What does gdb 'x' command do?


I am reading a book about hacking and it has a chapter about assembly.

Following is my tiny program written in C.

#include <stdio.h>

int main(int argc, char const *argv[])
    int i;

    for (i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
        puts("Hello World!");

    return 0;

And the following is gdb test:

(gdb) break main
Breakpoint 1 at 0x40050f: file main.c, line 7.
(gdb) run
Breakpoint 1, main (argc=1, argv=0x7fffffffe708) at main.c:7
7       for (i = 0; i < 10; i++) {
(gdb) disassemble main
Dump of assembler code for function main:
   0x0000000000400500 <+0>: push   rbp
   0x0000000000400501 <+1>: mov    rbp,rsp
   0x0000000000400504 <+4>: sub    rsp,0x20
   0x0000000000400508 <+8>: mov    DWORD PTR [rbp-0x14],edi
   0x000000000040050b <+11>:    mov    QWORD PTR [rbp-0x20],rsi
=> 0x000000000040050f <+15>:    mov    DWORD PTR [rbp-0x4],0x0
   0x0000000000400516 <+22>:    jmp    0x400526 <main+38>
   0x0000000000400518 <+24>:    mov    edi,0x4005c4
   0x000000000040051d <+29>:    call   0x4003e0 <puts@plt>
   0x0000000000400522 <+34>:    add    DWORD PTR [rbp-0x4],0x1
   0x0000000000400526 <+38>:    cmp    DWORD PTR [rbp-0x4],0x9
   0x000000000040052a <+42>:    jle    0x400518 <main+24>
   0x000000000040052c <+44>:    mov    eax,0x0
---Type <return> to continue, or q <return> to quit---
   0x0000000000400531 <+49>:    leave  
   0x0000000000400532 <+50>:    ret    
End of assembler dump.

The following part is the things that I don't understand. Please note that $rip is the "instruction pointer" and points to 0x000000000040050f <+15>

(gdb) x/x $rip
0x40050f <main+15>: 0x00fc45c7
(gdb) x/12x $rip
0x40050f <main+15>: 0x00fc45c7  0xeb000000  0x05c4bf0e  0xbee80040
0x40051f <main+31>: 0x83fffffe  0x8301fc45  0x7e09fc7d  0x0000b8ec
0x40052f <main+47>: 0xc3c90000  0x1f0f2e66  0x00000084  0x1f0f0000
(gdb) x/8xb $rip
0x40050f <main+15>: 0xc7    0x45    0xfc    0x00    0x00    0x00    0x00    0xeb
(gdb) x/8xh $rip
0x40050f <main+15>: 0x45c7  0x00fc  0x0000  0xeb00  0xbf0e  0x05c4  0x0040  0xbee8
(gdb) x/8xw $rip
0x40050f <main+15>: 0x00fc45c7  0xeb000000  0x05c4bf0e  0xbee80040
0x40051f <main+31>: 0x83fffffe  0x8301fc45  0x7e09fc7d  0x0000b8ec

First command x/x $rip outputs 0x40050f <main+15>: 0x00fc45c7.

Is it the instruction at 0x40050f? Is 0x00fc45c7 same as mov DWORD PTR [rbp-0x4],0x0 (assembled instruction at 0x40050f)?

Secondly, if it is the instruction, what are those hex numbers from the output of commands x/12x $rip, x/8xw $rip, x/8xh $rip?

asked on Stack Overflow Dec 13, 2013 by khajvah • edited Dec 13, 2013 by Igor Skochinsky

2 Answers


As to (1), you got that correct.

As to (2), the x command has up to 3 specifiers: how many objects to print; in which format; and what object size. In all your examples you choose to print as hex (x). As to the first specifier, you ask to print 12, 8, 8 objects.

As to the last specifier in your cases:
x/12x has none, so gdb defaults to assuming you want 4-byte chunks (which GDB calls "words", x86 calls "double words"). Generally, I'd always specify what exactly you want as opposed to falling back on default settings.

x/8xw does the same, for 8 objects, as you explicitly requested dwords now.

(The x command defaults to the last size you used, but the initial default for that on startup is w words)

x/8xh requests half-word sized chunks of 2 bytes, so objects printed in 2 byte chunks. (Half-word relative to GDB's standard 32-bit word size; x86 calls this a "word").

In case you wonder why the concatenation of two neighboring values does not equal what was reported when you printed in dwords, this is because the x86 is a little-endian architecture. What that means is detailed quite well in Erickson's book again - if you look a few pages ahead, he does some calculations you might find helpful. In a nutshell, if you recombine them (2,1) (4,3), ..., you'll see they match.

answered on Stack Overflow Dec 13, 2013 by gnometorule • edited Mar 11, 2020 by Peter Cordes
(gdb) help x
Examine memory: x/FMT ADDRESS.
ADDRESS is an expression for the memory address to examine.
FMT is a repeat count followed by a format letter and a size letter.
Format letters are o(octal), x(hex), d(decimal), u(unsigned decimal),
  t(binary), f(float), a(address), i(instruction), c(char) and s(string),
  T(OSType), A(floating point values in hex).
Size letters are b(byte), h(halfword), w(word), g(giant, 8 bytes).
The specified number of objects of the specified size are printed
according to the format.

Defaults for format and size letters are those previously used.
Default count is 1.  Default address is following last thing printed
with this command or "print".
answered on Stack Overflow Dec 13, 2013 by Paul Beusterien

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