Pin - A Binary Instrumentation Tool - FAQ

ID 662871
Updated 6/13/2012
Version Latest




A) Bugs

How Do I Report Bugs?

Please post to the Pinheads Newsgroup. Provide as much information as possible so that we can reproduce the bug. What is the command line? What is the system you are running on. On Linux* do:

cat /etc/*release*

What is the full name of the kit that you are using? Problems that can be reproduced using the sample tools in the kit are the easiest for us to reproduce.

I Get an Error that Pin App Terminated Abnormally due to Signal

First, you can find out what each signal means by typing: man 7 signal. Next, you can debug the problem using GDB as described in the user manual

My IPOINT_AFTER for an RTN Is Not Being Called

IPOINT_AFTER for RTN is implemented by instrumenting the ret instruction. Pin finds the ret by scanning the body of the function. Sometimes a procedure doesn’t return, but instead jumps to another procedure which does the exit. To reliably instrument after a function has exited, you can replace the function with a wrapper function and put the before/after actions in the wrapper function.

B) Building PinTools

Can I Create Threads in My PinTool?

Yes, Pin provides an interface that allows PinTools to create and manage their own threads. For example, the PIN_SpawnInternalThread() function can be used to create a new tool's internal thread in the current process. See the Pin Thread API section in the Pin's manual for detailed descriptions of this and other threading functions provided by Pin.

Note PinTools can NOT link against the pthreads library nor can they use pthreads functions on Linux. The reason for this is that using pthreads in the tool would interfere with the pthreads library linked into the application (e.g. they both try to take over the same signal handlers). Similarly, PinTools should not use Win32 threading API (e.g. CreateThread()) on Windows because this does not allow distinguishing between threads created by the application and the tool's internal threads.

C) Features

Does Pin Handle Multi-Threaded Programs


Does Pin Instrument Shared Libraries?


Does Pin Handle Self-Modifying Code?


Does Pin Handle Programs With Threads and Signals?

Pin is able to instrument all code, including threads and signals. It provides precise exception state in handlers; a handler cannot detect that the program is instrumented by looking at the context of the interrupted thread.

Does Pin Change the Application Code and Data Addresses?

Pin allocates memory in the address space of the application, and that may cause application code, shared libraries and dynamically allocated data to move.

Note Recent Linux kernels intentionally move the location of stack and dynamically allocated data from run to run, even if you are not using pin. On RedHat-based systems you can workaround this by running Pin as follows:

$ setarch i386 pin -t pintool -- app

setarch i386 tells the kernel to disable Address Space Layout Randomization.

D) General

What Version of CPU Do I Need to Run Pin?

Pin will run on all Intel® 64 Architectures. An IA-32 processor needs the following features:

  • C8 - CMPXCHG8B
  • SSE2

Pentium III processors do not have SSE2. Pentium IV processors can run Pin. You can check the capabilities of your processor on Linux with the following command:

cat /proc/cpuinfo

Does Pin Support Non-Intel CPUs?

Pin has not been tested on systems with non-Intel processors. Therefore, incompatible or proprietary instructions in non-Intel processors may cause Pin to function incorrectly. Any attempt to instrument code not supported by Intel processors may lead to failures.

What Version of OS Do I Need to Run Pin?

Pin has been validated on the below platforms:

  • Linux
    • CentOS* 7.8 and 8.2, Fedora* 31 and 32, openSUSE* 15.2, SLES 11.4 SLES 12.5 and 15.2, Ubuntu* 18.04 19.10 and 20.04
  • macOS
    • macOS* 10.14, macOS* 10.15 
    • Pin supports SIP enabled machines when running on non-system code. 
  • Windows
    • Windows® 10 19H2, 20H1 and 20H2.
    • Windows* Server 2016 and 2019.

Can Pin Instrument a 32-bit Application Running on a 64-bit OS?

Yes. You will have to build the 32-bit version of the tool. See the user manual.

How Can I Run Spec Programs with Pin?

In your SPEC config file (one of the files in $SPEC/config), add the following two lines:

submit=/my/path/to/pin/Bin/pin -t /my/pin/tool -- $command use_submit_for_speed=yes

Now SPEC will automatically run Pin with whatever benchmarks it runs. Note that you need the full path name for your pin and pintool binaries.

Is Pin Open Source?

The instrumentation engine is not open source, but the example tools are open source. They have a BSD-style license, and can be redistributed in any form, as long as you keep the copyright notice.

I Used Pin for My Latest Paper. What Citation Should I Include?

Chi-Keung Luk, Robert Cohn, Robert Muth, Harish Patil, Artur Klauser, Geoff Lowney, Steven Wallace, Vijay Janapa Reddi, Kim Hazelwood. "Pin: Building Customized Program Analysis Tools with Dynamic Instrumentation," Programming Language Design and Implementation (PLDI), Chicago, IL, June 2005, pp. 190-200.


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