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INFO: Choosing the Debugger That the System Will Spawn

This article was previously published under Q103861
In the Win32 SDK, versions 3.1, 3.5, 3.51, and 4.0, the system can spawn a debugger whenever an applicationfaults. The capability is controlled by the following Registry key onWindows NT:
   HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\              SOFTWARE\             Microsoft\            Windows NT\        CurrentVersion\               AeDebug				
This key contains the following entries:
   Auto   Debugger				
These entries are also available on Windows 95. However, on Windows 95,they are contained in the Win.ini file instead of the registry. Thesection [aedebug] has entries that correspond to the registry.

If the value of Auto is set to "0" (zero), then the system willgenerate a pop-up window, and if the user chooses Cancel, spawn thedebugger that is specified in the Debugger value. If the value of Autois set to "1", then the system will automatically spawn the debuggerthat is specified in the Debugger value.

After installing Windows NT, the Debugger value is set to
   DRWTSN32 -p %ld -e %ld -g				
and the Auto value is set to 1. If the Win32 SDK is installed, then theDebugger value is changed to
   <MSTOOLS>\BIN\WINDBG -p %ld -e %ld				
and the Auto value is set to 0.

Microsoft Visual C++ version 5.0 makes the following entry for theDebugger value:
   C:\Program Files\DevStudio\SharedIDE\BIN\msdev.exe -p %ld -e %ld				
The DRWTSN32 debugger is a post-mortem debugger similar in functionality tothe Windows 3.1 Dr. Watson program. DRWTSN32 generates a log filecontaining fault information about the offending application. The followingdata is generated in the Drwtsn32.log file:
  • Exception information (exception number and name).
  • System information (machine name, user name, OS version, and so forth.
  • Task list.
  • State dump for each thread (register dump, disassembly, stack walk, symbol table).
A record of each application error is recorded in the application eventlog. The application error data for each crash is stored in a log filenamed Drwtsn32.log, which by default is placed in your Windows directory.

NOTE: You can install DRWTSN32 correctly into the registry by running
DRWTSN32 -i				
from a command prompt (or from the Start menu, click Run).

Article ID: 103861 - Last Review: 07/11/2005 20:00:00 - Revision: 1.2

  • Microsoft Platform Software Development Kit-January 2000 Edition
  • kbinfo KB103861