How to remote debug Java application in Eclipse IDE
Remote debugging is not a new concept and many of you are aware of this just for who don’t know what is remote debugging? It’s a way of debugging any process could be Java or C++ running on some other location from your development machine. Since debugging Java application is essential part of Java development and ability to debug your application not only saves time but also increase productivity. Local debugging is the best way to debug Java program in my opinion and should always be preferred over remote debugging as discussed in my post How to debug Java program in Eclipse, but if local debugging is not possible and there is no way to debug your process then remote debugging Java application is the solution. All Major IDE like NetBeans, Eclipse, IntelliJ allows you to remote debug Java program but I mostly use Eclipse for remote debugging Java application because it's free and standard IDE in Investment banks for Java projects. By the this is second article on Eclipse IDE in Javarevisited after sharing Top 30 Eclipse keyboard shortcuts to improve productivity in previous post.
When use Java remote debugging in Eclipse
Many of us work on a Java project which runs on Linux operating system and we do development mostly on Windows using Eclipse IDE. Since I am working in Investment banking and finance domain I have seen use of Linux server for running electronic trading application quite a lot, which makes Java development difficult because you don't have coderunning on your development machine. Some time we managed to run the Java project in Eclipse IDE in windows itself which is essential for development and debugging purpose but many times its not possible due to various reason e.g. your project depends upon some of the platform dependent library or some Linux module whose windows version may not be available or your project is too big to run on windows and its heavily connected to upstream and downstream system and it's almost impossible to create same environment in your windows machine for development. On such situation my approach to work is isolate the work I am doing and test that with the help of mock objects, Threads or by trying to run that module independently but this is also not a desired solution in some cases where you need to debug the Java project at run time to find out some subtle issues, This is the time to use Eclipse for remote debugging Java application.
Eclipse IDE provides us most useful feature called "Remote debugging" by using which you can debug Java application running on remote Linux or Windows Server from your windows machine. believe me this become absolutely necessary in some condition and knowing how to setup remote debugging and working of remote debugging in eclipse can greatly improve your productivity. In this Eclipse tutorial I will try to explain eclipse remote debugging or how to setup remote debugging in eclipse.
Now let's see how we can setup remote debugging in Eclipse:
1) First setup your Java project in Eclipse.
2) Select your project, go to "Run" Menu option and select "Debug Configurations"
Remote debugging with eclipse 1
3) This will open Debug Configuration window select "Remote Java Application" icon on left side, Right click and say "New".
eclipse remote debugging 2
4) After clicking on New, Eclipse will create Remote Java Application configuration for your selected project. Now next step is to setup host and port for remote debugging in Eclipse.
Remote debugging in Eclipse 3
5) Now put the host name and port on which your process is listening for debugger in Linux machine. Check the "Allow termination of remote VM" check box if you would like to close java application running on Linux from eclipse.
6) Now you are all set to remote debug your Java project from Eclipse IDE but before starting to debug make sure your Java process is started with Java remote debug settings and listening on same host and port, otherwise eclipse will not able to connect successfully.
7) To debug just click the "Debug" button in last screen where we have setup host and port.
8) You can also debug by going to "Debug Configurations" selecting your project in "Remote Java Application” and clicking on "DEBUG".
Java remote debug setting and JVM debug options
In order to remote debug a Java application from Eclipse, that application must be started with following JVM debug options:
This will start java application stockTradingGUI into debug mode using Java Debug Wire Protocol (jdwp) protocoland it will listen on port 8001 suspend=y will ensure that that application will not start running until Eclipse connect it on speicified debug port.It also important to note that application must be start before Eclipse tries to connect it other wise Eclipse will throw error "Failed to connect to remote VM. Connection refused" or "Connection refused: connect"
Enjoy remote debugging in Eclipse J
How to fix "Failed to connect to remote VM. Connection refused"
"Failed to connect to remote VM. Connection refused" is the most common error Java programmer face while trying to remote debug Java application, there can be multiple reason why you are getting "Failed to connect to remote VM. Connection refused" error, here are some of the reason this error occurs in Eclipse :
1) Network or Firewall issue
Since Eclipse uses TCP socket connection to connect to remote machine, remote host must be accessible from your network and corresponding remote debug port must be open and ready to accept connection. You can check this by using networking commands in windows and Linux like ping or telnet.
2) Java application not running on remote host
This is probably most common reason of "Failed to connect to remote VM. Connection refused". If Java application is not running there will no one to accept connection. Just restart the Java application in debug mode.
3) Incorrect host and port combination
One of the human error which causes "Failed to connect to remote VM. Connection refused". Some time typo on hostname or port causes Eclipse trying to connect different servers or different port, which is obvious reason you get this error.
4) Missing JVM debug settings
In order to accept remote connection from Eclipse your Java application must be running with correct debug settings based upon your JVM. If you are JVM is not running on debug mode you will get "Failed to connect to remote VM. Connection refused"
Java Remote debugging Tips in Eclipse IDE
Here are few tips which is very useful while remote debugging any Java program into Eclipse IDE, this not only help you to avoid some common errors in Eclipse but also makes remote debugging much easier :
Tip: In JVM DEBUG parameters there is a parameter called "suspend" which takes value as "y" or "n". so if you want to debug the process from start set this parameter as "suspend=y" and your Java application will wait until Eclipse remotely connect to it. Otherwise if you want to run your program and later want eclipse to be connected that set this as "suspend=n" so your java application will run normally and after eclipse remotely connected to it, it will stop onbreakpoints.
Tip: Use start up script to put JVM debug parameter and use a variable e.g. isDebugEnabled and also REMOTE_DEBUG_PORT in the shell script and export this variable when you want to remote debug your Java application. This will be very handy and will require just one time setup work.
Tip: if you get error "Failed to connect to remote VM. Connection refused" or "Connection refused:connect" then there might be two possibility one your java program is not running on remote host and other you are giving incorrect port or host name after verifying these two things if issue still persists then try giving full name of the host.
Tip: You also need to ensure that you run the same code base in eclipse which is deployed in your remote machine so that what you debug and see in eclipse is true and real. you also need to ensure that your code is compile with debug option "-g" so that eclipse can easily gather debug info e.g. information about local variable. by default java only generate line numbers and source file information.with debug option -g your class file size might be more because it would contain some debug information.
Note: Recently I have wrote another article 10 tips on debugging Java Program in eclipse which is a collection of my java debugging tips and explains some advanced java debugging concept like conditional break point, how to debug multi-threaded programs in Java, Step filtering to avoid debugging system classes in Java, logical view to see the content of collection classes like HashMap or ArrayList in Java.