Sunday, May 22, 2016

Remote Debugging Visual C++ 2015

This describes how to configure your system to do remote debugging when you are using Visual Studio 2015. There is no installer for the debug DLLs, so you need to work around this problem.

Among other things, these instructions solve this error message:

The program can't start because ucrtbased.dll is missing from your computer.

These instructions take extra steps to handle the case where you are doing DLL builds instead of static linking MFC and CRT.

Note: These instructions should not be used for release versions of MFC and CRT. Those files can be installed with the files in C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\VC\redist\1033.

1. Install the Remote Debug Tools

The version you install depends on the bitness of Windows. Most people will therefore want to install the 64-bit version. It will debug both 32-bit and 64-bit applications.
  • Click on Tools for Visual Studio 2015 on the left.
  • Click Remote Tools for Visual Studio 2015.
  • Choose the desired version. The section on top is for Visual Studio Update 2. The second section is for other versions of Visual Studio 2015.
  • Select the desired bitness
  • Click Download
  • Run the installer

2. Create a shortcut to the Remote Debug tool

Next create a link to the remote debugger on your desktop. Below is the command I used. All security is disabled because I'm the only user on my local network. Note the useful "/anyuser" parameter that is very helpful when your test VMs are configured with generic user accounts.

"C:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\Common7\IDE\Remote Debugger\x64\msvsmon.exe" /noauth /anyuser  /nosecuritywarn /timeout 10000

3. Copy the MFC and CRT DLL's to your application's Debug directory.

There is no installer for the debug DLLs, so you need to work around this problem.

Let's say your application is in:


Copy the CRT and MFC files as follows. Change MYARCH to be x64 if you are debugging a 64-bit application. This depends on the bitness of your application, not the bitness of Windows.

set MYDEBUG=C:\Projects\MyApp\Debug
set MYARCH=x86

copy "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\VC\redist\debug_nonredist\%MYARCH%\Microsoft.VC140.DebugMFC" %MYDEBUG%

copy "C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Visual Studio 14.0\VC\redist\debug_nonredist\%MYARCH%\Microsoft.VC140.DebugCRT" %MYDEBUG%

4. Copy ucrtbased.dll into your application's Debug directory

The Universal CRT DLL is from the Windows SDK. It is not in the Visual Studio directory. This is a new file required as of Visual Studio 2015. Make sure you set MYDEBUG and MYARCH as shown in the last step.

copy "C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Kits\10\bin\%MYARCH%\ucrt\ucrtbased.dll" %MYDEBUG%

Note that the discussion on MSDN about ucrtbased.dll being part of Windows 10 is wrong.

5. Define a network share

Create a network share to your Debug directory. It's a lot easier than copying files around. Let's assume you shared your entire C drive. You can share read-only.

On the VM, mount it as a standard drive. I like to use K:.

Finally, in Visual Studio, in the debugger properties, set the application location to use the network share as the path.

6. Run with remote debugging

Start the remote debugger msvcmon.exe on the VM using the shortcut you created in Step 2.

7. Run the debugger in Visual Studio