An easy way to debug WebKit’s WebProcess with GDB

WebKit is an engine that uses multiple processes and multiple threads at runtime. There are some very useful generic instructions on how to debug one of its processes on Linux (with focus on the GTK port) in this wiki page. They work pretty well when WebKit is built using the Flatpak SDK and the scripts and gdbserver is installed in the system, but I faced some problems when I wanted to built WebKit with CMake having custom build and installation directories. So in this post, I’m going to describe the easiest way I’ve found so far to debug it when SDK is not being used and a gdbserver is not present in the system. I’ve found this simple solution after having tried a combination of tricks from the WebKit wiki instructions, GDB documentation and a discussion with my colleages at Igalia.

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Build WebKit/WPE on Linux/X11

There’s a lot of documentation online about building Webkit/WPE on Linux. But as most instructions are targetting embedded platforms developers, the focus is on building Webkit with Wayland using the flatpak-sdk to automate and speed up the building process. As the steps I’ve followed to build it on my X11 system and run the Webkit/WPE MiniBrowser on a nested Weston were a bit different from the recommended ones I thought that a blog post about them might be useful to people trying to build WPE/Webkit in platforms lacking Wayland, flatpak, systemd, and modern Desktop Environments like the latest KDE and GNOME.

Be careful though: this is not the recommended way to build WebKit/WPE, only the alternative steps I’ve followed in my personal computer until I have access to a building machine! If you are not sure about what you want to do with WebKit/WPE please take a look at the recommended wiki instructions before you follow mine!

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