Cannot debug .NET framework source in Visual Studio 2008 SP1

Update 21 July 2009

All of a sudden, traffic to this post in my blog has leapt up again, so I was curious as to why so? If you are running Windows Vista, and have upgraded to SP2, then debugging the .NET source no longer works, full update in this post (jump to today’s date of course).

Update 4 September 2008

The .NET 3.5 SP1 source code has now been made available. The best place to subscribe henceforth and forthwith is the new Reference Source Code Center.

They have also changed the way that symbols are loaded, a tutorial is available here.
Update 20 August 2008 (Original article beneath)

I have just received an Email back from Shawn Burke. This was the question I put to him;

Hello Shawn,

I would like to know if you have any concrete plans for a .NET 3.5 SP1 release that allows us reference to this new update?

Warmest regards,


And this was his response

Hi Ira –

It’s being worked on, hopefully by the end of the week.



Original Article

After wasting an hour or so I have bumped into an annoying limitation of the new Visual Studio.NET 2008 Service Pack 1. When one attempts to load the Symbols you get a messagebox dialogue saying "There is no source code available for the current location"


The reason why is because Microsoft have not posted the correct .pdb files for the .NET 3.5 SP1 release. Don’t waste your time trying to install the Visual Studio QFE which was required when the initial .NET source was released as this does not work – as I’ve just found out. The only place to get information has been Shawn Burke’s blog, but he appears to have turned off comments after someone identified this anomaly. I certainly hope the source will be available soon, because I really needed it today. I will probably install .NET 3.5 on a virtual machine and access the code I need to that way.

There have been some changes to the debugging options like the flat check boxes. This is prior to SP1


This is after


Additional options have been added to the Symbols menu, again this is prior to SP1


And this is post SP1


The above changes are reflected in the context menu that you use to debug, before




All in all some small, but useful enhancements to improve the debugging experience. I do hope the new .pdb files are released soon.

19 thoughts on “Cannot debug .NET framework source in Visual Studio 2008 SP1

  1. I encoutered the same problem, i’ve spent hours testing every kind of options, reinstalling VS 2008, checking if there is any hotfix, but i guess you are true, the .pdb and source files for .NET 3.5 SP1 haven’t yet been released.

  2. Hi Olivier,

    If you check out by Brad Abrams, you will see that Patrick Smacchia (NDepend) has just created an explicit breakdown of what has changed.

    If you think about it, a lot has changed, so they will need to make available the updated libraries. It would have been nice to have been told that there would be a wait, and not have wasted time trying to figure out whether something was wrong, but the more I think about it, the more I understand why things don’t work anymore.

    I have managed to install Visual Studio 2008 without .NET 3.5 SP1 onto a virtual machine, and can debug the .NET source as normal. You may need to do the same until the libraries are updated.

  3. oh my god, thanks so much man, I’ve just spent 2 hours trying to get it over and over again, changing my methodology to see if I’m wrong…..

    Ok, so its not gonna work…I can go home…DataPager, tomorrow you will be mine!

  4. Hello Bruno,

    You are now able to debug the .NET source now. I recommend having a look at the updated information at the start of this post.


  5. I have some endless downloads of pdb files when i “Enable source server support”, each time is sart debugging visual redownloads all the pdb files. Do you know what are the exact options to check in “Tools->Options->Debugging”?

  6. I want to call Anthem method but i get above dilog box ‘There is no source code available for current location.’

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