Today I was experiencing a SIGSEGV while using mutt, and running in gdb was useless as there are were no debug symbols in the binary.
This is standard practice for Debian packages, so if you want to provide a backtrace for a bug report you will need to recompile the package. Here I demonstrate a quick and dirty way to do that. This method is not recommended if you want to make changes to the code as well.
So first check if the package has a debug package for it. More and more
libraries are providing these packages to make debugging easier. If you
are experiencing a problem with a library just installing the associated
package should provide all the debugging symbols. (Marc Haber wrote
to automatically install any
-dbg packages of dependencies if they exist.
grep-dctrl packages. This should help fill in
gaps in the backtrace if possible).
If there is no debug package then you will have to recompile. First get the necessary dependencies (I will use mutt as my example).
apt-get build-dep mutt
Then get the source of the package
apt-get source mutt
Then enter the source directory
Most (all?) packages that use C code should look at the environment variable
DEB_BUILD_OPTIONS to see whether to include debug symbols. The other use
is to turn off optimisations. This can be useful, so try it, but it is possible
that turning off optimistations solves the problem, in which case you should
Now recompile the package (requires dpkg-dev and fakeroot),
dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc -us
This should complete normally, and leav a .deb in the parent directory, so then (as root):
dpkg -i ../mutt_1.5.13-1_i386.deb
This will install the new package. Now try running under gdb again, and the debug symbols should be present.