IntelliJ IDEA 2020.1 Help

Tutorial: Remote debug

In this tutorial, we'll learn how to attach to a local or remote process using the IntelliJ IDEA debugger.

Create a project

First, let's set up the project that we'll be debugging (a simple program that outputs the capital letters from A to Z).

  1. Create a new project .

  2. Create a class named Alphabet.

    Alphabet.java in the Project tool window
  3. In the body of the Alphabet class, paste the following definition of the main method:

    public static void main(String[] args) { System.out.println("Starting"); for (char c = 'A'; c < 'Z'; c++) { try { Thread.sleep(2500); } catch (InterruptedException e) { e.printStackTrace(); } System.out.println(c); } System.out.println("Complete"); }

Create run configurations

To allow the debugger to attach, we need to run the application with special parameters (more on them shortly). In this tutorial, we'll set up a run/debug configuration that will do this for us. This way, we are going to have two run/debug configurations: one for running the app and another for attaching to it.

Set up the debugger

First, we need to set up the run/debug configuration that will be used for attaching to the host application.

  1. From the main menu, select Run | Edit Configurations or press Shift+Alt+F10 then 0.

  2. In the Run/Debug Configurations dialog, click the Add New Configuration button icons general add and select Remote.

    The Add New Configuration button in the top-left corner of the Run/Debug Configurations dialog
  3. Configure/use the following properties:

    • Name: configure how this run configuration will be called. The name can be anything, including the default value.

    • Host: the address of the machine where the host app will run. Since we are running it on the same machine, it needs to be localhost. If the program was running on another machine, we would specify its address here, for example: 192.168.17.43.

    • Command line arguments for remote JVM: the VM options that the host application needs to be started with. We will use them in the other run/debug configuration. You can copy them now or get back to this field later.

    The Name, Host, and Command line arguments for remote JVM fields
  4. Click Apply.

Set up the host app

There are no restrictions on how exactly the host application needs to be run. For example, you can package the app as a JAR and run it using the following command line:


java -jar -agentlib:jdwp=transport=dt_socket,server=y,suspend=n,address=*:5005 remote-debug.jar

In this tutorial, we are going to use a run/debug configuration that will do the most of work for us.

  1. Right-click anywhere in the body of the Alphabet class and select Create 'Alphabet.main()'.

  2. In the VM options field, paste the options that you copied from the debug configuration.

    VM options field in the run/debug configuration of the host app
  3. Click Apply.

Run the app

Now that we prepared all that is necessary, we can proceed with running our application.

  • Press Shift+Alt+F10 and select Alphabet.

    The Run popup

In the program output, the first line will be:


Listening for transport dt_socket at address: 5005

This indicates that we have enabled the debug agent and our program is ready to accept incoming debugger connections.

Attach to process

  1. Click the gutter at line 10 to set a line breakpoint there.

    Setting a line breakpoint at line 10
  2. Press Shift+Alt+F9 and select your remote debug configuration.

    The Debug popup

As the result, the program is suspended at the breakpoint, and you can perform any debugging actions like stepping, expression evaluation, and so on.

The blue highlighting indicates that the program is suspended at line 10

The debugging process is the same regardless of how and where your app is launched. After you have connected, you can use the same debugger features as if you were launching your app right from IntelliJ IDEA.

Closing the debug session

  1. Close the corresponding session tab in the Debug tool window.

    The current session tab in the top part of the Debug tool window
  2. Select if you want to terminate the process or disconnect from it.

    • Disconnect stops the debug session and the process continues to run.

    • Terminate stops both the process and the debug session.

    The popup is asking whether you want to only stop the session (Disconnect)                 or both the session and the process (Terminate)
Last modified: 25 May 2020