffffd000

# Break on condition.
## Register
watch $rax == 0xdeadbeef
## Memory
### C/C++
watch *{uint32_t*}0x7fffffffd000 == 0xdeadbeef
### Rust
watch *(0x7fffffffd000 as *const u32) == 0xdeadbeef

Watchpoints can be enabled/disabled/deleted like breakpoints, but you can also list them separately.

# Displays table of watchpoints.
info watchpoint
info wat

If hardware watchpoints are supported, then you can also use read watchpoints and access watchpoints.

# Check if hardware watchpoints are supported.
show can-use-hw-watchpoints
# Read watchpoints: break on read.
rwatch *0x7fffffffd000

# Access watchpoints: break on read or write.
awatch *0x7fffffffd000

Further Reading:


Install GEF

# via the install script
## using curl
bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"

## using wget
bash -c "$(wget -O -)"

# or manually
wget -O ~/ -q
echo source ~/ >> ~/.gdbinit

# or alternatively from inside gdb directly
gdb -q
(gdb) pi import urllib.request as u, tempfile as t; g=t.NamedTemporaryFile(suffix=''); open(, 'wb+').write(u.urlopen('').read()); gdb.execute('source %s' %

Further Reading:

Input Non-Printable Characters

I don't recommend using Python 3 to generate strings on-the-fly, as its string/byte-string mechanics are unintuitive. Prefer perl or echo instead.

For example: python -c 'print("\xc0")' prints \xc3\x80 (À) instead of \xc0. Why? Because the Python string "\xc0" is interpreted as U+00C0, which is \xc3\x80 in UTF-8.

assert '\xc0'.encode() == b'\xc3\x80'

Printing bytes in Python is difficult to do concisely.

Directly from GDB: With run

# Runs with 'AAAA\x01\x02\x01\x02' as stdin.
r <<<$(perl -e 'print "A"x4 . "\x01\x02"x2;')

This uses a Bash here-string to feed goodies into input.

Directly from GDB: With Temporary File

Slightly more convoluted than the previous method, but is more portable.

# Prints 'AAAA\x01\x02\x01\x02' to a temporary file.
shell perl -e 'print "A"x4 . "\x01\x02"x2;' >/tmp/input

# Run the program, use the file as stdin.
r </tmp/input

Reset GDB Arguments

set args

This empties args. You can also use this command to set arbitrary arguments. The full command is:

set args [arguments...]

Using pwnlib.gdb.attach

from pwn import *

bash = process('bash')

# Attach the debugger
gdb.attach(bash, '''
set follow-fork-mode child
break execve

# Interact with the process
bash.sendline(b"echo '\x01\x02\x03\x04'")

Further Reading:

Enable ASLR

ASLR is a common mechanism to randomise stack, heap, and library offsets.

ASLR is disabled by default in GDB. To re-enable:

set disable-randomization off

Useful for pwn challenges.

PIE Breakpoints

GEF only.

PIE are binaries where segments (.data, .text) are loaded at random offsets. In GDB, it seems to always be set to offset 0x555…554000.

Not all binaries have PIE enabled. Use checksec to verify.

Use the pie commands (help pie). Pie breakpoints are separate from regular breakpoints.

pie b <addr>    # PIE breakpoint at offset <addr> in code.
pie run         # Run with pie breakpoints enabled.

GEF Context

GEF only.

Summary of registers, stack, trace, code, all in one contained view.


Sometimes you want to step-debug without GEF's massive spew of text covering the screen.

Disable Context

gef config context.enable 0

Enable Context

gef config context.enable 1

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