Getting a Local Kernel Debugger Running

January 11, 2015

There is a steep learning curve when getting familiar with Windows Internals. As a first step, it is a good idea to get a local kernel debugger working on your machine. This will allow you to follow along with whatever learning materials are at hand (e.g. Windows Internals). Here’s a minimal path to get windbg.exe (pronounced “Wind Bag”) up and running:

  1. Install the latest Debugging Tools for Windows
  2. Navigate to the installation directory, e.g. C:\Program Files\Debugging Tools for Windows (x64), in Explorer.
  3. Right click on windbg.exe and click Run as Administrator
  4. Create a folder for local symbols, e.g. C:\LocalSymbols
  5. With windbg.exe open, click File > Symbol File Path
  6. In Symbol File Path, SRV*C:\LocalSymbols*
  7. Click File > Kernel Debug
  8. Select the Local tab, press OK

If all is well, you should be good to go. Try, e.g., to print the interrupt descriptor table (IDT) with the command !idt

You should get output like:

lkd> !idt

Dumping IDT: fffff80000b95080

00: fffff80002e80940 nt!KiDivideErrorFault
01: fffff80002e80a40 nt!KiDebugTrapOrFault
02: fffff80002e80c00 nt!KiNmiInterrupt Stack = 0xFFFFF80000BA7000
03: fffff80002e80f80 nt!KiBreakpointTrap
04: fffff80002e81080 nt!KiOverflowTrap
05: fffff80002e81180 nt!KiBoundFault
06: fffff80002e81280 nt!KiInvalidOpcodeFault
07: fffff80002e814c0 nt!KiNpxNotAvailableFault
08: fffff80002e81580 nt!KiDoubleFaultAbort Stack = 0xFFFFF80000BA5000
09: fffff80002e81640 nt!KiNpxSegmentOverrunAbort
0a: fffff80002e81700 nt!KiInvalidTssFault
0b: fffff80002e817c0 nt!KiSegmentNotPresentFault
0c: fffff80002e81900 nt!KiStackFault
0d: fffff80002e81a40 nt!KiGeneralProtectionFault
0e: fffff80002e81b80 nt!KiPageFault
10: fffff80002e81f40 nt!KiFloatingErrorFault
11: fffff80002e820c0 nt!KiAlignmentFault
12: fffff80002e821c0 nt!KiMcheckAbort Stack = 0xFFFFF80000BA9000
13: fffff80002e82540 nt!KiXmmException
1f: fffff80002e767d0 nt!KiApcInterrupt
2c: fffff80002e82700 nt!KiRaiseAssertion
2d: fffff80002e82800 nt!KiDebugServiceTrap
2f: fffff80002ece950 nt!KiDpcInterrupt