Debugging iOS apps on jailbroken iPhone

LLDB + debugserver to debug iOS apps

Posted by NSEcho on 2020-07-03 13:44:28

The first time I have tried to debug iOS apps on my jailbroken iPhone I hit the wall. There were many issues I had to solve so in this short post I’m gonna try to help you with this. Since you came to this post, I believe you already know what is lldb so I won’t talk about it and let’s get straight to the point.


  1. Jailbroken iPhone (mine is iPhone 11, 13.4.1)
  2. OpenSSH installed and running on iPhone since we will be using scp to copy files to and from device.

Getting debugserver on device

The first thing you need to do is get debugserver on the device. There are generally two ways you can do this:

  • Using hdiutil to attach certain image for your iOS
  • Creating simple blank iOS app in Xcode and deploying it to your device.

You can check whether you successfully did any of these methods by checking if there is file /Developer/usr/bin/debugserver. If you see it, procede to the next section. Otherwise, repeat steps to get your debugserver on device.

Signing debugserver

The next thing you want to do is transfer debugserver to your Mac. I am using scp for transfering, you can use any tool you are comfortable with. I am connected to device over usb and iproxy is up and running on port 2222 ($ iproxy 2222 22).

$ scp -P 2222 root@localhost:/Developer/usr/bin/debugserver /tmp

For signing debugserver I am using ldid which came installed with Theos. Create file ent.xml with following content:

<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

Copy debugserver and ent.xml in the same folder and substitute /opt/theos for your install location of Theos. After creating file, issue $ /opt/theos/bin/ldid -Sent.xml debugserver.

Then run $ codesign -s - --entitlements ent.plist -f debugserver. Copy debugserver back to the device, give it executive permission.

$ scp -P 2222 debugserver root@localhost:/usr/bin/debugserver
$ ssh root@localhost -p 2222
$ chmod u+x /usr/bin/debugserver

Running debugserver and connecting with lldb

Spawn another iproxy instance which will be used for lldb connecting like so $ iproxy 6666 6666 on your mac. Now it is time to run our debugserver, we will be attaching to SpringBoard. Open terminal app on your iPhone or connect over ssh and run # /usr/bin/debugserver -a SpringBoard.

You should see output similar to the one below. Also, your iphone will seems like it is not responding, that is because debugserver is attached to it and waiting for lldb to connect it in order to continue the process.

# /usr/bin/debugserver -a SpringBoard
debugserver-@(#)PROGRAM:LLDB  PROJECT:lldb-900.3.104
 for arm64.
Attaching to process SpringBoard...
Listening to port 6666 for a connection from localhost...

At this point, you should have 2 or 3 tabs open:

  1. iproxy 2222 22
  2. iproxy 6666 6666 - for debugserver
  3. ssh connection to iphone - this applies only if you are connecting over ssh to iphone instead of terminal app

Now create another terminal tab and type lldb and then type process connect connect:// Output will look something like this:

(lldb) process connect connect://
Process 6984 stopped
* thread #1, queue = '', stop reason = signal SIGSTOP
    frame #0: 0x000000019c1ac784 libsystem_kernel.dylib`mach_msg_trap + 8
->  0x19c1ac784 <+8>: ret

    0x19c1ac788 <+0>: mov    x16, #-0x20
    0x19c1ac78c <+4>: svc    #0x80
    0x19c1ac790 <+8>: ret
Target 0: (SpringBoard) stopped.

Type c at lldb prompt to continue process and now your iphone will become responsive again. If you come this far, that means now you know how to debug ios applications on jailbroken iphone using lldb and debugserver. If you have any question, send me an email.