NDK Bisection tool

This is an example bisection for an NDK build system. This example specifically bisects the sample NDK Teapot app. All steps (setup and otherwise) for bisection can be found in DO_BISECTION.sh. This shell script is meant to show the process required to bisect a compiler problem in an arbitrary NDK app build system.

There are three necessary setup steps to run this example:

  1. Install the NDK (known to work with r12b)

    1. See here for NDK: https://developer.android.com/ndk/index.html
    2. Go here for older NDK downloads: https://github.com/android-ndk/ndk/wiki
  2. Install the compiler wrapper provided with this repo. See compiler_wrapper.py for more details.

    1. Essentially you must go into the NDK source (or where you build system stores its toolchain), rename your compilers to .real, and create a symlink pointing to compiler_wrapper.py named (where your compiler used to be).

    2. If you're using the toolchains that come with the NDK they live at: <ndk_path>/toolchains/<arch>/prebuilt/<host>/bin example: <ndk_path>/toolchains/llvm/prebuilt/linux-x86_64/bin/clang

  3. Plug in an Arm7 compatible Android device with usb debugging enabled.

    1. This bisection example was tested with a Nexus 5X

    2. It should be relatively simple to change the example to work with other types of devices. Just change the scripts, and change PATCH1 to use a different build flavor (like x86). See below for more details.

This example contains two patches:

PATCH1 - This is the necessary changes to the build system to make the bisection easier. More specifically, it adds an arm7 build flavor to gradle. By default, this project will build objects for all possible architectures and package them into one big apk. These object files meant for another architecture just sit there and don‘t actually execute. By adding a build flavor for arm7, our compiler wrapper won’t try to bisect object files meant for another device.

PATCH2 - This patch is what inserts the “compiler error”. This is a simple nullptr error in one of the source files, but it is meant to mimic bad code generation. The result of the error is the app simply crashes immediately after starting.

Using another device architecture

If we want to bisect for an x86-64 device we first need to provide a arch specific build flavor in our app/build.gradle file:

create("x86-64") {

We want to add this under the same “productFlavors” section that our arm7 build flavor is in (see PATCH1). Now we should have the “installx86-64Debug” task in our build system. We can use this to build and install an x86-64 version of our app.

Now we want to change our test_setup.sh script to run our new gradle task:

./gradlew installx86-64Debug

Keep in mind, these specific build flavors are not required. If your build system makes these device specific builds difficult to implement, the bisection tool will function perfectly fine without them. However, the downside of not having targetting a single architecture is the bisection will take longer (as it will need to search across more object files).

Additional Documentation

These are internal Google documents, if you are a developer external to Google please ask whoever gave you this sample for access or copies to the documentation. If you cannot gain access, the various READMEs paired with the bisector should help you.