Review: 5 memory debuggers for Linux coding

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As a programmer, I'm aware that I tend to make mistakes -- and why not? Even programmers are human. Some errors are detected during code compilation, while others get caught during software testing. However, a category of error exists that usually does not get detected at either of these stages and that may cause the software to behave unexpectedly -- or worse, terminate prematurely.

If you haven't already guessed it, I am talking about memory-related errors. Manually debugging these errors can be not only time-consuming but difficult to find and correct. Also, it's worth mentioning that these errors are surprisingly common, especially in software written in programming languages like C and C++, which were designed for use with manual memory management.

Thankfully, several programming tools exist that can help you find memory errors in your software programs. In this roundup, I assess five popular, free and open-source memory debuggers that are available for Linux: Dmalloc, Electric Fence, Memcheck, Memwatch and Mtrace. I've used all five in my day-to-day programming, and so these reviews are based on practical experience.

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