How to programmatically break into gdb from gcc C++ source
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There is a way to attach the debugger process explicitly (I've seen it done but have no idea how to do it).
If you're starting from the debugger, then you can signal() your own process with SIGINT to interrupt it and return control to the debugger, effectively a breakpoint. That won't work very well if you're doing signal-handling though. See the signal manpage for more.
Just a note on this. I'm using ddd, and I find that after the SIGINT, I have to use 'stepi' 4 times (ie step 4 instructions), and then 'step' once (i.e step to next source line). This gets ddd synchronised with the source line.
Otherwise I get "Cannot find bounds of current function" errors in ddd.
Would be nice if there was a way to get ddd to go straight to the offending source line on the SIGINT, but I can live with this.