Debugging PowerShell scripts

When writing Step Templates or Scripts, it is sometimes useful to be able to debug through a script to track down hard to diagnose issues.

In PowerShell version 5.0 and above, Octopus supports script debugging to enable you to step through the script as it is being run by the Tentacle, to set breakpoints, view the call stack, the values of variable and more.

To enable debugging, add a variable to your project with the name Octopus.Action.PowerShell.DebugMode, with one of the following values:

  • BreakBeforeLaunchingUserScript or True - breaks just before executing the Step Template/Script Step/Custom deployment script.
  • None or False - disables debugging.

For more advanced usage, you can also use the following values:

  • BreakAtStartOfBootstrapScript - breaks into the debugger at the very start of the bootstrap script.
  • BreakBeforeSettingVariables - breaks into the debugger just before setting up all the variables.
  • BreakBeforeImportingScriptModules - breaks just before importing Script Modules. Useful for debugging issues with Script Modules.

Once the variable is set, create and deploy your release as normal.

When the Tentacle executes the script, it will print out instructions on how to attach the debugger, eg:

The Powershell execution engine is waiting for a PowerShell script debugger to attach.
Use the following commands to begin debugging this script:
Enter-PSSession -ComputerName Server01 -Credential <credentials>
Enter-PSHostProcess -Id 2284
Debug-Runspace -Id 2

If you have PowerShell remoting enabled, you can connect and debug remotely from either the command line or PowerShell ISE.

If you are on the server which is running the script, you can omit the Enter-PSSession line.

From PowerShell ISE, execute the specified commands at the PS > prompt. ISE will load the script, attach the debugger and allow you to step through the code.

Once you’ve finished debugging, you can either allow the script to run to the end, or you can choose Stop Debugging from the Debug menu.

If you receive an error message The background process reported an error with the following message: "The named pipe target process has ended"., you can safely ignore this - it is just reporting that the PowerShell process you were debugging has ended.

Preventing the PowerShell profile from running

The execution of the Tentacle service account’s PowerShell profile script can sometimes cause a long delay each time a script is run. Starting in version 3.3.21, to prevent it being run, add a variable named Octopus.Action.PowerShell.ExecuteWithoutProfile with a value of true to your project.

Learn more

Help us continuously improve

Please let us know if you have any feedback about this page.

Send feedback

Page updated on Sunday, January 1, 2023