Tutorial: GNU Coverage with MCUXpresso IDE

If you are developing Linux or desktop applications with GNU tools, you  very likely are familiar with gcov: the GNU coverage tool. It collects data what parts of the code gets executed and represents that in different formats, great to check what is really used in the application code or what has been covered during multiple test runs.

Coverage Information with gcov

Coverage Information with gcov

line never executed

line never executed

GNU coverage is possible for resource constraint embedded systems too: it still needs some extra RAM and code space, but very well spent for gathering metrics and improves the firmware quality. As I wrote in “MCUXpresso IDE V11.3.0 for 2021” things are now easier to use, so here is a short tutorial how to use it.

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assert(), __FILE__, Path and other cool GNU gcc Tricks to be aware of

It is always good to have a close look what ends up in a microcontroller FLASH memory. For example using EHEP Eclipse plugin to inspect the binary file:

Source File Name in Binary Image

Source File Name in Binary Image

Obviously it has path and source file information in it. Why is that? And is this really needed?

What about:

  • Privacy: the path or file name might expose information (secret project name?) or might be used for reverse engineering?
  • Size: The strings add up to the final data/FLASH size, so this increases the need for ROM space?

So let’s have a look what is the reason for this and how it could be avoided or at least reduced.

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Hey Google: Find ‘Error from StubMonSemihost: “monitor” command not supported by this target.’

Something what I say quite often is: “Google is your friend”. It means that the answer to many questions can be found with an internet search engine. And I have to admit that I have to ‘google’ my own articles to find solutions for problems I feel I have seen in the past too :-).

But for the one problem below I did not find anything: not on my own blog, and not anywhere else in the internet:

Exception

Exception

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MCUXpresso IDE V11.3.0 for 2021

I’m in the middle of the university exam season: means writing exams and do grading. The same time the new semester is approaching too and I need to prepare the new course material. For the classes using NXP parts I’m using the Eclipse based MCUXpresso IDE, and I just received the announcement that a new version V11.3.0 is available: time to check out what is new.

MCUXpresso IDE v11.3.0 (Build 5222)

MCUXpresso IDE v11.3.0 (Build 5222)

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Eclipse Indexer Debug Tips

Eclipse includes a background parser called ‘Indexer’ which is used to assist the developer with various kind of information, for example jumping to a variable declaration or definition. Basically it is a parser running in the background collecting information about the sources and building up that ‘index’ data base.

indexer debug output

indexer debug output

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OpenOCD with MCU-Link

The NXP MCU-Link is a powerful $10 debug probe for ARM Cortex-M devices and works with the NXP LinkServer for debugging. The LinkServer does not an implement a gdb server, so it limits its usage e.g. for scripting or command line debugging. But as MCU-Link is also a CMSIS-DAP compatible debug probe, I can use it with OpenOCD which is open source and implements a GDB server. This article shows how I can use it with the MCU-Link.

Debugging FRDM-KL25Z with MCU-Link

Debugging FRDM-KL25Z with MCU-Link

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Standalone and Command Line Programmer with MCUXpresso

The MCU-Link is a $10 CMSIS-DAP capable debug probe which works out-of-the box with the MCUXpresso Eclipse based IDE. This is great for development, but how can I programming with the push of a button or a script? The answer is no: there is an easy way to use the debug probe outside Eclipse from a shell script, and you can use that MCU-Link probe to do the job. This is especially useful as with the example below where I have to program 60 boards this week-end :-).

Programming Boards with MCU-Link using command line

Batch Programming Boards with MCU-Link

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Configure hidden and internal Shortcuts in Eclipse

A very useful feature in Eclipse is Ctrl+Shift+L which lists all the available shortcuts:

List of Shortcuts

List of Shortcuts

Pressing Ctrl+Shift-L again will open up a dialog where I can configure them. But what if the shortcut or action is not listed there?

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New MCU-Link Debug Probe from NXP

The NXP MCUXpressso IDE Release V11.2.1 gave a hint about a coming new debug probe, the MCU-Link which is available now:

MCU-Link debugging the LPC845-BRK Board

MCU-Link in 3D printed enclosure debugging the LPC845-BRK Board

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RTOS Trace: TraceX with Microsoft Azure RTOS (aka ThreadX)

Having visibility and insights into a running system is highly valuable or critical: not only for optimizations but as well to verify the system design and behavior. In Getting Started with Microsoft Azure RTOS (aka ThreadX) I showed how to quickly run Azure RTOS. This article is about getting trace out of an ThreadX application and show it in TraceX.

Azure RTOS TraceX

Azure RTOS TraceX

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