Plain text bug report navigation

Android bug reports contain a massive amount of information about what’s happening on your device. They’re big, relatively poorly documented, and not easy to navigate. This post has my notes on digging into a bug report in a text editor. A lot of the information is generic to bug reports, but the copy/pastable bits are specific to vim.

Why plain text?

I’ve seen some good web UIs for looking at bug reports, but if you’re good with your text editor, there are benefits:

This guide is focused on some of the specifics of navigating the massive bugreport text file, but for reference on how to identify different events, the Reading Bug Reports doc is very useful.

Zip archive format

Typically bug reports are zip archives. Within that there’s a bugreport-<device code name>-<android build>.txt file. That’s where all of the interesting stuff is.

In vim, you can open the zip file, put your cursor on the .txt file and press enter, and it’ll open that file.

Logcat columns

Date  Time         UID    PID   TID  Lvl TAG
08-14 15:27:31.099 10161  3098  3098 W   ActivityThread: Failed to ...

Get currently-running PIDs for package

You can find the package under DUMP OF SERVICE CRITICAL cpuinfo section, and it’ll list all currently-running PIDs.

A lot of times you want info about crashed processes and when things started or stopped, so you’ll want to look for the am_proc_start and am_proc_died tags. If you’re curious what those numbers in there mean, THE CODE IS THE DOCUMENTATION.

For long-running processes, Event Log may not have the am_proc_start for a given PID.

Get package info

In the DUMP OF SERVICE package section, there’s a Packages: subsection. I think you can usually just search /\v^Packages:$ and there will only be one line like this. Example:

  Package [] (d25a194):
    lastUpdateTime=2020-08-14 15:25:11
    declared permissions: prot=signature, INSTALLED
    User 0: ceDataInode=5475 installed=true hidden=false suspended=false distractionFlags=0 stopped=false notLaunched=false enabled=0 instant=false virtual=false
    User 10: ceDataInode=25088 installed=true hidden=false suspended=false distractionFlags=0 stopped=false notLaunched=false enabled=0 instant=false virtual=false

Why does a package have multiple package info sections?

Note that anything on the system image will have 2 different packages with the same package string, but different hashes. The first will have a lastUpdateTime way in the past, and the second will have an and typically a more recent lastUpdateTime.

Remove/filter lines

A lot of times you want to find items related to a particular package, i.e., but if you just search for that string, you get a lot of noise (i.e. idenditcal 70 lines). Removing these lines makes it a lot easier to search for issues.

  1. Optional: In your vimrc set hlsearch | set incsearch so that you can easily see if your search string is matching the lines you want to remove. And then you may want to set nohlsearch | set noincsearch if you’re in an especially big report.
  2. Optional: I also nnoremap / /\v | vnoremap / /\v so that by default searching for stuff uses not-arcane regex syntax.
  3. Search for what you want to remove:

     /\ identical.*lines<cr>
  4. Remove those lines:

     :g/\ identical.*lines/d<cr>

    Optionally, vim can auto-fill your last search by pressing <c-r>/ after the first /:

     :g/<c-r>//d " `<c-r>/` gets replaced to the line above

Find logs from a specific app

Once you’ve gotten the UID for your app, and filtered the noisy lines, you can jump through the logs for your app by searching for. So if you want to find log statements from UID 10161, you’d search for a pattern of <date> <time> 10161.

It might help to start with the logcat section:

------ SYSTEM LOG (logcat -v threadtime -v printable -v uid -d *:v) ------

And then search for lines from the app:


Google Play services noise I like to filter

There’s a lot of noise I don’t typically need, so the following might be helpful to copy/paste and clean that up.

:g/\v 10161 .*GmsTraceAlert/d
:g/\v 10161 .*BlueskyManager/d
:g/\v 10161 .*chatty.*identical.*line/d
:g/\v 10161 .*ActivityThread.*Failed to find provider/d

Other resources

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