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I'm preparing for an interview and came across this question in a forum:

If your browser crashes, how would you debug it only using the command line?

For simplicity, let's assume it's a Firefox browser on a *nix environment. Any suggestions would be helpful.

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There don't appear to be any interesting arguments that aid in verbosity. The best reference I can find is that Firefox uses the Breakpad reporting system, which dumps crash ID's to file. – new123456 Sep 14 '11 at 12:33
up vote 1 down vote accepted

When they say crashed browser are we talking about an actual bug in firefox or a plugin that results in a crash?

Debugging is possible, but it assumes a developer experience.

Use ulimit -c to make sure your system will actually create a core dump with the application crashes. Then use GDB (*nix) to debug. You will probably want to download the source code for the browser. You may want to recompile your browser with the debug symbols.

Unless the question is for a developer position though I doubt you would be expected to be able to do this.

Are you sure they are asking how to debug a crashed browser, or are they talking about finding a network issue which should be very easy to diagnose from a command line. In that case you would be using something like ping, nslookup, traceroute, and so on.


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On Linux, for general purpose debugging, especially for an application that you don't have the source for, try strace and or ltrace. There's a good basic introduction to strace here. There are similar programs for windows.

strace firefox
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