Debugging Programs

Solana programs run on-chain, so debugging them in the wild can be challenging. To make debugging programs easier, developers can write unit tests that directly test their program's execution via the Solana runtime, or run a local cluster that will allow RPC clients to interact with their program.

Running unit tests #

Logging #

During program execution both the runtime and the program log status and error messages.

For information about how to log from a program see the language specific documentation:

When running a local cluster the logs are written to stdout as long as they are enabled via the RUST_LOG log mask. From the perspective of program development it is helpful to focus on just the runtime and program logs and not the rest of the cluster logs. To focus in on program specific information the following log mask is recommended:

export RUST_LOG=solana_runtime::system_instruction_processor=trace,solana_runtime::message_processor=info,solana_bpf_loader=debug,solana_rbpf=debug

Log messages coming directly from the program (not the runtime) will be displayed in the form:

Program log: <user defined message>

Error Handling #

The amount of information that can be communicated via a transaction error is limited but there are many points of possible failures. The following are possible failure points and information about what errors to expect and where to get more information:

  • The SBF loader may fail to parse the program, this should not happen since the loader has already finalized the program's account data.
    • InstructionError::InvalidAccountData will be returned as part of the transaction error.
  • The SBF loader may fail to setup the program's execution environment
    • InstructionError::Custom(0x0b9f_0001) will be returned as part of the transaction error. "0x0b9f_0001" is the hexadecimal representation of VirtualMachineCreationFailed.
  • The SBF loader may have detected a fatal error during program executions (things like panics, memory violations, system call errors, etc...)
    • InstructionError::Custom(0x0b9f_0002) will be returned as part of the transaction error. "0x0b9f_0002" is the hexadecimal representation of VirtualMachineFailedToRunProgram.
  • The program itself may return an error
    • InstructionError::Custom(<user defined value>) will be returned. The "user defined value" must not conflict with any of the builtin runtime program errors. Programs typically use enumeration types to define error codes starting at zero so they won't conflict.

In the case of VirtualMachineFailedToRunProgram errors, more information about the specifics of what failed are written to the program's execution logs.

For example, an access violation involving the stack will look something like this:

SBF program 4uQeVj5tqViQh7yWWGStvkEG1Zmhx6uasJtWCJziofM failed: out of bounds memory store (insn #615), addr 0x200001e38/8

Monitoring Compute Budget Consumption #

The program can log the remaining number of compute units it will be allowed before program execution is halted. Programs can use these logs to wrap operations they wish to profile.

See compute budget for more information.

ELF Dump #

The SBF shared object internals can be dumped to a text file to gain more insight into a program's composition and what it may be doing at runtime.

Instruction Tracing #

During execution the runtime SBF interpreter can be configured to log a trace message for each SBF instruction executed. This can be very helpful for things like pin-pointing the runtime context leading up to a memory access violation.

The trace logs together with the ELF dump can provide a lot of insight (though the traces produce a lot of information).

To turn on SBF interpreter trace messages in a local cluster configure the solana_rbpf level in RUST_LOG to trace. For example:

export RUST_LOG=solana_rbpf=trace

Source level debugging #

Source level debugging of onchain programs written in Rust or C can be done using the program run subcommand of solana-ledger-tool, and lldb, distributed with Solana Rust and Clang compiler binary package platform-tools.

The solana-ledger-tool program run subcommand loads a compiled on-chain program, executes it in RBPF virtual machine and runs a gdb server that accepts incoming connections from LLDB or GDB. Once lldb is connected to solana-ledger-tool gdbserver, it can control execution of an on-chain program. Run solana-ledger-tool program run --help for an example of specifying input data for parameters of the program entrypoint function.

To compile a program for debugging use cargo-build-sbf build utility with the command line option --debug. The utility will generate two loadable files, one a usual loadable module with the extension .so, and another the same loadable module but containing Dwarf debug information, a file with extension .debug.

To execute a program in debugger, run solana-ledger-tool program run with -e debugger command line option. For example, a crate named 'helloworld' is compiled and an executable program is built in target/deploy directory. There should be three files in that directory

  • helloworld-keypair.json -- a keypair for deploying the program,
  • helloworld.debug -- a binary file containing debug information,
  • -- an executable file loadable into the virtual machine. The command line for running solana-ledger-tool would be something like this
solana-ledger-tool program run -l test-ledger -e debugger target/deploy/

Note that solana-ledger-tool always loads a ledger database. Most on-chain programs interact with a ledger in some manner. Even if for debugging purpose a ledger is not needed, it has to be provided to solana-ledger-tool. A minimal ledger database can be created by running solana-test-validator, which creates a ledger in test-ledger subdirectory.

In debugger mode solana-ledger-tool program run loads an .so file and starts listening for an incoming connection from a debugger

Waiting for a Debugger connection on ""...

To connect to solana-ledger-tool and execute the program, run lldb. For debugging rust programs it may be beneficial to run solana-lldb wrapper to lldb, i.e. at a new shell prompt (other than the one used to start solana-ledger-tool) run the command:


This script is installed in platform-tools path. If that path is not added to PATH environment variable, it may be necessary to specify the full path, e.g.


After starting the debugger, load the .debug file by entering the following command at the debugger prompt

(lldb) file target/deploy/helloworld.debug

If the debugger finds the file, it will print something like this

Current executable set to '/path/helloworld.debug' (bpf).

Now, connect to the gdb server that solana-ledger-tool implements, and debug the program as usual. Enter the following command at lldb prompt

(lldb) gdb-remote

If the debugger and the gdb server establish a connection, the execution of the program will be stopped at the entrypoint function, and lldb should print several lines of the source code around the entrypoint function signature. From this point on, normal lldb commands can be used to control execution of the program being debugged.

Debugging in an IDE #

To debug onchain programs in Visual Studio IDE, install the CodeLLDB extension. Open CodeLLDB Extension Settings. In Advanced settings change the value of Lldb: Library field to the path of (or liblldb.dylib on macOS). For example on Linux a possible path to Solana customized lldb can be /home/<user>/.cache/solana/v1.33/platform-tools/llvm/lib/ where <user> is your Linux system username. This can also be added directly to ~/.config/Code/User/settings.json file, e.g.

  "lldb.library": "/home/<user>/.cache/solana/v1.35/platform-tools/llvm/lib/"

In .vscode subdirectory of your on-chain project, create two files

First file is tasks.json with the following content

  "version": "2.0.0",
  "tasks": [
      "label": "build",
      "type": "shell",
      "command": "cargo build-sbf --debug",
      "problemMatcher": [],
      "group": {
        "kind": "build",
        "isDefault": true
      "label": "solana-debugger",
      "type": "shell",
      "command": "solana-ledger-tool program run -l test-ledger -e debugger ${workspaceFolder}/target/deploy/"

The first task is to build the on-chain program using cargo-build-sbf utility. The second task is to run solana-ledger-tool program run in debugger mode.

Another file is launch.json with the following content

  "version": "0.2.0",
  "configurations": [
      "type": "lldb",
      "request": "custom",
      "name": "Debug",
      "targetCreateCommands": [
        "target create ${workspaceFolder}/target/deploy/helloworld.debug"
      "processCreateCommands": ["gdb-remote"]

This file specifies how to run debugger and to connect it to the gdb server implemented by solana-ledger-tool.

To start debugging a program, first build it by running the build task. The next step is to run solana-debugger task. The tasks specified in tasks.json file are started from Terminal >> Run Task... menu of VSCode. When solana-ledger-tool is running and listening from incoming connections, it's time to start the debugger. Launch it from VSCode Run and Debug menu. If everything is set up correctly, VSCode will start a debugging session and the program execution should stop on the entrance into the entrypoint function.