Ubuntu – How to resolve “Segmentation fault (core dumped)”


I am using Ubuntu 14.04.

After installing some applications I faced a segmentation fault (core dumped) error.

What does it mean ? How can I resolve this issue ?

For example:

After installing chrome-stable, when I launch it from terminal I experience this error.

Best Answer

What does it mean?

See AU: What is a segmentation fault? post and also this post which have some examples how reproduce it, SO: What is segmentation fault?.

The simplest description I can come with (may be not the perfect):

The program tried to access a memory area out side its own section. Operating system blocks it.

Some cases: Reading value with uninitialized pointer, Going out of range in an array, Function call (when backward compatibility not maintained), ...

However, it is not always easy find the cause with large programs or those which relay on other project lib's. And most of the cases end up with a bug report, either for target program or one of its dependencies (either upstream project or downstream distribution package).

How can I resolve this issue?

  • Fire a bug report

    If you didn't make any custom configuration/setup and you all updates installed. fire a bug report, see How do I report a bug?

    If open source supported by Ubuntu use ubuntu-bug (apport-bug). For 3rd party closed source, check their help pages how to report bugs and collect related data.

  • Take initiative to debug

    If you you have even a little programming background, it is recommended that you try your best to resolve it yourself. There many bug reports out there inactive for years. At least, you may be able to collect enough debug data that help resolve the issue when reporting it.

    That's means that you are breaking the user abstraction level and opening the black box! (FLOSS actually has transparent box).

Some Useful Tools for Debugging

Some ... I mean there are many other useful tools out there that you gonna find when you dig in more.

  1. apport-bug logs / core dump / backtrace

    If you don't have an error message before segmentation fault. Run it with --save option and look for back-trace log:

    apport-bug program-cmd --save bug-report_output.txt
  2. gdb backtrace / debuging source code

    If it didn't work, use gdb:

    $ gdb program-cmd
    (gdb) run
    (gdb) backtrace

    If you get any error message, check the web, launchpad and in upstream project bug tracker if there any similar cases.

    For some advanced users or who are following a c/c++ learning path, they could download the corresponding -dbg symbols packages. Then you can use gdb to trace program flow through the source and get the exact function/instruction that raise the runtime error.

    For Ubuntu(Debian) based distributions, source code of a package can be downloaded using:

    apt-get source <package-name>
  3. strace system call tracing

    Another tool that may help is strace, I like it. It's really a powerful tool.

    It presents itself:

    In the simplest case strace runs the specified command until it exits. It intercepts and records the system calls which are called by a process and the signals which are received by a process. The name of each system call, its arguments and its return value are printed on standard error or to the file specified with the -o option.

    strace is a useful diagnostic, instructional, and debugging tool. System administrators, diagnosticians and trouble-shooters will find it invaluable for solving problems with programs for which the source is not readily available since they do not need to be recompiled in order to trace them. Students, hackers and the overly-curious will find that a great deal can be learned about a system and its system calls by tracing even ordinary programs. And programmers will find that since system calls and signals are events that happen at the user/kernel interface, a close examination of this boundary is very useful for bug isolation, sanity checking and attempting to capture race conditions.

    Source: man strace

  4. ltrace dynamic library call tracing

    ltrace is a program that simply runs the specified command until it exits. It intercepts and records the dynamic library calls which are called by the executed process and the signals which are received by that process. It can also intercept and print the system calls exe‐ cuted by the program.

    Its use is very similar to strace(1).

    Source: man ltrace

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