Heaptrace – Helps Visualize Heap Operations For Pwn And Debugging

heaptrace is a heap debugger for tracking glibc heap operations in ELF64 (x86_64) binaries. Its purpose is to help visualize heap operations when debugging binaries or doing heap pwn.

  • replaces addresses with easy-to-understand symbols
  • detects heap corruption and memory leakage issues
  • can debug in gdb at any point (--break)
  • supports all ELF64 (x86_64) binaries regardless of ASLR or compiler settings (including stripped binaries)

How are heaptrace and valgrind different?


Official Releases

See the .deb and .rpm release files, and a pre-compiled binary at the Releases page.

Ubuntu PPA

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:arinerron/heaptrace
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install heaptrace

Arch User Repository (PKGBUILD)

Use your preferred AUR helper to install one of the two following packages:

$ trizen -S heaptrace-git
... OR ...
$ trizen -S heaptrace

Compile from Source

$ git clone https://github.com/Arinerron/heaptrace.git && cd heaptrace
$ make
$ sudo make install
$ heaptrace ./target


You can specify arguments to heaptrace before specifying the binary name:

heaptrace [options...] <target> [args...]
heaptrace [options...] --attach <pid>

-p <pid>, --attach <pid>, --pid <pid>
Tells heaptrace to attach to the specified pid
instead of running the binary from the `target`
argument. Note that if you specify this argument
you do not have to specify `target`.

-b <expression>, --break=<expression>, --break-at=<expression>
Send SIGSTOP to the process when the specified
`expression` is satisfied and attach the GNU debugger
(gdb) to the process.

This argument supports complex expressions. Please
See the documentation for more information:

-B <expression>, --break-after=<expression>
Similar to `--break`. Replaces the tracer
process with gdb, but only af ter the heap function
returns. See the documentation for more information:

-e <name=value>, --environ=<name=value>, --environment=<name=value>
Sets a single environmental variable. Useful for
setting runtime settings for the target such as
LD_PRELOAD=./libc.so.6 without having them affect
heaptrace's runtime configuration. This option can
be used multiple times.

-s <sym_defs>, --symbols=<sym_defs>
Override the values heaptrace detects for the
malloc/calloc/free/realloc/reallocarray symbols.
Useful if heaptrace fails to automatically
identify heap functions in a stripped binary. See
the wiki for more info.

-F, --follow-fork, --follow
Tells heaptrace to detach the parent and follow
the child if the target calls fork(), vfork(), or

The default behavior is to detach the child and
only trace the parent.

-G <path>, --gdb-path <path>
Tells heaptrace to use the path to gdb specified
in `path` instead of /usr/bin/gdb (default).

-w <width>, --width=<width>, --term-width=<width>
Force a certain terminal width.

-o <file>, --output=<file>
Write the heaptrace output to `file` instead of
/dev/stderr (which is the default output path).

-v, --verbose
Prints verbose information such as line numbers in
source code given the required debugging info is
stored in the ELF.

-V, --version
Displays the current heaptrace version.

-h, --help
Shows this help menu.

  • For example, if you wanted to automatically attach gdb at operation #3, you would execute heaptrace --break=3 ./my-binary. Please see the wiki documentation for more information on how to use this argument.
  • See the wiki documentation for more information on how to use the -s/--symbol argument to debug stripped binaries that heaptrace failed to automatically identify functions in.
  • Set the $NO_COLOR argument to remove ANSI color codes from output. This option is still in development and will be converted into an argument soon.


I'm happy to help if you experience a bug or have any feedback. Please see the GitHub Issues page.