Supporting GDB In Your Emulator

I am currently writing a Vectrex emulator and wanted some way of debugging any code I wrote for it. I'm new to writing emulators, writing for the Vectrex and also new to the language (Rust) that I'm writing it in. So I need a lot of help :)

It took me a little while to find out what I needed to do so here it is for reference.

First Steps

You need a copy of GDB that supports your target processor. That's not always easy for older CPUs however the excellent sixie did the worked need to support 6809. It can be found here

For GDB to remotely connect to your emulator it needs to support GDB's remote protocol over a TCP/IP socket.

My emulator is written in Rust and I found some code in a PlayStation emulator that did some of the basics. So I used that as a base and added a few more features using sixie's xroar dragon emulator sources for reference.

I still need to implement some more of the protocol, breakpoints in particular but right now I can single step code, look at memory and set registers. Score.


My emulator's GDB server runs on port 6809 (what a surprise!). Once you run GDB connecting is pretty easy using the remote command. In my case:

target remote localhost:6809

Uploading Your Code

You can use restore to upload a binary file. For example

restore asm/out/all.bin binary 0x9900

uploads asm.bin to the address 0x9900. To run it I set the program counter to the entry point for my code, sensibly at the start of the file.

set $pc=0x9900

After that you can g or si or whatever you want


Disassemble doesn't work without source either. Luckily you can use examine memory with the i format modifier. So to disassemble where the PC is pointing to use:

x/i $pc

If you want more than a single line you then use

x/10i $pc

to disassemble 10 instructions


Step doesn't work but Step Instruction does. Just use si instead