Wrap shell script

When debugging and profiling apps with native code, it’s often useful to use debugging tools that need to be enabled at process startup. This requires that you run your app in a fresh process rather than cloning from the zygote. Examples include:

Use the wrap shell script

Using wrap.sh is easy:

  1. Compile a custom debuggable APK that packages the following:
  2. Install the debuggable APK on a device.
  3. Launch the app.

Create the wrap shell script

When you launch a debuggable APK that contains wrap.sh, the system executes the script and passes the command to start the app as arguments. The script is responsible for starting the app, but can make any environment or argument changes. The script should follow MirBSD Korn shell (mksh) syntax.

The following snippet shows how to write a simple wrap.sh file that just starts the app:

exec "$@"

Malloc debug

To use malloc debug via wrap.sh, you would include the following line:

LIBC_DEBUG_MALLOC_OPTIONS=backtrace logwrapper "$@"


There's an example of how to do this for ASan in the ASan documentation.

Package wrap.sh

To take advantage of wrap.sh, your APK must be debuggable. Make sure that the android:debuggable="true"setting is configured in the <application> element in your Android manifest, or if you are using Android Studio that you've configured a debug build in the build.gradle file.

It's also necessary to set useLegacyPackaging to true in your app's build.gradle file. In most cases, this option is set to false by default, so you might want to set this explicitly to true to avoid any surprises.

You must package the wrap.sh script with the native libraries of the app. If your app does not contain native libraries, add the lib directory manually to your project directory. For each architecture that your app supports, you must provide a copy of the wrap shell script under that native library directory.

The following example shows the file layout to support both the ARMv8 and x86-64 architectures:

# App Directory
|- AndroidManifest.xml
|- …
|- lib
   |- arm64-v8a
      |- ...
      |- wrap.sh
   |- x86_64
      |- ...
      |- wrap.sh

Android Studio only packages .so files from the lib/ directories, so if you're an Android Studio user, you'll need to place your wrap.sh files in the src/main/resources/lib/* directories instead, so that they'll be packaged correctly.

Note that resources/lib/x86 will be displayed in the UI as lib.x86, but it should actually be a subdirectory:

Example of packaging wrap.sh in Android Studio

Debug when using wrap.sh

If you want to attach a debugger when using wrap.sh, your shell script will need to manually enable debugging. How to do this has varied between releases, so this example shows how to add the appropriate options for all releases that support wrap.sh:



os_version=$(getprop ro.build.version.sdk)

if [ "$os_version" -eq "27" ]; then
  cmd="$cmd -Xrunjdwp:transport=dt_android_adb,suspend=n,server=y -Xcompiler-option --debuggable $@"
elif [ "$os_version" -eq "28" ]; then
  cmd="$cmd -XjdwpProvider:adbconnection -XjdwpOptions:suspend=n,server=y -Xcompiler-option --debuggable $@"
  cmd="$cmd -XjdwpProvider:adbconnection -XjdwpOptions:suspend=n,server=y $@"

exec $cmd