Extending GEF

GEF intends to provide a battery-included, quickly installable and crazy fast debugging environment sitting on top of GDB.

But it most importantly provides all the primitives required to allow hackers to quickly create their own commands. This page intends to summarize how to create advanced GDB commands in moments using GEF as a library.

A dedicated repository was born to host external scripts. This repo is open to all for contributions, no restrictions and the most valuable ones will be integrated into gef.py.

Quick start

Here is the most basic skeleton for creating a new GEF command named newcmd:

class NewCommand(GenericCommand):
    """Dummy new command."""
    _cmdline_ = "newcmd"
    _syntax_  = "{:s}".format(_cmdline_)

    @only_if_gdb_running         # not required, ensures that the debug session is started
    def do_invoke(self, argv):
        # do anything allowed by gef, for example show the current running
        # architecture as Python object:
        print(" = {}".format(current_arch) )
        # or showing the current $pc
        print("pc = {:#x}".format(current_arch.pc))


Yes, that's it!

Loading it in GEF is as easy as

gef➤  source /path/to/newcmd.py
[+] Loading 'NewCommand'

We can call it:

Detailed explanation

Our new command must be a class that inherits from GEF's GenericCommand. The only requirements are:

  • a _cmdline_ attribute (the command to type on the GDB prompt).
  • a _syntax_ attribute, which GEF will use to auto-generate the help menu.
  • a method do_invoke(self, args) which will be executed when the command is invoked. args is a list of the command line args provided when invoked.

We make GEF aware of this new command by registering it in the __main__ section of the script, by invoking the global function register_external_command().

Now you have a new GEF command which you can load, either from cli:

gef➤  source /path/to/newcmd.py

or add to your ~/.gdbinit:

$ echo source /path/to/newcmd.py >> ~/.gdbinit


Some of the most important parts of the API for creating new commands are mentioned (but not limited to) below. To see the full help of a function, open GDB and GEF, and use the embedded Python interpreter's help command. For example:

gef➤  pi help(Architecture)

or even from outside GDB:

$ gdb -q -ex 'pi help(hexdump)' -ex quit



Procedure to add the new GEF command


Global variable associated with the architecture of the currently debugged process. The variable is an instance of the Architecture class (see below).

read_memory(addr, length=0x10)

Returns a length long byte array with a copy of the process memory read from addr.

write_memory(addr, buffer, length=0x10)

Writes buffer to memory at address addr.


Reads the size of an integer from addr, and unpacks it correctly (based on the current arch's endianness)


Return a NULL-terminated array of bytes, from addr.


Returns the value of given register.


Returns an array of Section objects (see below) corresponding to the current memory layout of the process.

gef_disassemble(addr, nb_insn, from_top=False)

Disassemble nb_insn instructions after addr. If from_top is False (default), it will also disassemble the nb_insn instructions before addr. Return an iterator of Instruction objects (see below).


Logging functions


Takes a callback function FUNC as parameter: add/remove a call to FUNC when GDB continues execution.


Takes a callback function FUNC as parameter: add/remove a call to FUNC when GDB stops execution (breakpoints, watchpoints, interrupt, signal, etc.).


Takes a callback function FUNC as parameter: add/remove a call to FUNC when GDB loads a new binary.


Takes a callback function FUNC as parameter: add/remove a call to FUNC when GDB exits an inferior.



Modifies a function to only execute if a GDB session is running. A GDB session is running if:

  • a PID exists for the targeted binary
  • GDB is running on a coredump of a binary

Checks if the current GDB session is local i.e. not debugging using GDB remote.

@only_if_gdb_version_higher_than( (MAJOR, MINOR) )

Checks if the GDB version is higher or equal to the MAJOR and MINOR provided as arguments (both as Integers). This is required since some commands/API of GDB are only present in the very latest version of GDB.


For exhaustive documentation, run

$ gdb -q -ex 'pi help(<ClassName>)' -ex quit


New GEF commands must inherit GenericCommand, have _cmdline_ and _syntax_ attrivutes, and have a instance method do_invoke(args) defined.

Other than that, new commands can enjoy all the GEF abstract layer representation classes, such as:

  • Instruction : GEF representation of instruction as pure Python objects.
  • Address: GEF representation of memory addresses.
  • Section: GEF representation of process memory sections.
  • Permission: Page permission object.
  • Elf: ELF parsing object.


  • Architecture : Generic metaclass for the architectures supported by GEF.
  • ARM
  • AARCH64
  • X86
  • X86_64
  • PowerPC
  • PowerPC64
  • SPARC64
  • MIPS


  • GlibcArena : Glibc arena class
  • GlibcChunk : Glibc chunk class.