[16/16] gdb: make string-like set show commands use std::string variable

Message ID 20210714045520.1623120-17-simon.marchi@polymtl.ca
State Superseded
Headers show
Series
  • Bunch of commands related cleanups
Related show

Commit Message

Lancelot SIX via Gdb-patches July 14, 2021, 4:55 a.m.
String-like settings (var_string, var_filename, var_optional_filename,
var_string_noescape) currently take a pointer to a `char *` storage
variable (typically global) that holds the setting's value.  I'd like to
"mordernize" this by changing them to use an std::string for storage.

An obvious reason is that string operations on std::string are often
easier to write than with C strings.  And they avoid having to do any
manual memory management.

Another interesting reason is that, with `char *`, nullptr and an empty
string often both have the same meaning of "no value".  String settings
are initially nullptr (unless initialized otherwise).  But when setting
them to nothing, they point to an empty string.  For example,
solib_search_path is nullptr at startup, but points to an empty string
after doing "set solib-search-path".  This leads to some code that needs
to check for both to check for "no value".  Or some code that converts
back and forth between NULL and "" when getting or setting the value.  I
find this very error-prone, because it is very easy to forget one or the
other.  With std::string, we at least know that the variable is not
"NULL".  There is only one way of representing an empty string setting,
that is with an empty string.

I was wondering whether the distinction between NULL and "" would be
important for some setting, but it doesn't seem so.  If that ever
happens, it would be more C++-y and self-descriptive to use
optional<string> anyway.

Actually, there's one spot where this distinction mattered, it's in
init_history, for the test gdb.base/gdbinit-history.exp.  init_history
sets the history filename to the default ".gdb_history" if it sees that
the setting was never set - if history_filename is nullptr.  If
history_filename is an empty string, it means the setting was explicitly
cleared, so it leaves it as-is.  With the change to std::string, this
distinction doesn't exist anymore.  This can be fixed by moving the code
that chooses a good default value for history_filename to
_initialize_top.  This is ran before -ex commands are processed, so an
-ex command can then clear that value if needed (what
gdb.base/gdbinit-history.exp tests).

Another small improvement, in my opinion is that we can now easily
give string parameters initial values, by simply initializing the global
variables, instead of xstrdup-ing it in the _initialize function.

In Python and Guile, when registering a string-like parameter, we
allocate (with new) an std::string that is owned by the param_smob (in
Guile) and the parmpy_object (in Python) objects.

This patch started by changing all relevant add_setshow_* commands to
take an `std::string *` instead of a `char **` and fixing everything
that failed to build.  That includes of course all string setting
variable and their uses.

string_option_def now uses an std::string also, because there's a
connection between options and settings (see
add_setshow_cmds_for_options).

The add_path function in source.c is really complex and twisted, I'd
rather not try to change it to work on an std::string right now.
Instead, I added an overload that copies the std:string to a `char *`
and back.  This means more copying, but this is not used in a hot path
at all, so I think it is acceptable.

Change-Id: I92c50a1bdd8307141cdbacb388248e4e4fc08c93
---
 gdb/auto-load.c           |  48 ++++++----------
 gdb/breakpoint.c          |  22 ++++----
 gdb/build-id.c            |   4 +-
 gdb/cli/cli-cmds.c        |  37 ++++---------
 gdb/cli/cli-decode.c      |  24 ++++----
 gdb/cli/cli-decode.h      |  14 ++++-
 gdb/cli/cli-logging.c     |  23 ++++----
 gdb/cli/cli-option.c      |   9 ++-
 gdb/cli/cli-option.h      |   4 +-
 gdb/cli/cli-setshow.c     |  41 +++++---------
 gdb/command.h             |  32 +++++------
 gdb/compile/compile.c     |  46 ++++++++--------
 gdb/corefile.c            |  17 +++---
 gdb/defs.h                |   4 +-
 gdb/disasm.c              |  11 ++--
 gdb/disasm.h              |   2 +-
 gdb/dwarf2/dwz.c          |   2 +-
 gdb/dwarf2/index-cache.c  |  10 ++--
 gdb/dwarf2/read.c         |  10 ++--
 gdb/event-top.c           |  12 ++--
 gdb/fork-child.c          |   7 +--
 gdb/guile/scm-param.c     |  65 +++++++++++-----------
 gdb/infcmd.c              |  14 ++---
 gdb/linux-thread-db.c     |  17 ++----
 gdb/main.c                |  17 ++----
 gdb/maint-test-options.c  |  11 +---
 gdb/maint-test-settings.c |   8 +--
 gdb/mi/mi-cmd-env.c       |  18 +++---
 gdb/proc-api.c            |   5 +-
 gdb/python/py-param.c     |  40 ++++++++------
 gdb/python/python.c       |   7 +--
 gdb/remote-sim.c          |   7 +--
 gdb/remote.c              |  10 ++--
 gdb/serial.c              |   8 +--
 gdb/solib.c               |  20 +++----
 gdb/source.c              |  66 ++++++++++++----------
 gdb/source.h              |   5 +-
 gdb/stack.c               |  22 ++++----
 gdb/symfile.c             |  49 ++++++++---------
 gdb/symtab.c              |  46 ++++++++--------
 gdb/target-descriptions.c |   2 +-
 gdb/top.c                 | 112 ++++++++++++++++++--------------------
 gdb/top.h                 |   2 +-
 gdb/tracepoint.c          |  29 +++++-----
 gdb/tracepoint.h          |   2 +-
 45 files changed, 456 insertions(+), 505 deletions(-)

-- 
2.32.0

Patch

diff --git a/gdb/auto-load.c b/gdb/auto-load.c
index 9cd70f174c3c..e72c2436f954 100644
--- a/gdb/auto-load.c
+++ b/gdb/auto-load.c
@@ -137,7 +137,7 @@  show_auto_load_local_gdbinit (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 /* Directory list from which to load auto-loaded scripts.  It is not checked
    for absolute paths but they are strongly recommended.  It is initialized by
    _initialize_auto_load.  */
-static char *auto_load_dir;
+static std::string auto_load_dir = AUTO_LOAD_DIR;
 
 /* "set" command for the auto_load_dir configuration variable.  */
 
@@ -145,11 +145,8 @@  static void
 set_auto_load_dir (const char *args, int from_tty, struct cmd_list_element *c)
 {
   /* Setting the variable to "" resets it to the compile time defaults.  */
-  if (auto_load_dir[0] == '\0')
-    {
-      xfree (auto_load_dir);
-      auto_load_dir = xstrdup (AUTO_LOAD_DIR);
-    }
+  if (auto_load_dir.empty ())
+    auto_load_dir = AUTO_LOAD_DIR;
 }
 
 /* "show" command for the auto_load_dir configuration variable.  */
@@ -166,7 +163,7 @@  show_auto_load_dir (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 /* Directory list safe to hold auto-loaded files.  It is not checked for
    absolute paths but they are strongly recommended.  It is initialized by
    _initialize_auto_load.  */
-static char *auto_load_safe_path;
+static std::string auto_load_safe_path = AUTO_LOAD_SAFE_PATH;
 
 /* Vector of directory elements of AUTO_LOAD_SAFE_PATH with each one normalized
    by tilde_expand and possibly each entries has added its gdb_realpath
@@ -181,7 +178,7 @@  auto_load_expand_dir_vars (const char *string)
 {
   char *s = xstrdup (string);
   substitute_path_component (&s, "$datadir", gdb_datadir.c_str ());
-  substitute_path_component (&s, "$debugdir", debug_file_directory);
+  substitute_path_component (&s, "$debugdir", debug_file_directory.c_str ());
 
   if (debug_auto_load && strcmp (s, string) != 0)
     auto_load_debug_printf ("Expanded $-variables to \"%s\".", s);
@@ -199,9 +196,10 @@  static void
 auto_load_safe_path_vec_update (void)
 {
   auto_load_debug_printf ("Updating directories of \"%s\".",
-			  auto_load_safe_path);
+			  auto_load_safe_path.c_str ());
 
-  auto_load_safe_path_vec = auto_load_expand_dir_vars (auto_load_safe_path);
+  auto_load_safe_path_vec
+    = auto_load_expand_dir_vars (auto_load_safe_path.c_str ());
   size_t len = auto_load_safe_path_vec.size ();
 
   /* Apply tilde_expand and gdb_realpath to each AUTO_LOAD_SAFE_PATH_VEC
@@ -253,11 +251,8 @@  set_auto_load_safe_path (const char *args,
 			 int from_tty, struct cmd_list_element *c)
 {
   /* Setting the variable to "" resets it to the compile time defaults.  */
-  if (auto_load_safe_path[0] == '\0')
-    {
-      xfree (auto_load_safe_path);
-      auto_load_safe_path = xstrdup (AUTO_LOAD_SAFE_PATH);
-    }
+  if (auto_load_safe_path.empty ())
+    auto_load_safe_path = AUTO_LOAD_SAFE_PATH;
 
   auto_load_safe_path_vec_update ();
 }
@@ -291,17 +286,14 @@  show_auto_load_safe_path (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 static void
 add_auto_load_safe_path (const char *args, int from_tty)
 {
-  char *s;
-
   if (args == NULL || *args == 0)
     error (_("\
 Directory argument required.\n\
 Use 'set auto-load safe-path /' for disabling the auto-load safe-path security.\
 "));
 
-  s = xstrprintf ("%s%c%s", auto_load_safe_path, DIRNAME_SEPARATOR, args);
-  xfree (auto_load_safe_path);
-  auto_load_safe_path = s;
+  auto_load_safe_path = string_printf ("%s%c%s", auto_load_safe_path.c_str (),
+				       DIRNAME_SEPARATOR, args);
 
   auto_load_safe_path_vec_update ();
 }
@@ -312,14 +304,11 @@  Use 'set auto-load safe-path /' for disabling the auto-load safe-path security.\
 static void
 add_auto_load_dir (const char *args, int from_tty)
 {
-  char *s;
-
   if (args == NULL || *args == 0)
     error (_("Directory argument required."));
 
-  s = xstrprintf ("%s%c%s", auto_load_dir, DIRNAME_SEPARATOR, args);
-  xfree (auto_load_dir);
-  auto_load_dir = s;
+  auto_load_dir = string_printf ("%s%c%s", auto_load_dir.c_str (),
+				 DIRNAME_SEPARATOR, args);
 }
 
 /* Implementation for filename_is_in_pattern overwriting the caller's FILENAME
@@ -459,7 +448,7 @@  file_is_auto_load_safe (const char *filename)
   warning (_("File \"%ps\" auto-loading has been declined by your "
 	     "`auto-load safe-path' set to \"%s\"."),
 	   styled_string (file_name_style.style (), filename_real.get ()),
-	   auto_load_safe_path);
+	   auto_load_safe_path.c_str ());
 
   if (!advice_printed)
     {
@@ -749,11 +738,11 @@  auto_load_objfile_script_1 (struct objfile *objfile, const char *realname,
 	 directory.  */
 
       std::vector<gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char>> vec
-	= auto_load_expand_dir_vars (auto_load_dir);
+	= auto_load_expand_dir_vars (auto_load_dir.c_str ());
 
       auto_load_debug_printf
 	("Searching 'set auto-load scripts-directory' path \"%s\".",
-	 auto_load_dir);
+	 auto_load_dir.c_str ());
 
       /* Convert Windows file name from c:/dir/file to /c/dir/file.  */
       if (HAS_DRIVE_SPEC (debugfile))
@@ -1542,8 +1531,6 @@  This option has security implications for untrusted inferiors."),
 Usage: info auto-load local-gdbinit"),
 	   auto_load_info_cmdlist_get ());
 
-  auto_load_dir = xstrdup (AUTO_LOAD_DIR);
-
   suffix = ext_lang_auto_load_suffix (get_ext_lang_defn (EXT_LANG_GDB));
   gdb_name_help
     = xstrprintf (_("\
@@ -1595,7 +1582,6 @@  Show the list of directories from which to load auto-loaded scripts."),
   xfree (gdb_name_help);
   xfree (guile_name_help);
 
-  auto_load_safe_path = xstrdup (AUTO_LOAD_SAFE_PATH);
   auto_load_safe_path_vec_update ();
   add_setshow_optional_filename_cmd ("safe-path", class_support,
 				     &auto_load_safe_path, _("\
diff --git a/gdb/breakpoint.c b/gdb/breakpoint.c
index 89af44ee4c6b..d07084f1d520 100644
--- a/gdb/breakpoint.c
+++ b/gdb/breakpoint.c
@@ -276,7 +276,7 @@  static const char *dprintf_style = dprintf_style_gdb;
    copied into the command, so it can be anything that GDB can
    evaluate to a callable address, not necessarily a function name.  */
 
-static char *dprintf_function;
+static std::string dprintf_function = "printf";
 
 /* The channel to use for dynamic printf if the preferred style is to
    call into the inferior; if a nonempty string, it will be passed to
@@ -286,7 +286,7 @@  static char *dprintf_function;
    "stderr", this could be an app-specific expression like
    "mystreams[curlogger]".  */
 
-static char *dprintf_channel;
+static std::string dprintf_channel;
 
 /* True if dprintf commands should continue to operate even if GDB
    has disconnected.  */
@@ -6672,7 +6672,7 @@  default_collect_info (void)
   /* If it has no value (which is frequently the case), say nothing; a
      message like "No default-collect." gets in user's face when it's
      not wanted.  */
-  if (!*default_collect)
+  if (default_collect.empty ())
     return;
 
   /* The following phrase lines up nicely with per-tracepoint collect
@@ -8773,17 +8773,17 @@  update_dprintf_command_list (struct breakpoint *b)
     printf_line = xstrprintf ("printf %s", dprintf_args);
   else if (strcmp (dprintf_style, dprintf_style_call) == 0)
     {
-      if (!dprintf_function)
+      if (dprintf_function.empty ())
 	error (_("No function supplied for dprintf call"));
 
-      if (dprintf_channel && strlen (dprintf_channel) > 0)
+      if (!dprintf_channel.empty ())
 	printf_line = xstrprintf ("call (void) %s (%s,%s)",
-				  dprintf_function,
-				  dprintf_channel,
+				  dprintf_function.c_str (),
+				  dprintf_channel.c_str (),
 				  dprintf_args);
       else
 	printf_line = xstrprintf ("call (void) %s (%s)",
-				  dprintf_function,
+				  dprintf_function.c_str (),
 				  dprintf_args);
     }
   else if (strcmp (dprintf_style, dprintf_style_agent) == 0)
@@ -15116,8 +15116,8 @@  save_breakpoints (const char *filename, int from_tty,
 	}
     }
 
-  if (extra_trace_bits && *default_collect)
-    fp.printf ("set default-collect %s\n", default_collect);
+  if (extra_trace_bits && !default_collect.empty ())
+    fp.printf ("set default-collect %s\n", default_collect.c_str ());
 
   if (from_tty)
     printf_filtered (_("Saved to file '%s'.\n"), expanded_filename.get ());
@@ -16028,7 +16028,6 @@  output stream by setting dprintf-function and dprintf-channel."),
 			update_dprintf_commands, NULL,
 			&setlist, &showlist);
 
-  dprintf_function = xstrdup ("printf");
   add_setshow_string_cmd ("dprintf-function", class_support,
 			  &dprintf_function, _("\
 Set the function to use for dynamic printf."), _("\
@@ -16036,7 +16035,6 @@  Show the function to use for dynamic printf."), NULL,
 			  update_dprintf_commands, NULL,
 			  &setlist, &showlist);
 
-  dprintf_channel = xstrdup ("");
   add_setshow_string_cmd ("dprintf-channel", class_support,
 			  &dprintf_channel, _("\
 Set the channel to use for dynamic printf."), _("\
diff --git a/gdb/build-id.c b/gdb/build-id.c
index d2f2576d96d9..553d6cec3d21 100644
--- a/gdb/build-id.c
+++ b/gdb/build-id.c
@@ -130,7 +130,7 @@  build_id_to_bfd_suffix (size_t build_id_len, const bfd_byte *build_id,
      cause "/.build-id/..." lookups.  */
 
   std::vector<gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char>> debugdir_vec
-    = dirnames_to_char_ptr_vec (debug_file_directory);
+    = dirnames_to_char_ptr_vec (debug_file_directory.c_str ());
 
   for (const gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> &debugdir : debugdir_vec)
     {
@@ -167,7 +167,7 @@  build_id_to_bfd_suffix (size_t build_id_len, const bfd_byte *build_id,
 	 Don't do it if the sysroot is the target system ("target:").  It
 	 could work in theory, but the lrealpath in build_id_to_debug_bfd_1
 	 only works with local paths.  */
-      if (strcmp (gdb_sysroot, TARGET_SYSROOT_PREFIX) != 0)
+      if (gdb_sysroot != TARGET_SYSROOT_PREFIX)
 	{
 	  link = gdb_sysroot + link;
 	  debug_bfd = build_id_to_debug_bfd_1 (link, build_id_len, build_id);
diff --git a/gdb/cli/cli-cmds.c b/gdb/cli/cli-cmds.c
index a6b7ef637ab3..097ed321ab44 100644
--- a/gdb/cli/cli-cmds.c
+++ b/gdb/cli/cli-cmds.c
@@ -645,7 +645,7 @@  find_and_open_script (const char *script_file, int search_path)
   /* Search for and open 'file' on the search path used for source
      files.  Put the full location in *FULL_PATHP.  */
   gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> full_path;
-  fd = openp (source_path, search_flags,
+  fd = openp (source_path.c_str (), search_flags,
 	      file.get (), O_RDONLY, &full_path);
 
   if (fd == -1)
@@ -1037,12 +1037,7 @@  edit_command (const char *arg, int from_tty)
 struct pipe_cmd_opts
 {
   /* For "-d".  */
-  char *delimiter = nullptr;
-
-  ~pipe_cmd_opts ()
-  {
-    xfree (delimiter);
-  }
+  std::string delimiter;
 };
 
 static const gdb::option::option_def pipe_cmd_option_defs[] = {
@@ -1079,8 +1074,8 @@  pipe_command (const char *arg, int from_tty)
     (&arg, gdb::option::PROCESS_OPTIONS_UNKNOWN_IS_OPERAND, grp);
 
   const char *delim = "|";
-  if (opts.delimiter != nullptr)
-    delim = opts.delimiter;
+  if (!opts.delimiter.empty ())
+    delim = opts.delimiter.c_str ();
 
   const char *command = arg;
   if (command == nullptr)
@@ -1143,8 +1138,8 @@  pipe_command_completer (struct cmd_list_element *ignore,
     return;
 
   const char *delimiter = "|";
-  if (opts.delimiter != nullptr)
-    delimiter = opts.delimiter;
+  if (!opts.delimiter.empty ())
+    delimiter = opts.delimiter.c_str ();
 
   /* Check if we're past option values already.  */
   if (text > org_text && !isspace (text[-1]))
@@ -2144,13 +2139,9 @@  value_from_setting (const cmd_list_element *cmd, struct gdbarch *gdbarch)
     case var_string_noescape:
     case var_optional_filename:
     case var_filename:
-      if (*cmd->var->char_ptr_var != nullptr)
-	return value_cstring (*cmd->var->char_ptr_var,
-			      strlen (*cmd->var->char_ptr_var) + 1,
-			      builtin_type (gdbarch)->builtin_char);
-      else
-	return value_cstring ("", 1,
-			      builtin_type (gdbarch)->builtin_char);
+      return value_cstring (cmd->var->string_var->c_str (),
+			    cmd->var->string_var->length () + 1,
+			    builtin_type (gdbarch)->builtin_char);
 
     case var_enum:
       if (*cmd->var->const_char_ptr_var != nullptr)
@@ -2219,13 +2210,9 @@  str_value_from_setting (const cmd_list_element *cmd, struct gdbarch *gdbarch)
 	 as this function handle some characters specially, e.g. by
 	 escaping quotes.  So, we directly use the cmd->var string value,
 	 similarly to the value_from_setting code for these cases.  */
-      if (*cmd->var->char_ptr_var)
-	return value_cstring (*cmd->var->char_ptr_var,
-			      strlen (*cmd->var->char_ptr_var) + 1,
-			      builtin_type (gdbarch)->builtin_char);
-      else
-	return value_cstring ("", 1,
-			      builtin_type (gdbarch)->builtin_char);
+      return value_cstring (cmd->var->string_var->c_str (),
+			    cmd->var->string_var->length () + 1,
+			    builtin_type (gdbarch)->builtin_char);
 
     case var_enum:
       if (*cmd->var->const_char_ptr_var)
diff --git a/gdb/cli/cli-decode.c b/gdb/cli/cli-decode.c
index 2db3ddc0551b..78930831736c 100644
--- a/gdb/cli/cli-decode.c
+++ b/gdb/cli/cli-decode.c
@@ -637,7 +637,7 @@  add_setshow_boolean_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass, bool *va
 
 set_show_commands
 add_setshow_filename_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
-			  char **var,
+			  std::string *var,
 			  const char *set_doc, const char *show_doc,
 			  const char *help_doc,
 			  cmd_func_ftype *set_func,
@@ -654,9 +654,9 @@  add_setshow_filename_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
   set_cmd_completer (commands.set, filename_completer);
 
   commands.set->var.emplace ();
-  commands.set->var->char_ptr_var = var;
+  commands.set->var->string_var = var;
   commands.show->var.emplace ();
-  commands.show->var->char_ptr_var = var;
+  commands.show->var->string_var = var;
 
   return commands;
 }
@@ -666,7 +666,7 @@  add_setshow_filename_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
 
 set_show_commands
 add_setshow_string_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
-			char **var,
+			std::string *var,
 			const char *set_doc, const char *show_doc,
 			const char *help_doc,
 			cmd_func_ftype *set_func,
@@ -684,9 +684,9 @@  add_setshow_string_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
   set_cmd_completer (commands.set, nullptr);
 
   commands.set->var.emplace ();
-  commands.set->var->char_ptr_var = var;
+  commands.set->var->string_var = var;
   commands.show->var.emplace ();
-  commands.show->var->char_ptr_var = var;
+  commands.show->var->string_var = var;
 
   return commands;
 }
@@ -696,7 +696,7 @@  add_setshow_string_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
 
 set_show_commands
 add_setshow_string_noescape_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
-				 char **var,
+				 std::string *var,
 				 const char *set_doc, const char *show_doc,
 				 const char *help_doc,
 				 cmd_func_ftype *set_func,
@@ -714,9 +714,9 @@  add_setshow_string_noescape_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
   set_cmd_completer (commands.set, nullptr);
 
   commands.set->var.emplace ();
-  commands.set->var->char_ptr_var = var;
+  commands.set->var->string_var = var;
   commands.show->var.emplace ();
-  commands.show->var->char_ptr_var = var;
+  commands.show->var->string_var = var;
 
   return commands;
 }
@@ -726,7 +726,7 @@  add_setshow_string_noescape_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
 
 set_show_commands
 add_setshow_optional_filename_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass,
-				   char **var,
+				   std::string *var,
 				   const char *set_doc, const char *show_doc,
 				   const char *help_doc,
 				   cmd_func_ftype *set_func,
@@ -743,9 +743,9 @@  add_setshow_optional_filename_cmd (const char *name, enum command_class theclass
   set_cmd_completer (commands.set, filename_completer);
 
   commands.set->var.emplace ();
-  commands.set->var->char_ptr_var = var;
+  commands.set->var->string_var = var;
   commands.show->var.emplace ();
-  commands.show->var->char_ptr_var = var;
+  commands.show->var->string_var = var;
 
   return commands;
 }
diff --git a/gdb/cli/cli-decode.h b/gdb/cli/cli-decode.h
index ba07d6a69f17..64a1777e6e8e 100644
--- a/gdb/cli/cli-decode.h
+++ b/gdb/cli/cli-decode.h
@@ -249,7 +249,7 @@  struct cmd_list_element
 
     /* Used by var_filename, var_string, var_string_noescape and
        var_optional_filename.  */
-    char **char_ptr_var;
+    std::string *string_var;
 
     /* Used by var_enum.  */
     const char **const_char_ptr_var;
@@ -293,6 +293,18 @@  struct cmd_list_element
   void *m_context = nullptr;
 };
 
+/* Return true if a setting of type VAR_TYPE is backed by an std::string
+   variable.  */
+
+static inline bool
+var_type_uses_string (var_types var_type)
+{
+  return (var_type == var_string
+	  || var_type == var_string_noescape
+	  || var_type == var_optional_filename
+	  || var_type == var_filename);
+}
+
 /* Functions that implement commands about CLI commands.  */
 
 extern void help_cmd (const char *, struct ui_file *);
diff --git a/gdb/cli/cli-logging.c b/gdb/cli/cli-logging.c
index dfedd7599a2f..c9093520a71b 100644
--- a/gdb/cli/cli-logging.c
+++ b/gdb/cli/cli-logging.c
@@ -25,7 +25,7 @@ 
 
 static char *saved_filename;
 
-static char *logging_filename;
+static std::string logging_filename = "gdb.txt";
 static void
 show_logging_filename (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 		       struct cmd_list_element *c, const char *value)
@@ -102,7 +102,7 @@  handle_redirections (int from_tty)
     }
 
   stdio_file_up log (new no_terminal_escape_file ());
-  if (!log->open (logging_filename, logging_overwrite ? "w" : "a"))
+  if (!log->open (logging_filename.c_str (), logging_overwrite ? "w" : "a"))
     perror_with_name (_("set logging"));
 
   /* Redirects everything to gdb_stdout while this is running.  */
@@ -110,20 +110,20 @@  handle_redirections (int from_tty)
     {
       if (!logging_redirect)
 	fprintf_unfiltered (gdb_stdout, "Copying output to %s.\n",
-			    logging_filename);
+			    logging_filename.c_str ());
       else
 	fprintf_unfiltered (gdb_stdout, "Redirecting output to %s.\n",
-			    logging_filename);
+			    logging_filename.c_str ());
 
       if (!debug_redirect)
 	fprintf_unfiltered (gdb_stdout, "Copying debug output to %s.\n",
-			    logging_filename);
+			    logging_filename.c_str ());
       else
 	fprintf_unfiltered (gdb_stdout, "Redirecting debug output to %s.\n",
-			    logging_filename);
+			    logging_filename.c_str ());
     }
 
-  saved_filename = xstrdup (logging_filename);
+  saved_filename = xstrdup (logging_filename.c_str ());
 
   /* Let the interpreter do anything it needs.  */
   current_interp_set_logging (std::move (log), logging_redirect,
@@ -145,10 +145,8 @@  set_logging_on (const char *args, int from_tty)
   const char *rest = args;
 
   if (rest && *rest)
-    {
-      xfree (logging_filename);
-      logging_filename = xstrdup (rest);
-    }
+    logging_filename = rest;
+
   handle_redirections (from_tty);
 }
 
@@ -201,6 +199,7 @@  If debug redirect is on, debug will go only to the log file."),
 			   set_logging_redirect,
 			   show_logging_redirect,
 			   &set_logging_cmdlist, &show_logging_cmdlist);
+
   add_setshow_filename_cmd ("file", class_support, &logging_filename, _("\
 Set the current logfile."), _("\
 Show the current logfile."), _("\
@@ -212,6 +211,4 @@  The logfile is used when directing GDB's output."),
 	   _("Enable logging."), &set_logging_cmdlist);
   add_cmd ("off", class_support, set_logging_off,
 	   _("Disable logging."), &set_logging_cmdlist);
-
-  logging_filename = xstrdup ("gdb.txt");
 }
diff --git a/gdb/cli/cli-option.c b/gdb/cli/cli-option.c
index ab76f194c3d9..846b8198985f 100644
--- a/gdb/cli/cli-option.c
+++ b/gdb/cli/cli-option.c
@@ -45,7 +45,7 @@  union option_value
   const char *enumeration;
 
   /* For var_string options.  This is malloc-allocated.  */
-  char *string;
+  std::string *string;
 };
 
 /* Holds an options definition and its value.  */
@@ -87,7 +87,7 @@  struct option_def_and_value
     if (value.has_value ())
       {
 	if (option.type == var_string)
-	  xfree (value->string);
+	  delete value->string;
       }
   }
 
@@ -439,7 +439,7 @@  parse_option (gdb::array_view<const option_def_group> options_group,
 	  error (_("-%s requires an argument"), match->name);
 
 	option_value val;
-	val.string = xstrdup (str.c_str ());
+	val.string = new std::string (std::move (str));
 	return option_def_and_value {*match, match_ctx, val};
       }
 
@@ -603,8 +603,7 @@  save_option_value_in_ctx (gdb::optional<option_def_and_value> &ov)
       break;
     case var_string:
       *ov->option.var_address.string (ov->option, ov->ctx)
-	= ov->value->string;
-      ov->value->string = nullptr;
+	= std::move (*ov->value->string);
       break;
     default:
       gdb_assert_not_reached ("unhandled option type");
diff --git a/gdb/cli/cli-option.h b/gdb/cli/cli-option.h
index aa2ccbed5d01..b7ede4587485 100644
--- a/gdb/cli/cli-option.h
+++ b/gdb/cli/cli-option.h
@@ -86,7 +86,7 @@  struct option_def
       unsigned int *(*uinteger) (const option_def &, void *ctx);
       int *(*integer) (const option_def &, void *ctx);
       const char **(*enumeration) (const option_def &, void *ctx);
-      char **(*string) (const option_def &, void *ctx);
+      std::string *(*string) (const option_def &, void *ctx);
     }
   var_address;
 
@@ -268,7 +268,7 @@  template<typename Context>
 struct string_option_def : option_def
 {
   string_option_def (const char *long_option_,
-		     char **(*get_var_address_cb_) (Context *),
+		     std::string *(*get_var_address_cb_) (Context *),
 		     show_value_ftype *show_cmd_cb_,
 		     const char *set_doc_,
 		     const char *show_doc_ = nullptr,
diff --git a/gdb/cli/cli-setshow.c b/gdb/cli/cli-setshow.c
index 8f456b6fc14b..7bff83c536d7 100644
--- a/gdb/cli/cli-setshow.c
+++ b/gdb/cli/cli-setshow.c
@@ -21,6 +21,7 @@ 
 #include <ctype.h>
 #include "arch-utils.h"
 #include "observable.h"
+#include "gdbsupport/gdb_tilde_expand.h"
 
 #include "ui-out.h"
 
@@ -353,24 +354,19 @@  do_set_command (const char *arg, int from_tty, struct cmd_list_element *c)
 	*q++ = '\0';
 	newobj = (char *) xrealloc (newobj, q - newobj);
 
-	if (*c->var->char_ptr_var == NULL
-	    || strcmp (*c->var->char_ptr_var, newobj) != 0)
+	if (*c->var->string_var != newobj)
 	  {
-	    xfree (*c->var->char_ptr_var);
-	    *c->var->char_ptr_var = newobj;
-
+	    *c->var->string_var = newobj;
 	    option_changed = 1;
 	  }
-	else
-	  xfree (newobj);
+
+	xfree (newobj);
       }
       break;
     case var_string_noescape:
-      if (*c->var->char_ptr_var == NULL || strcmp (*c->var->char_ptr_var, arg) != 0)
+      if (*c->var->string_var != arg)
 	{
-	  xfree (*c->var->char_ptr_var);
-	  *c->var->char_ptr_var = xstrdup (arg);
-
+	  *c->var->string_var = arg;
 	  option_changed = 1;
 	}
       break;
@@ -380,7 +376,7 @@  do_set_command (const char *arg, int from_tty, struct cmd_list_element *c)
       /* FALLTHROUGH */
     case var_optional_filename:
       {
-	char *val = NULL;
+	std::string val;
 
 	if (*arg != '\0')
 	  {
@@ -392,22 +388,15 @@  do_set_command (const char *arg, int from_tty, struct cmd_list_element *c)
 	      ptr--;
 	    copy = xstrndup (arg, ptr + 1 - arg);
 
-	    val = tilde_expand (copy);
+	    val = gdb_tilde_expand (copy);
 	    xfree (copy);
 	  }
-	else
-	  val = xstrdup ("");
 
-	if (*c->var->char_ptr_var == NULL
-	    || strcmp (*c->var->char_ptr_var, val) != 0)
+	if (*c->var->string_var != val)
 	  {
-	    xfree (*c->var->char_ptr_var);
-	    *c->var->char_ptr_var = val;
-
+	    *c->var->string_var = std::move (val);
 	    option_changed = 1;
 	  }
-	else
-	  xfree (val);
       }
       break;
     case var_boolean:
@@ -585,7 +574,7 @@  do_set_command (const char *arg, int from_tty, struct cmd_list_element *c)
 	case var_filename:
 	case var_optional_filename:
 	  gdb::observers::command_param_changed.notify
-	    (name, *c->var->char_ptr_var);
+	    (name, c->var->string_var->c_str ());
 	  break;
 	case var_enum:
 	  gdb::observers::command_param_changed.notify
@@ -639,14 +628,12 @@  get_setshow_command_value_string (const cmd_list_element *c)
   switch (c->var_type)
     {
     case var_string:
-      if (*c->var->char_ptr_var)
-	stb.putstr (*c->var->char_ptr_var, '"');
+      stb.putstr (c->var->string_var->c_str (), '"');
       break;
     case var_string_noescape:
     case var_optional_filename:
     case var_filename:
-      if (*c->var->char_ptr_var)
-	stb.puts (*c->var->char_ptr_var);
+      stb.puts (c->var->string_var->c_str ());
       break;
     case var_enum:
       if (*c->var->const_char_ptr_var)
diff --git a/gdb/command.h b/gdb/command.h
index baf34401a070..acf4427f8e82 100644
--- a/gdb/command.h
+++ b/gdb/command.h
@@ -419,28 +419,28 @@  extern set_show_commands add_setshow_boolean_cmd
    cmd_list_element **show_list);
 
 extern set_show_commands add_setshow_filename_cmd
-  (const char *name, command_class theclass, char **var, const char *set_doc,
-   const char *show_doc, const char *help_doc, cmd_func_ftype *set_func,
-   show_value_ftype *show_func, cmd_list_element **set_list,
-   cmd_list_element **show_list);
+  (const char *name, command_class theclass, std::string *var,
+   const char *set_doc, const char *show_doc, const char *help_doc,
+   cmd_func_ftype *set_func, show_value_ftype *show_func,
+   cmd_list_element **set_list, cmd_list_element **show_list);
 
 extern set_show_commands add_setshow_string_cmd
-  (const char *name, command_class theclass, char **var, const char *set_doc,
-   const char *show_doc, const char *help_doc, cmd_func_ftype *set_func,
-   show_value_ftype *show_func, cmd_list_element **set_list,
-   cmd_list_element **show_list);
+  (const char *name, command_class theclass, std::string *var,
+   const char *set_doc, const char *show_doc, const char *help_doc,
+   cmd_func_ftype *set_func, show_value_ftype *show_func,
+   cmd_list_element **set_list,cmd_list_element **show_list);
 
 extern set_show_commands add_setshow_string_noescape_cmd
-  (const char *name, command_class theclass, char **var, const char *set_doc,
-   const char *show_doc, const char *help_doc, cmd_func_ftype *set_func,
-   show_value_ftype *show_func, cmd_list_element **set_list,
-   cmd_list_element **show_list);
+  (const char *name, command_class theclass, std::string *var,
+   const char *set_doc, const char *show_doc, const char *help_doc,
+   cmd_func_ftype *set_func,show_value_ftype *show_func,
+   cmd_list_element **set_list, cmd_list_element **show_list);
 
 extern set_show_commands add_setshow_optional_filename_cmd
-  (const char *name, command_class theclass, char **var, const char *set_doc,
-   const char *show_doc, const char *help_doc, cmd_func_ftype *set_func,
-   show_value_ftype *show_func, cmd_list_element **set_list,
-   cmd_list_element **show_list);
+  (const char *name, command_class theclass, std::string *var,
+   const char *set_doc, const char *show_doc, const char *help_doc,
+   cmd_func_ftype *set_func, show_value_ftype *show_func,
+   cmd_list_element **set_list, cmd_list_element **show_list);
 
 extern set_show_commands add_setshow_integer_cmd
   (const char *name, command_class theclass, int *var, const char *set_doc,
diff --git a/gdb/compile/compile.c b/gdb/compile/compile.c
index e815348ff078..25cfd283b333 100644
--- a/gdb/compile/compile.c
+++ b/gdb/compile/compile.c
@@ -495,7 +495,22 @@  get_expr_block_and_pc (CORE_ADDR *pc)
 }
 
 /* String for 'set compile-args' and 'show compile-args'.  */
-static char *compile_args;
+static std::string compile_args =
+  /* Override flags possibly coming from DW_AT_producer.  */
+  "-O0 -gdwarf-4"
+  /* We use -fPIE Otherwise GDB would need to reserve space large enough for
+     any object file in the inferior in advance to get the final address when
+     to link the object file to and additionally the default system linker
+     script would need to be modified so that one can specify there the
+     absolute target address.
+     -fPIC is not used at is would require from GDB to generate .got.  */
+  " -fPIE"
+  /* We want warnings, except for some commonly happening for GDB commands.  */
+  " -Wall "
+  " -Wno-unused-but-set-variable"
+  " -Wno-unused-variable"
+  /* Override CU's possible -fstack-protector-strong.  */
+  " -fno-stack-protector";
 
 /* Parsed form of COMPILE_ARGS.  */
 static gdb_argv compile_args_argv;
@@ -505,7 +520,7 @@  static gdb_argv compile_args_argv;
 static void
 set_compile_args (const char *args, int from_tty, struct cmd_list_element *c)
 {
-  compile_args_argv = gdb_argv (compile_args);
+  compile_args_argv = gdb_argv (compile_args.c_str ());
 }
 
 /* Implement 'show compile-args'.  */
@@ -520,7 +535,7 @@  show_compile_args (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 }
 
 /* String for 'set compile-gcc' and 'show compile-gcc'.  */
-static char *compile_gcc;
+static std::string compile_gcc;
 
 /* Implement 'show compile-gcc'.  */
 
@@ -696,13 +711,13 @@  compile_to_object (struct command_line *cmd, const char *cmd_string,
 
   compiler->set_verbose (compile_debug);
 
-  if (compile_gcc[0] != 0)
+  if (!compile_gcc.empty ())
     {
       if (compiler->version () < GCC_FE_VERSION_1)
 	error (_("Command 'set compile-gcc' requires GCC version 6 or higher "
 		 "(libcc1 interface version 1 or higher)"));
 
-      compiler->set_driver_filename (compile_gcc);
+      compiler->set_driver_filename (compile_gcc.c_str ());
     }
   else
     {
@@ -1029,23 +1044,9 @@  String quoting is parsed like in shell, for example:\n\
   -mno-align-double \"-I/dir with a space/include\""),
 			  set_compile_args, show_compile_args, &setlist, &showlist);
 
-  /* Override flags possibly coming from DW_AT_producer.  */
-  compile_args = xstrdup ("-O0 -gdwarf-4"
-  /* We use -fPIE Otherwise GDB would need to reserve space large enough for
-     any object file in the inferior in advance to get the final address when
-     to link the object file to and additionally the default system linker
-     script would need to be modified so that one can specify there the
-     absolute target address.
-     -fPIC is not used at is would require from GDB to generate .got.  */
-			 " -fPIE"
-  /* We want warnings, except for some commonly happening for GDB commands.  */
-			 " -Wall "
-			 " -Wno-unused-but-set-variable"
-			 " -Wno-unused-variable"
-  /* Override CU's possible -fstack-protector-strong.  */
-			 " -fno-stack-protector"
-  );
-  set_compile_args (compile_args, 0, NULL);
+
+  /* Initialize compile_args_argv.  */
+  set_compile_args (compile_args.c_str (), 0, NULL);
 
   add_setshow_optional_filename_cmd ("compile-gcc", class_support,
 				     &compile_gcc,
@@ -1058,5 +1059,4 @@  It should be absolute filename of the gcc executable.\n\
 If empty the default target triplet will be searched in $PATH."),
 				     NULL, show_compile_gcc, &setlist,
 				     &showlist);
-  compile_gcc = xstrdup ("");
 }
diff --git a/gdb/corefile.c b/gdb/corefile.c
index ff2494738b0d..4b1451487e28 100644
--- a/gdb/corefile.c
+++ b/gdb/corefile.c
@@ -395,7 +395,7 @@  write_memory_signed_integer (CORE_ADDR addr, int len,
 const char *gnutarget;
 
 /* Same thing, except it is "auto" not NULL for the default case.  */
-static char *gnutarget_string;
+static std::string gnutarget_string;
 static void
 show_gnutarget_string (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 		       struct cmd_list_element *c,
@@ -409,15 +409,15 @@  static void
 set_gnutarget_command (const char *ignore, int from_tty,
 		       struct cmd_list_element *c)
 {
-  char *gend = gnutarget_string + strlen (gnutarget_string);
+  const char *gend = gnutarget_string.c_str () + gnutarget_string.size ();
+  gend = remove_trailing_whitespace (gnutarget_string.c_str (), gend);
+  gnutarget_string
+    = gnutarget_string.substr (0, gend - gnutarget_string.data ());
 
-  gend = remove_trailing_whitespace (gnutarget_string, gend);
-  *gend = '\0';
-
-  if (strcmp (gnutarget_string, "auto") == 0)
+  if (gnutarget_string == "auto")
     gnutarget = NULL;
   else
-    gnutarget = gnutarget_string;
+    gnutarget = gnutarget_string.c_str ();
 }
 
 /* A completion function for "set gnutarget".  */
@@ -449,8 +449,7 @@  complete_set_gnutarget (struct cmd_list_element *cmd,
 void
 set_gnutarget (const char *newtarget)
 {
-  xfree (gnutarget_string);
-  gnutarget_string = xstrdup (newtarget);
+  gnutarget_string = newtarget;
   set_gnutarget_command (NULL, 0, NULL);
 }
 
diff --git a/gdb/defs.h b/gdb/defs.h
index 6dea4099554c..f7e09eca9db1 100644
--- a/gdb/defs.h
+++ b/gdb/defs.h
@@ -121,7 +121,7 @@  using RequireLongest = gdb::Requires<gdb::Or<std::is_same<T, LONGEST>,
 extern int dbx_commands;
 
 /* * System root path, used to find libraries etc.  */
-extern char *gdb_sysroot;
+extern std::string gdb_sysroot;
 
 /* * GDB datadir, used to store data files.  */
 extern std::string gdb_datadir;
@@ -131,7 +131,7 @@  extern std::string gdb_datadir;
 extern std::string python_libdir;
 
 /* * Search path for separate debug files.  */
-extern char *debug_file_directory;
+extern std::string debug_file_directory;
 
 /* GDB's SIGINT handler basically sets a flag; code that might take a
    long time before it gets back to the event loop, and which ought to
diff --git a/gdb/disasm.c b/gdb/disasm.c
index 7f730f681887..c788f5b618c3 100644
--- a/gdb/disasm.c
+++ b/gdb/disasm.c
@@ -39,7 +39,7 @@ 
 
 /* This variable is used to hold the prospective disassembler_options value
    which is set by the "set disassembler_options" command.  */
-static char *prospective_options = NULL;
+static std::string prospective_options;
 
 /* This structure is used to store line number information for the
    deprecated /m option.
@@ -928,13 +928,16 @@  get_disassembler_options (struct gdbarch *gdbarch)
 }
 
 void
-set_disassembler_options (char *prospective_options)
+set_disassembler_options (const char *prospective_options)
 {
   struct gdbarch *gdbarch = get_current_arch ();
   char **disassembler_options = gdbarch_disassembler_options (gdbarch);
   const disasm_options_and_args_t *valid_options_and_args;
   const disasm_options_t *valid_options;
-  char *options = remove_whitespace_and_extra_commas (prospective_options);
+  gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> prospective_options_local
+    = make_unique_xstrdup (prospective_options);
+  char *options = remove_whitespace_and_extra_commas
+    (prospective_options_local.get ());
   const char *opt;
 
   /* Allow all architectures, even ones that do not support 'set disassembler',
@@ -1003,7 +1006,7 @@  static void
 set_disassembler_options_sfunc (const char *args, int from_tty,
 				struct cmd_list_element *c)
 {
-  set_disassembler_options (prospective_options);
+  set_disassembler_options (prospective_options.c_str ());
 }
 
 static void
diff --git a/gdb/disasm.h b/gdb/disasm.h
index eb82bc3cd018..6cbfdcd4f6b6 100644
--- a/gdb/disasm.h
+++ b/gdb/disasm.h
@@ -164,6 +164,6 @@  extern char *get_disassembler_options (struct gdbarch *gdbarch);
 
 /* Sets the active gdbarch's disassembler options to OPTIONS.  */
 
-extern void set_disassembler_options (char *options);
+extern void set_disassembler_options (const char *options);
 
 #endif
diff --git a/gdb/dwarf2/dwz.c b/gdb/dwarf2/dwz.c
index f9d5db6b48a6..5e963d5b47a6 100644
--- a/gdb/dwarf2/dwz.c
+++ b/gdb/dwarf2/dwz.c
@@ -118,7 +118,7 @@  dwz_search_other_debugdirs (std::string &filename, bfd_byte *buildid,
 
   gdb_bfd_ref_ptr dwz_bfd;
   std::vector<gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char>> debugdir_vec
-    = dirnames_to_char_ptr_vec (debug_file_directory);
+    = dirnames_to_char_ptr_vec (debug_file_directory.c_str ());
 
   for (const gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> &debugdir : debugdir_vec)
     {
diff --git a/gdb/dwarf2/index-cache.c b/gdb/dwarf2/index-cache.c
index c3decf16ead6..f439b37db5ae 100644
--- a/gdb/dwarf2/index-cache.c
+++ b/gdb/dwarf2/index-cache.c
@@ -37,7 +37,7 @@ 
 static bool debug_index_cache = false;
 
 /* The index cache directory, used for "set/show index-cache directory".  */
-static char *index_cache_directory = NULL;
+static std::string index_cache_directory;
 
 /* See dwarf-index.cache.h.  */
 index_cache global_index_cache;
@@ -290,9 +290,9 @@  set_index_cache_directory_command (const char *arg, int from_tty,
 				   cmd_list_element *element)
 {
   /* Make sure the index cache directory is absolute and tilde-expanded.  */
-  gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> abs (gdb_abspath (index_cache_directory));
-  xfree (index_cache_directory);
-  index_cache_directory = abs.release ();
+  gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> abs
+    = gdb_abspath (index_cache_directory.c_str ());
+  index_cache_directory = abs.get ();
   global_index_cache.set_directory (index_cache_directory);
 }
 
@@ -325,7 +325,7 @@  _initialize_index_cache ()
   std::string cache_dir = get_standard_cache_dir ();
   if (!cache_dir.empty ())
     {
-      index_cache_directory = xstrdup (cache_dir.c_str ());
+      index_cache_directory = cache_dir;
       global_index_cache.set_directory (std::move (cache_dir));
     }
   else
diff --git a/gdb/dwarf2/read.c b/gdb/dwarf2/read.c
index 9292e52c0001..76a40ea36988 100644
--- a/gdb/dwarf2/read.c
+++ b/gdb/dwarf2/read.c
@@ -12016,10 +12016,10 @@  try_open_dwop_file (dwarf2_per_objfile *per_objfile,
   gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> search_path_holder;
   if (search_cwd)
     {
-      if (*debug_file_directory != '\0')
+      if (!debug_file_directory.empty ())
 	{
 	  search_path_holder.reset (concat (".", dirname_separator_string,
-					    debug_file_directory,
+					    debug_file_directory.c_str (),
 					    (char *) NULL));
 	  search_path = search_path_holder.get ();
 	}
@@ -12027,7 +12027,7 @@  try_open_dwop_file (dwarf2_per_objfile *per_objfile,
 	search_path = ".";
     }
   else
-    search_path = debug_file_directory;
+    search_path = debug_file_directory.c_str ();
 
   /* Add the path for the executable binary to the list of search paths.  */
   std::string objfile_dir = ldirname (objfile_name (per_objfile->objfile));
@@ -12098,7 +12098,7 @@  open_dwo_file (dwarf2_per_objfile *per_objfile,
   /* That didn't work, try debug-file-directory, which, despite its name,
      is a list of paths.  */
 
-  if (*debug_file_directory == '\0')
+  if (debug_file_directory.empty ())
     return NULL;
 
   return try_open_dwop_file (per_objfile, file_name,
@@ -12427,7 +12427,7 @@  open_dwp_file (dwarf2_per_objfile *per_objfile, const char *file_name)
      [IWBN if the dwp file name was recorded in the executable, akin to
      .gnu_debuglink, but that doesn't exist yet.]
      Strip the directory from FILE_NAME and search again.  */
-  if (*debug_file_directory != '\0')
+  if (!debug_file_directory.empty ())
     {
       /* Don't implicitly search the current directory here.
 	 If the user wants to search "." to handle this case,
diff --git a/gdb/event-top.c b/gdb/event-top.c
index 002a7dc95e06..31e2e4dfb1a7 100644
--- a/gdb/event-top.c
+++ b/gdb/event-top.c
@@ -428,13 +428,11 @@  display_gdb_prompt (const char *new_prompt)
 static std::string
 top_level_prompt (void)
 {
-  char *prompt;
-
   /* Give observers a chance of changing the prompt.  E.g., the python
      `gdb.prompt_hook' is installed as an observer.  */
-  gdb::observers::before_prompt.notify (get_prompt ());
+  gdb::observers::before_prompt.notify (get_prompt ().c_str ());
 
-  prompt = get_prompt ();
+  const std::string &prompt = get_prompt ();
 
   if (annotation_level >= 2)
     {
@@ -445,7 +443,7 @@  top_level_prompt (void)
 	 beginning.  */
       const char suffix[] = "\n\032\032prompt\n";
 
-      return std::string (prefix) + prompt + suffix;
+      return std::string (prefix) + prompt.c_str () + suffix;
     }
 
   return prompt;
@@ -1174,7 +1172,7 @@  handle_sigtstp (int sig)
 static void
 async_sigtstp_handler (gdb_client_data arg)
 {
-  char *prompt = get_prompt ();
+  const std::string &prompt = get_prompt ();
 
   signal (SIGTSTP, SIG_DFL);
 #if HAVE_SIGPROCMASK
@@ -1189,7 +1187,7 @@  async_sigtstp_handler (gdb_client_data arg)
 #endif
   raise (SIGTSTP);
   signal (SIGTSTP, handle_sigtstp);
-  printf_unfiltered ("%s", prompt);
+  printf_unfiltered ("%s", prompt.c_str ());
   gdb_flush (gdb_stdout);
 
   /* Forget about any previous command -- null line now will do
diff --git a/gdb/fork-child.c b/gdb/fork-child.c
index 3ce7d64b8554..3e995ed6f654 100644
--- a/gdb/fork-child.c
+++ b/gdb/fork-child.c
@@ -33,14 +33,14 @@ 
 /* The exec-wrapper, if any, that will be used when starting the
    inferior.  */
 
-static char *exec_wrapper = NULL;
+static std::string exec_wrapper;
 
 /* See gdbsupport/common-inferior.h.  */
 
 const char *
 get_exec_wrapper ()
 {
-  return exec_wrapper;
+  return !exec_wrapper.empty () ? exec_wrapper.c_str () : nullptr;
 }
 
 /* See nat/fork-inferior.h.  */
@@ -139,8 +139,7 @@  gdb_startup_inferior (pid_t pid, int num_traps)
 static void
 unset_exec_wrapper_command (const char *args, int from_tty)
 {
-  xfree (exec_wrapper);
-  exec_wrapper = NULL;
+  exec_wrapper.clear ();
 }
 
 static void
diff --git a/gdb/guile/scm-param.c b/gdb/guile/scm-param.c
index 57a8c7ec68a2..eb9a4936990a 100644
--- a/gdb/guile/scm-param.c
+++ b/gdb/guile/scm-param.c
@@ -44,7 +44,7 @@  union pascm_variable
   unsigned int uintval;
 
   /* Hold a string, for the various string types.  */
-  char *stringval;
+  std::string *stringval;
 
   /* Hold a string, for enums.  */
   const char *cstringval;
@@ -57,10 +57,7 @@  union pascm_variable
    2) Call register-parameter! to add the parameter to gdb.
    It is done this way so that the constructor, make-parameter, doesn't have
    any side-effects.  This means that the smob needs to store everything
-   that was passed to make-parameter.
-
-   N.B. There is no free function for this smob.
-   All objects pointed to by this smob must live in GC space.  */
+   that was passed to make-parameter.  */
 
 struct param_smob
 {
@@ -410,14 +407,14 @@  add_setshow_generic (enum var_types param_type, enum command_class cmd_class,
 
     case var_string:
       commands = add_setshow_string_cmd (cmd_name, cmd_class,
-					 &self->value.stringval, set_doc,
+					 self->value.stringval, set_doc,
 					 show_doc, help_doc, set_func,
 					 show_func, set_list, show_list);
       break;
 
     case var_string_noescape:
       commands = add_setshow_string_noescape_cmd (cmd_name, cmd_class,
-						  &self->value.stringval,
+						  self->value.stringval,
 						  set_doc, show_doc, help_doc,
 						  set_func, show_func, set_list,
 						  show_list);
@@ -426,7 +423,7 @@  add_setshow_generic (enum var_types param_type, enum command_class cmd_class,
 
     case var_optional_filename:
       commands = add_setshow_optional_filename_cmd (cmd_name, cmd_class,
-						    &self->value.stringval,
+						    self->value.stringval,
 						    set_doc, show_doc, help_doc,
 						    set_func, show_func,
 						    set_list, show_list);
@@ -434,7 +431,7 @@  add_setshow_generic (enum var_types param_type, enum command_class cmd_class,
 
     case var_filename:
       commands = add_setshow_filename_cmd (cmd_name, cmd_class,
-					   &self->value.stringval, set_doc,
+					   self->value.stringval, set_doc,
 					   show_doc, help_doc, set_func,
 					   show_func, set_list, show_list);
       break;
@@ -584,12 +581,8 @@  pascm_param_value (enum var_types type, const pascm_variable *param_value,
     case var_optional_filename:
     case var_filename:
       {
-	const char *str = param_value->stringval;
-
-	if (str == NULL)
-	  str = "";
-
-	return gdbscm_scm_from_host_string (str, strlen (str));
+	const std::string &s = *param_value->stringval;
+	return gdbscm_scm_from_host_string (s.data (), s.size ());
       }
 
     case var_enum:
@@ -669,12 +662,8 @@  pascm_param_value (const cmd_list_element *show_cmd,
     case var_optional_filename:
     case var_filename:
       {
-	const char *str = *show_cmd->var->char_ptr_var;
-
-	if (str == NULL)
-	  str = "";
-
-	return gdbscm_scm_from_host_string (str, strlen (str));
+	const std::string &s = *show_cmd->var->string_var;
+	return gdbscm_scm_from_host_string (s.data (), s.size ());
       }
 
     case var_enum:
@@ -752,13 +741,7 @@  pascm_set_param_value_x (enum var_types type, union pascm_variable *var,
 		       value, arg_pos, func_name,
 		       _("string or #f for non-PARAM_FILENAME parameters"));
       if (gdbscm_is_false (value))
-	{
-	  xfree (var->stringval);
-	  if (type == var_optional_filename)
-	    var->stringval = xstrdup ("");
-	  else
-	    var->stringval = NULL;
-	}
+	var->stringval->clear ();
       else
 	{
 	  SCM exception;
@@ -767,8 +750,7 @@  pascm_set_param_value_x (enum var_types type, union pascm_variable *var,
 	    = gdbscm_scm_to_host_string (value, NULL, &exception);
 	  if (string == NULL)
 	    gdbscm_throw (exception);
-	  xfree (var->stringval);
-	  var->stringval = string.release ();
+	  *var->stringval = string.get ();
 	}
       break;
 
@@ -868,7 +850,23 @@  pascm_set_param_value_x (enum var_types type, union pascm_variable *var,
       gdb_assert_not_reached ("bad parameter type");
     }
 }
-
+
+/* Free function for a param_smob.  */
+
+static size_t
+pascm_free_parameter_smob (SCM self)
+{
+  param_smob *p_smob = (param_smob *) SCM_SMOB_DATA (self);
+
+  if (var_type_uses_string (p_smob->type))
+    {
+      delete p_smob->value.stringval;
+      p_smob->value.stringval = nullptr;
+    }
+
+  return 0;
+}
+
 /* Parameter Scheme functions.  */
 
 /* (make-parameter name
@@ -1024,6 +1022,11 @@  gdbscm_make_parameter (SCM name_scm, SCM rest)
   p_smob->set_func = set_func;
   p_smob->show_func = show_func;
 
+  scm_set_smob_free (parameter_smob_tag, pascm_free_parameter_smob);
+
+  if (var_type_uses_string (p_smob->type))
+    p_smob->value.stringval = new std::string;
+
   if (initial_value_arg_pos > 0)
     {
       if (gdbscm_is_procedure (initial_value_scm))
diff --git a/gdb/infcmd.c b/gdb/infcmd.c
index c183b60e81a8..35c97d0296f9 100644
--- a/gdb/infcmd.c
+++ b/gdb/infcmd.c
@@ -71,16 +71,16 @@  static void step_1 (int, int, const char *);
    Arguments are separated by spaces.  Empty string (pointer to '\0')
    means no args.  */
 
-static char *inferior_args_scratch;
+static std::string inferior_args_scratch;
 
 /* Scratch area where the new cwd will be stored by 'set cwd'.  */
 
-static char *inferior_cwd_scratch;
+static std::string inferior_cwd_scratch;
 
 /* Scratch area where 'set inferior-tty' will store user-provided value.
    We'll immediate copy it into per-inferior storage.  */
 
-static char *inferior_io_terminal_scratch;
+static std::string inferior_io_terminal_scratch;
 
 /* Pid of our debugged inferior, or 0 if no inferior now.
    Since various parts of infrun.c test this to see whether there is a program
@@ -2021,7 +2021,6 @@  path_info (const char *args, int from_tty)
 static void
 path_command (const char *dirname, int from_tty)
 {
-  char *exec_path;
   const char *env;
 
   dont_repeat ();
@@ -2029,10 +2028,9 @@  path_command (const char *dirname, int from_tty)
   /* Can be null if path is not set.  */
   if (!env)
     env = "";
-  exec_path = xstrdup (env);
-  mod_path (dirname, &exec_path);
-  current_inferior ()->environment.set (path_var_name, exec_path);
-  xfree (exec_path);
+  std::string exec_path = env;
+  mod_path (dirname, exec_path);
+  current_inferior ()->environment.set (path_var_name, exec_path.c_str ());
   if (from_tty)
     path_info (NULL, from_tty);
 }
diff --git a/gdb/linux-thread-db.c b/gdb/linux-thread-db.c
index 5b4e5a8654f9..0c9bc1a88899 100644
--- a/gdb/linux-thread-db.c
+++ b/gdb/linux-thread-db.c
@@ -110,7 +110,7 @@  class thread_db_target final : public target_ops
   gdb::byte_vector thread_info_to_thread_handle (struct thread_info *) override;
 };
 
-static char *libthread_db_search_path;
+static std::string libthread_db_search_path = LIBTHREAD_DB_SEARCH_PATH;
 
 /* Set to true if thread_db auto-loading is enabled
    by the "set auto-load libthread-db" command.  */
@@ -135,11 +135,8 @@  static void
 set_libthread_db_search_path (const char *ignored, int from_tty,
 			      struct cmd_list_element *c)
 {
-  if (*libthread_db_search_path == '\0')
-    {
-      xfree (libthread_db_search_path);
-      libthread_db_search_path = xstrdup (LIBTHREAD_DB_SEARCH_PATH);
-    }
+  if (libthread_db_search_path.empty ())
+    libthread_db_search_path = LIBTHREAD_DB_SEARCH_PATH;
 }
 
 /* If non-zero, print details of libthread_db processing.  */
@@ -942,7 +939,7 @@  try_thread_db_load_1 (struct thread_db_info *info)
 
   printf_unfiltered (_("[Thread debugging using libthread_db enabled]\n"));
 
-  if (*libthread_db_search_path || libthread_db_debug)
+  if (!libthread_db_search_path.empty () || libthread_db_debug)
     {
       struct ui_file *file;
       const char *library;
@@ -955,7 +952,7 @@  try_thread_db_load_1 (struct thread_db_info *info)
 	 disabled, still print it to gdb_stdout if debug output is
 	 enabled.  User visible output should not depend on debug
 	 settings.  */
-      file = *libthread_db_search_path != '\0' ? gdb_stdout : gdb_stdlog;
+      file = !libthread_db_search_path.empty () ? gdb_stdout : gdb_stdlog;
       fprintf_unfiltered (file,
 			  _("Using host libthread_db library \"%ps\".\n"),
 			  styled_string (file_name_style.style (), library));
@@ -1143,7 +1140,7 @@  thread_db_load_search (void)
   bool rc = false;
 
   std::vector<gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char>> dir_vec
-    = dirnames_to_char_ptr_vec (libthread_db_search_path);
+    = dirnames_to_char_ptr_vec (libthread_db_search_path.c_str ());
 
   for (const gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> &this_dir_up : dir_vec)
     {
@@ -2006,8 +2003,6 @@  _initialize_thread_db ()
      and until there is a running inferior, we can't tell which
      libthread_db is the correct one to load.  */
 
-  libthread_db_search_path = xstrdup (LIBTHREAD_DB_SEARCH_PATH);
-
   add_setshow_optional_filename_cmd ("libthread-db-search-path",
 				     class_support,
 				     &libthread_db_search_path, _("\
diff --git a/gdb/main.c b/gdb/main.c
index 5761ce2bdbef..ca4ccc375dc7 100644
--- a/gdb/main.c
+++ b/gdb/main.c
@@ -65,7 +65,7 @@  char *interpreter_p;
 int dbx_commands = 0;
 
 /* System root path, used to find libraries etc.  */
-char *gdb_sysroot = 0;
+std::string gdb_sysroot;
 
 /* GDB datadir, used to store data files.  */
 std::string gdb_datadir;
@@ -710,19 +710,14 @@  captured_main_1 (struct captured_main_args *context)
     perror_warning_with_name (_("error finding working directory"));
 
   /* Set the sysroot path.  */
-  gdb_sysroot
-    = xstrdup (relocate_gdb_directory (TARGET_SYSTEM_ROOT,
-				     TARGET_SYSTEM_ROOT_RELOCATABLE).c_str ());
+  gdb_sysroot = relocate_gdb_directory (TARGET_SYSTEM_ROOT,
+					TARGET_SYSTEM_ROOT_RELOCATABLE);
 
-  if (*gdb_sysroot == '\0')
-    {
-      xfree (gdb_sysroot);
-      gdb_sysroot = xstrdup (TARGET_SYSROOT_PREFIX);
-    }
+  if (gdb_sysroot.empty ())
+    gdb_sysroot = TARGET_SYSROOT_PREFIX;
 
   debug_file_directory
-    = xstrdup (relocate_gdb_directory (DEBUGDIR,
-				     DEBUGDIR_RELOCATABLE).c_str ());
+    = relocate_gdb_directory (DEBUGDIR, DEBUGDIR_RELOCATABLE);
 
   gdb_datadir = relocate_gdb_directory (GDB_DATADIR,
 					GDB_DATADIR_RELOCATABLE);
diff --git a/gdb/maint-test-options.c b/gdb/maint-test-options.c
index b773e759bb7c..77a013d3b7a2 100644
--- a/gdb/maint-test-options.c
+++ b/gdb/maint-test-options.c
@@ -133,17 +133,12 @@  struct test_options_opts
   const char *enum_opt = test_options_enum_values_xxx;
   unsigned int uint_opt = 0;
   int zuint_unl_opt = 0;
-  char *string_opt = nullptr;
+  std::string string_opt;
 
   test_options_opts () = default;
 
   DISABLE_COPY_AND_ASSIGN (test_options_opts);
 
-  ~test_options_opts ()
-  {
-    xfree (string_opt);
-  }
-
   /* Dump the options to FILE.  ARGS is the remainder unprocessed
      arguments.  */
   void dump (ui_file *file, const char *args) const
@@ -162,9 +157,7 @@  struct test_options_opts
 			(zuint_unl_opt == -1
 			 ? "unlimited"
 			 : plongest (zuint_unl_opt)),
-			(string_opt != nullptr
-			 ? string_opt
-			 : ""),
+			string_opt.c_str (),
 			args);
   }
 };
diff --git a/gdb/maint-test-settings.c b/gdb/maint-test-settings.c
index 0ce889055188..eea3ea995726 100644
--- a/gdb/maint-test-settings.c
+++ b/gdb/maint-test-settings.c
@@ -44,13 +44,13 @@  static unsigned int maintenance_test_settings_zuinteger;
 
 static int maintenance_test_settings_zuinteger_unlimited;
 
-static char *maintenance_test_settings_string;
+static std::string maintenance_test_settings_string;
 
-static char *maintenance_test_settings_string_noescape;
+static std::string maintenance_test_settings_string_noescape;
 
-static char *maintenance_test_settings_optional_filename;
+static std::string maintenance_test_settings_optional_filename;
 
-static char *maintenance_test_settings_filename;
+static std::string maintenance_test_settings_filename;
 
 /* Enum values for the "maintenance set/show test-settings boolean"
    commands.  */
diff --git a/gdb/mi/mi-cmd-env.c b/gdb/mi/mi-cmd-env.c
index 703c63251fd3..f9685a515ad9 100644
--- a/gdb/mi/mi-cmd-env.c
+++ b/gdb/mi/mi-cmd-env.c
@@ -93,7 +93,7 @@  mi_cmd_env_cd (const char *command, char **argv, int argc)
 }
 
 static void
-env_mod_path (const char *dirname, char **which_path)
+env_mod_path (const char *dirname, std::string &which_path)
 {
   if (dirname == 0 || dirname[0] == '\0')
     return;
@@ -109,7 +109,6 @@  void
 mi_cmd_env_path (const char *command, char **argv, int argc)
 {
   struct ui_out *uiout = current_uiout;
-  char *exec_path;
   const char *env;
   int reset = 0;
   int oind = 0;
@@ -152,11 +151,11 @@  mi_cmd_env_path (const char *command, char **argv, int argc)
   argv += oind;
   argc -= oind;
 
-
+  std::string exec_path;
   if (reset)
     {
       /* Reset implies resetting to original path first.  */
-      exec_path = xstrdup (orig_path);
+      exec_path = orig_path;
     }
   else
     {
@@ -166,14 +165,14 @@  mi_cmd_env_path (const char *command, char **argv, int argc)
       /* Can be null if path is not set.  */
       if (!env)
 	env = "";
-      exec_path = xstrdup (env);
+
+      exec_path = env;
     }
 
   for (i = argc - 1; i >= 0; --i)
-    env_mod_path (argv[i], &exec_path);
+    env_mod_path (argv[i], exec_path);
 
-  current_inferior ()->environment.set (path_var_name, exec_path);
-  xfree (exec_path);
+  current_inferior ()->environment.set (path_var_name, exec_path.c_str ());
   env = current_inferior ()->environment.get (path_var_name);
   uiout->field_string ("path", env);
 }
@@ -228,12 +227,11 @@  mi_cmd_env_dir (const char *command, char **argv, int argc)
   if (reset)
     {
       /* Reset means setting to default path first.  */
-      xfree (source_path);
       init_source_path ();
     }
 
   for (i = argc - 1; i >= 0; --i)
-    env_mod_path (argv[i], &source_path);
+    env_mod_path (argv[i], source_path);
 
   uiout->field_string ("source-path", source_path);
   forget_cached_source_info ();
diff --git a/gdb/proc-api.c b/gdb/proc-api.c
index 5f60eeeb129d..40bde7893bd8 100644
--- a/gdb/proc-api.c
+++ b/gdb/proc-api.c
@@ -50,14 +50,14 @@  struct trans {
 
 static bool  procfs_trace   = false;
 static FILE *procfs_file     = NULL;
-static char *procfs_filename;
+static std::string procfs_filename = "procfs_trace";
 
 static void
 prepare_to_trace (void)
 {
   if (procfs_trace)			/* if procfs tracing turned on */
     if (procfs_file == NULL)		/* if output file not yet open */
-      procfs_file = fopen (procfs_filename, "a");	/* open output file */
+      procfs_file = fopen (procfs_filename.c_str (), "a");	/* open output file */
 }
 
 static void
@@ -425,7 +425,6 @@  Show tracing for /proc api calls."), NULL,
 			   NULL, /* FIXME: i18n: */
 			   &setlist, &showlist);
 
-  procfs_filename = xstrdup ("procfs_trace");
   add_setshow_filename_cmd ("procfs-file", no_class, &procfs_filename, _("\
 Set filename for /proc tracefile."), _("\
 Show filename for /proc tracefile."), NULL,
diff --git a/gdb/python/py-param.c b/gdb/python/py-param.c
index b83e3d080eb3..143f41d0bcf9 100644
--- a/gdb/python/py-param.c
+++ b/gdb/python/py-param.c
@@ -64,8 +64,9 @@  union parmpy_variable
   /* Hold an unsigned integer value, for uinteger.  */
   unsigned int uintval;
 
-  /* Hold a string, for the various string types.  */
-  char *stringval;
+  /* Hold a string, for the various string types.  The std::string is
+     new-ed.  */
+  std::string *stringval;
 
   /* Hold a string, for enums.  */
   const char *cstringval;
@@ -142,13 +143,7 @@  set_parameter_value (parmpy_object *self, PyObject *value)
 	  return -1;
 	}
       if (value == Py_None)
-	{
-	  xfree (self->value.stringval);
-	  if (self->type == var_optional_filename)
-	    self->value.stringval = xstrdup ("");
-	  else
-	    self->value.stringval = NULL;
-	}
+	self->value.stringval->clear ();
       else
 	{
 	  gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char>
@@ -156,8 +151,7 @@  set_parameter_value (parmpy_object *self, PyObject *value)
 	  if (string == NULL)
 	    return -1;
 
-	  xfree (self->value.stringval);
-	  self->value.stringval = string.release ();
+	  *self->value.stringval = string.get ();
 	}
       break;
 
@@ -504,14 +498,14 @@  add_setshow_generic (int parmclass, enum command_class cmdclass,
 
     case var_string:
       commands = add_setshow_string_cmd (cmd_name.get (), cmdclass,
-					 &self->value.stringval, set_doc,
+					 self->value.stringval, set_doc,
 					 show_doc, help_doc, get_set_value,
 					 get_show_value, set_list, show_list);
       break;
 
     case var_string_noescape:
       commands = add_setshow_string_noescape_cmd (cmd_name.get (), cmdclass,
-						  &self->value.stringval,
+						  self->value.stringval,
 						  set_doc, show_doc, help_doc,
 						  get_set_value, get_show_value,
 						  set_list, show_list);
@@ -519,7 +513,7 @@  add_setshow_generic (int parmclass, enum command_class cmdclass,
 
     case var_optional_filename:
       commands = add_setshow_optional_filename_cmd (cmd_name.get (), cmdclass,
-						    &self->value.stringval,
+						    self->value.stringval,
 						    set_doc, show_doc, help_doc,
 						    get_set_value,
 						    get_show_value, set_list,
@@ -528,7 +522,7 @@  add_setshow_generic (int parmclass, enum command_class cmdclass,
 
     case var_filename:
       commands = add_setshow_filename_cmd (cmd_name.get (), cmdclass,
-					   &self->value.stringval, set_doc,
+					   self->value.stringval, set_doc,
 					   show_doc, help_doc, get_set_value,
 					   get_show_value, set_list, show_list);
       break;
@@ -714,6 +708,9 @@  parmpy_init (PyObject *self, PyObject *args, PyObject *kwds)
   obj->type = (enum var_types) parmclass;
   memset (&obj->value, 0, sizeof (obj->value));
 
+  if (var_type_uses_string (obj->type))
+    obj->value.stringval = new std::string;
+
   gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> cmd_name
     = gdbpy_parse_command_name (name, &set_list, &setlist);
   if (cmd_name == nullptr)
@@ -746,7 +743,16 @@  parmpy_init (PyObject *self, PyObject *args, PyObject *kwds)
   return 0;
 }
 
-
+/* Deallocate function for a gdb.Parameter.  */
+
+static void
+parmpy_dealloc (PyObject *obj)
+{
+  parmpy_object *parm_obj = (parmpy_object *) obj;
+
+  if (var_type_uses_string (parm_obj->type))
+    delete parm_obj->value.stringval;
+}
 
 /* Initialize the 'parameters' module.  */
 int
@@ -785,7 +791,7 @@  PyTypeObject parmpy_object_type =
   "gdb.Parameter",		  /*tp_name*/
   sizeof (parmpy_object),	  /*tp_basicsize*/
   0,				  /*tp_itemsize*/
-  0,				  /*tp_dealloc*/
+  parmpy_dealloc,		  /*tp_dealloc*/
   0,				  /*tp_print*/
   0,				  /*tp_getattr*/
   0,				  /*tp_setattr*/
diff --git a/gdb/python/python.c b/gdb/python/python.c
index c5641c4db8f7..696614d4c9b5 100644
--- a/gdb/python/python.c
+++ b/gdb/python/python.c
@@ -459,12 +459,9 @@  gdbpy_parameter_value (const cmd_list_element *show_cmd)
     case var_optional_filename:
     case var_filename:
       {
-	const char *str = *show_cmd->var->char_ptr_var;
+	const std::string &str = *show_cmd->var->string_var;
 
-	if (str == nullptr)
-	  str = "";
-
-	return host_string_to_python_string (str).release ();
+	return host_string_to_python_string (str.c_str ()).release ();
       }
 
     case var_enum:
diff --git a/gdb/remote-sim.c b/gdb/remote-sim.c
index 5bedc04011d4..5bfce2a9a318 100644
--- a/gdb/remote-sim.c
+++ b/gdb/remote-sim.c
@@ -680,10 +680,9 @@  gdbsim_target_open (const char *args, int from_tty)
   int len;
   char *arg_buf;
   struct sim_inferior_data *sim_data;
-  const char *sysroot;
   SIM_DESC gdbsim_desc;
 
-  sysroot = gdb_sysroot;
+  const std::string &sysroot = gdb_sysroot;
   if (is_target_filename (sysroot))
     sysroot += strlen (TARGET_SYSROOT_PREFIX);
 
@@ -704,7 +703,7 @@  gdbsim_target_open (const char *args, int from_tty)
   len = (7 + 1			/* gdbsim */
 	 + strlen (" -E little")
 	 + strlen (" --architecture=xxxxxxxxxx")
-	 + strlen (" --sysroot=") + strlen (sysroot) +
+	 + strlen (" --sysroot=") + sysroot.length () +
 	 + (args ? strlen (args) : 0)
 	 + 50) /* slack */ ;
   arg_buf = (char *) alloca (len);
@@ -731,7 +730,7 @@  gdbsim_target_open (const char *args, int from_tty)
     }
   /* Pass along gdb's concept of the sysroot.  */
   strcat (arg_buf, " --sysroot=");
-  strcat (arg_buf, sysroot);
+  strcat (arg_buf, sysroot.c_str ());
   /* finally, any explicit args */
   if (args)
     {
diff --git a/gdb/remote.c b/gdb/remote.c
index 87981330ce87..197807a94a20 100644
--- a/gdb/remote.c
+++ b/gdb/remote.c
@@ -1004,7 +1004,7 @@  static const struct program_space_key<char, gdb::xfree_deleter<char>>
    remote exec-file commands.  While the remote exec-file setting is
    per-program-space, the set/show machinery uses this as the 
    location of the remote exec-file value.  */
-static char *remote_exec_file_var;
+static std::string remote_exec_file_var;
 
 /* The size to align memory write packets, when practical.  The protocol
    does not guarantee any alignment, and gdb will generate short
@@ -1355,8 +1355,8 @@  static void
 set_remote_exec_file (const char *ignored, int from_tty,
 		      struct cmd_list_element *c)
 {
-  gdb_assert (remote_exec_file_var != NULL);
-  set_pspace_remote_exec_file (current_program_space, remote_exec_file_var);
+  set_pspace_remote_exec_file (current_program_space,
+			       remote_exec_file_var.c_str ());
 }
 
 /* The "set/show remote exec-file" show command hook.  */
@@ -12620,7 +12620,7 @@  remote_target::filesystem_is_local ()
      this case we treat the remote filesystem as local if the
      sysroot is exactly TARGET_SYSROOT_PREFIX and if the stub
      does not support vFile:open.  */
-  if (strcmp (gdb_sysroot, TARGET_SYSROOT_PREFIX) == 0)
+  if (gdb_sysroot == TARGET_SYSROOT_PREFIX)
     {
       enum packet_support ps = packet_support (PACKET_vFile_open);
 
@@ -13248,7 +13248,7 @@  remote_target::download_tracepoint (struct bp_location *loc)
 		   "ignoring tp %d cond"), b->number);
     }
 
-  if (b->commands || *default_collect)
+  if (b->commands || !default_collect.empty ())
     {
       size_left = buf.size () - strlen (buf.data ());
 
diff --git a/gdb/serial.c b/gdb/serial.c
index 7d1bc535ed94..5ec79a11aac4 100644
--- a/gdb/serial.c
+++ b/gdb/serial.c
@@ -38,7 +38,7 @@  static struct serial *scb_base;
 /* Non-NULL gives filename which contains a recording of the remote session,
    suitable for playback by gdbserver.  */
 
-static char *serial_logfile = NULL;
+static std::string serial_logfile;
 static struct ui_file *serial_logfp = NULL;
 
 static const struct serial_ops *serial_interface_lookup (const char *);
@@ -251,12 +251,12 @@  serial_open_ops_1 (const struct serial_ops *ops, const char *open_name)
   scb->next = scb_base;
   scb_base = scb;
 
-  if (serial_logfile != NULL)
+  if (!serial_logfile.empty ())
     {
       stdio_file_up file (new stdio_file ());
 
-      if (!file->open (serial_logfile, "w"))
-	perror_with_name (serial_logfile);
+      if (!file->open (serial_logfile.c_str (), "w"))
+	perror_with_name (serial_logfile.c_str ());
 
       serial_logfp = file.release ();
     }
diff --git a/gdb/solib.c b/gdb/solib.c
index 317f7eb485e2..3e7ad60d258b 100644
--- a/gdb/solib.c
+++ b/gdb/solib.c
@@ -96,7 +96,7 @@  struct target_so_ops *current_target_so_ops;
 /* If non-empty, this is a search path for loading non-absolute shared library
    symbol files.  This takes precedence over the environment variables PATH
    and LD_LIBRARY_PATH.  */
-static char *solib_search_path = NULL;
+static std::string solib_search_path;
 static void
 show_solib_search_path (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 			struct cmd_list_element *c, const char *value)
@@ -155,7 +155,7 @@  solib_find_1 (const char *in_pathname, int *fd, bool is_solib)
   int found_file = -1;
   gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> temp_pathname;
   const char *fskind = effective_target_file_system_kind ();
-  const char *sysroot = gdb_sysroot;
+  const char *sysroot = gdb_sysroot.c_str ();
   int prefix_len, orig_prefix_len;
 
   /* If the absolute prefix starts with "target:" but the filesystem
@@ -319,8 +319,8 @@  solib_find_1 (const char *in_pathname, int *fd, bool is_solib)
 
   /* If not found, and we're looking for a solib, search the
      solib_search_path (if any).  */
-  if (is_solib && found_file < 0 && solib_search_path != NULL)
-    found_file = openp (solib_search_path,
+  if (is_solib && found_file < 0 && !solib_search_path.empty ())
+    found_file = openp (solib_search_path.c_str (),
 			OPF_TRY_CWD_FIRST | OPF_RETURN_REALPATH,
 			in_pathname, O_RDONLY | O_BINARY, &temp_pathname);
 
@@ -328,8 +328,8 @@  solib_find_1 (const char *in_pathname, int *fd, bool is_solib)
      solib_search_path (if any) for the basename only (ignoring the
      path).  This is to allow reading solibs from a path that differs
      from the opened path.  */
-  if (is_solib && found_file < 0 && solib_search_path != NULL)
-    found_file = openp (solib_search_path,
+  if (is_solib && found_file < 0 && !solib_search_path.empty ())
+    found_file = openp (solib_search_path.c_str (),
 			OPF_TRY_CWD_FIRST | OPF_RETURN_REALPATH,
 			target_lbasename (fskind, in_pathname),
 			O_RDONLY | O_BINARY, &temp_pathname);
@@ -378,7 +378,7 @@  exec_file_find (const char *in_pathname, int *fd)
   if (in_pathname == NULL)
     return NULL;
 
-  if (*gdb_sysroot != '\0' && IS_TARGET_ABSOLUTE_PATH (fskind, in_pathname))
+  if (!gdb_sysroot.empty () && IS_TARGET_ABSOLUTE_PATH (fskind, in_pathname))
     {
       result = solib_find_1 (in_pathname, fd, false);
 
@@ -1394,18 +1394,18 @@  gdb_sysroot_changed (const char *ignored, int from_tty,
   const char *old_prefix = "remote:";
   const char *new_prefix = TARGET_SYSROOT_PREFIX;
 
-  if (startswith (gdb_sysroot, old_prefix))
+  if (startswith (gdb_sysroot.c_str (), old_prefix))
     {
       static bool warning_issued = false;
 
       gdb_assert (strlen (old_prefix) == strlen (new_prefix));
-      memcpy (gdb_sysroot, new_prefix, strlen (new_prefix));
+      gdb_sysroot = new_prefix + gdb_sysroot.substr (strlen (old_prefix));
 
       if (!warning_issued)
 	{
 	  warning (_("\"%s\" is deprecated, use \"%s\" instead."),
 		   old_prefix, new_prefix);
-	  warning (_("sysroot set to \"%s\"."), gdb_sysroot);
+	  warning (_("sysroot set to \"%s\"."), gdb_sysroot.c_str ());
 
 	  warning_issued = true;
 	}
diff --git a/gdb/source.c b/gdb/source.c
index c993e25a892e..54b45efab7b4 100644
--- a/gdb/source.c
+++ b/gdb/source.c
@@ -57,7 +57,7 @@ 
 /* Path of directories to search for source files.
    Same format as the PATH environment variable's value.  */
 
-char *source_path;
+std::string source_path;
 
 /* Support for source path substitution commands.  */
 
@@ -365,17 +365,15 @@  set_directories_command (const char *args,
 {
   /* This is the value that was set.
      It needs to be processed to maintain $cdir:$cwd and remove dups.  */
-  char *set_path = source_path;
+  std::string set_path = source_path;
 
   /* We preserve the invariant that $cdir:$cwd begins life at the end of
      the list by calling init_source_path.  If they appear earlier in
      SET_PATH then mod_path will move them appropriately.
      mod_path will also remove duplicates.  */
   init_source_path ();
-  if (*set_path != '\0')
-    mod_path (set_path, &source_path);
-
-  xfree (set_path);
+  if (!set_path.empty ())
+    mod_path (set_path.c_str (), source_path);
 }
 
 /* Print the list of source directories.
@@ -386,7 +384,7 @@  static void
 show_directories_1 (char *ignore, int from_tty)
 {
   puts_filtered ("Source directories searched: ");
-  puts_filtered (source_path);
+  puts_filtered (source_path.c_str ());
   puts_filtered ("\n");
 }
 
@@ -437,10 +435,7 @@  forget_cached_source_info (void)
 void
 init_source_path (void)
 {
-  char buf[20];
-
-  xsnprintf (buf, sizeof (buf), "$cdir%c$cwd", DIRNAME_SEPARATOR);
-  source_path = xstrdup (buf);
+  source_path = string_printf ("$cdir%c$cwd", DIRNAME_SEPARATOR);
   forget_cached_source_info ();
 }
 
@@ -456,20 +451,20 @@  directory_command (const char *dirname, int from_tty)
     {
       if (!from_tty || query (_("Reinitialize source path to empty? ")))
 	{
-	  xfree (source_path);
 	  init_source_path ();
 	  value_changed = true;
 	}
     }
   else
     {
-      mod_path (dirname, &source_path);
+      mod_path (dirname, source_path);
       forget_cached_source_info ();
       value_changed = true;
     }
   if (value_changed)
     {
-      gdb::observers::command_param_changed.notify ("directories", source_path);
+      gdb::observers::command_param_changed.notify ("directories",
+						    source_path.c_str ());
       if (from_tty)
 	show_directories_1 ((char *) 0, from_tty);
     }
@@ -481,13 +476,13 @@  directory_command (const char *dirname, int from_tty)
 void
 directory_switch (const char *dirname, int from_tty)
 {
-  add_path (dirname, &source_path, 0);
+  add_path (dirname, source_path, 0);
 }
 
 /* Add zero or more directories to the front of an arbitrary path.  */
 
 void
-mod_path (const char *dirname, char **which_path)
+mod_path (const char *dirname, std::string &which_path)
 {
   add_path (dirname, which_path, 1);
 }
@@ -675,6 +670,17 @@  add_path (const char *dirname, char **which_path, int parse_separators)
     }
 }
 
+/* add_path would need to be re-written to work on an std::string, but this is 
+   not trivial.  Hence this overload which copies to a `char *` and back.  */
+
+void
+add_path (const char *dirname, std::string &which_path, int parse_separators)
+{
+  char *which_path_copy = xstrdup (which_path.data ());
+  add_path (dirname, &which_path_copy, parse_separators);
+  which_path = which_path_copy;
+  xfree (which_path_copy);
+}
 
 static void
 info_source_command (const char *ignore, int from_tty)
@@ -953,7 +959,7 @@  source_full_path_of (const char *filename,
 {
   int fd;
 
-  fd = openp (source_path,
+  fd = openp (source_path.c_str (),
 	      OPF_TRY_CWD_FIRST | OPF_SEARCH_IN_PATH | OPF_RETURN_REALPATH,
 	      filename, O_RDONLY, full_pathname);
   if (fd < 0)
@@ -1044,7 +1050,8 @@  find_and_open_source (const char *filename,
 		      const char *dirname,
 		      gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> *fullname)
 {
-  char *path = source_path;
+  const char *path = source_path.c_str ();
+  std::string expanded_path_holder;
   const char *p;
   int result;
 
@@ -1086,19 +1093,22 @@  find_and_open_source (const char *filename,
       /* Replace a path entry of $cdir with the compilation directory
 	 name.  */
 #define	cdir_len	5
-      p = strstr (source_path, "$cdir");
+      p = strstr (source_path.c_str (), "$cdir");
       if (p && (p == path || p[-1] == DIRNAME_SEPARATOR)
 	  && (p[cdir_len] == DIRNAME_SEPARATOR || p[cdir_len] == '\0'))
 	{
-	  int len;
-
-	  path = (char *)
-	    alloca (strlen (source_path) + 1 + strlen (dirname) + 1);
-	  len = p - source_path;
-	  strncpy (path, source_path, len);	/* Before $cdir */
-	  strcpy (path + len, dirname);		/* new stuff */
-	  strcat (path + len, source_path + len + cdir_len);	/* After
-								   $cdir */
+	  int len = p - source_path.c_str ();
+
+	  /* Before $cdir */
+	  expanded_path_holder = source_path.substr (0, len);
+
+	  /* new stuff */
+	  expanded_path_holder += dirname;
+
+	  /* After $cdir */
+	  expanded_path_holder += source_path.c_str () + len + cdir_len;
+
+	  path = expanded_path_holder.c_str ();
 	}
     }
 
diff --git a/gdb/source.h b/gdb/source.h
index e4f6129c3e3c..54feef198bde 100644
--- a/gdb/source.h
+++ b/gdb/source.h
@@ -39,13 +39,14 @@  extern int openp (const char *, openp_flags, const char *, int,
 
 extern int source_full_path_of (const char *, gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> *);
 
-extern void mod_path (const char *, char **);
+extern void mod_path (const char *, std::string &);
 
 extern void add_path (const char *, char **, int);
+extern void add_path (const char *, std::string &, int);
 
 extern void directory_switch (const char *, int);
 
-extern char *source_path;
+extern std::string source_path;
 
 extern void init_source_path (void);
 
diff --git a/gdb/stack.c b/gdb/stack.c
index aa20018ad9f0..ad5dd3422175 100644
--- a/gdb/stack.c
+++ b/gdb/stack.c
@@ -2429,12 +2429,7 @@  print_frame_local_vars (struct frame_info *frame,
 struct info_print_options
 {
   bool quiet = false;
-  char *type_regexp = nullptr;
-
-  ~info_print_options ()
-  {
-    xfree (type_regexp);
-  }
+  std::string type_regexp;
 };
 
 /* The options used by the 'info locals' and 'info args' commands.  */
@@ -2493,9 +2488,11 @@  info_locals_command (const char *args, int from_tty)
   if (args != nullptr && *args == '\0')
     args = nullptr;
 
-  print_frame_local_vars (get_selected_frame (_("No frame selected.")),
-			  opts.quiet, args, opts.type_regexp,
-			  0, gdb_stdout);
+  print_frame_local_vars
+    (get_selected_frame (_("No frame selected.")),
+     opts.quiet, args,
+     opts.type_regexp.empty () ? nullptr : opts.type_regexp.c_str (),
+     0, gdb_stdout);
 }
 
 /* Iterate over all the argument variables in block B.  */
@@ -2604,8 +2601,11 @@  info_args_command (const char *args, int from_tty)
   if (args != nullptr && *args == '\0')
     args = nullptr;
 
-  print_frame_arg_vars (get_selected_frame (_("No frame selected.")),
-			opts.quiet, args, opts.type_regexp, gdb_stdout);
+  print_frame_arg_vars
+    (get_selected_frame (_("No frame selected.")),
+     opts.quiet, args,
+     opts.type_regexp.empty () ? nullptr : opts.type_regexp.c_str (),
+     gdb_stdout);
 }
 
 /* Return the symbol-block in which the selected frame is executing.
diff --git a/gdb/symfile.c b/gdb/symfile.c
index 0eb48d04d5be..9e5c2d488812 100644
--- a/gdb/symfile.c
+++ b/gdb/symfile.c
@@ -1349,7 +1349,7 @@  separate_debug_file_exists (const std::string &name, unsigned long crc,
   return 1;
 }
 
-char *debug_file_directory = NULL;
+std::string debug_file_directory;
 static void
 show_debug_file_directory (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 			   struct cmd_list_element *c, const char *value)
@@ -1406,8 +1406,9 @@  find_separate_debug_file (const char *dir,
   bool target_prefix = startswith (dir, "target:");
   const char *dir_notarget = target_prefix ? dir + strlen ("target:") : dir;
   std::vector<gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char>> debugdir_vec
-    = dirnames_to_char_ptr_vec (debug_file_directory);
-  gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> canon_sysroot = gdb_realpath (gdb_sysroot);
+    = dirnames_to_char_ptr_vec (debug_file_directory.c_str ());
+  gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> canon_sysroot
+    = gdb_realpath (gdb_sysroot.c_str ());
 
  /* MS-Windows/MS-DOS don't allow colons in file names; we must
     convert the drive letter into a one-letter directory, so that the
@@ -1448,7 +1449,7 @@  find_separate_debug_file (const char *dir,
 	  if (canon_sysroot.get () != NULL)
 	    base_path = child_path (canon_sysroot.get (), canon_dir);
 	  else
-	    base_path = child_path (gdb_sysroot, canon_dir);
+	    base_path = child_path (gdb_sysroot.c_str (), canon_dir);
 	}
       if (base_path != NULL)
 	{
@@ -2654,7 +2655,7 @@  add_filename_language (const char *ext, enum language lang)
   filename_language_table.emplace_back (ext, lang);
 }
 
-static char *ext_args;
+static std::string ext_args;
 static void
 show_ext_args (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 	       struct cmd_list_element *c, const char *value)
@@ -2669,48 +2670,48 @@  static void
 set_ext_lang_command (const char *args,
 		      int from_tty, struct cmd_list_element *e)
 {
-  char *cp = ext_args;
-  enum language lang;
+  const char *begin = ext_args.c_str ();
+  const char *end = ext_args.c_str ();
 
   /* First arg is filename extension, starting with '.'  */
-  if (*cp != '.')
-    error (_("'%s': Filename extension must begin with '.'"), ext_args);
+  if (*end != '.')
+    error (_("'%s': Filename extension must begin with '.'"), ext_args.c_str ());
 
   /* Find end of first arg.  */
-  while (*cp && !isspace (*cp))
-    cp++;
+  while (*end != '\0' && !isspace (*end))
+    end++;
 
-  if (*cp == '\0')
+  if (*end == '\0')
     error (_("'%s': two arguments required -- "
 	     "filename extension and language"),
-	   ext_args);
+	   ext_args.c_str ());
 
-  /* Null-terminate first arg.  */
-  *cp++ = '\0';
+  /* Extract first arg, the extension.  */
+  std::string extension = ext_args.substr (0, end - begin);
 
   /* Find beginning of second arg, which should be a source language.  */
-  cp = skip_spaces (cp);
+  begin = skip_spaces (end);
 
-  if (*cp == '\0')
+  if (*begin == '\0')
     error (_("'%s': two arguments required -- "
 	     "filename extension and language"),
-	   ext_args);
+	   ext_args.c_str ());
 
   /* Lookup the language from among those we know.  */
-  lang = language_enum (cp);
+  language lang = language_enum (begin);
 
   auto it = filename_language_table.begin ();
   /* Now lookup the filename extension: do we already know it?  */
   for (; it != filename_language_table.end (); it++)
     {
-      if (it->ext == ext_args)
+      if (it->ext == extension)
 	break;
     }
 
   if (it == filename_language_table.end ())
     {
       /* New file extension.  */
-      add_filename_language (ext_args, lang);
+      add_filename_language (extension.data (), lang);
     }
   else
     {
@@ -3784,8 +3785,7 @@  test_set_ext_lang_command ()
   SELF_CHECK (lang == language_unknown);
 
   /* Test adding a new extension using the CLI command.  */
-  auto args_holder = make_unique_xstrdup (".hello rust");
-  ext_args = args_holder.get ();
+  ext_args = ".hello rust";
   set_ext_lang_command (NULL, 1, NULL);
 
   lang = deduce_language_from_filename ("cake.hello");
@@ -3793,8 +3793,7 @@  test_set_ext_lang_command ()
 
   /* Test overriding an existing extension using the CLI command.  */
   int size_before = filename_language_table.size ();
-  args_holder.reset (xstrdup (".hello pascal"));
-  ext_args = args_holder.get ();
+  ext_args = ".hello pascal";
   set_ext_lang_command (NULL, 1, NULL);
   int size_after = filename_language_table.size ();
 
diff --git a/gdb/symtab.c b/gdb/symtab.c
index fa3f42207ecd..df7ff1e0c6cb 100644
--- a/gdb/symtab.c
+++ b/gdb/symtab.c
@@ -5146,12 +5146,7 @@  struct info_vars_funcs_options
 {
   bool quiet = false;
   bool exclude_minsyms = false;
-  char *type_regexp = nullptr;
-
-  ~info_vars_funcs_options ()
-  {
-    xfree (type_regexp);
-  }
+  std::string type_regexp;
 };
 
 /* The options used by the 'info variables' and 'info functions'
@@ -5174,8 +5169,7 @@  static const gdb::option::option_def info_vars_funcs_options_defs[] = {
 
   gdb::option::string_option_def<info_vars_funcs_options> {
     "t",
-    [] (info_vars_funcs_options *opt) { return &opt->type_regexp;
-  },
+    [] (info_vars_funcs_options *opt) { return &opt->type_regexp; },
     nullptr, /* show_cmd_cb */
     nullptr /* set_doc */
   }
@@ -5219,8 +5213,10 @@  info_variables_command (const char *args, int from_tty)
   if (args != nullptr && *args == '\0')
     args = nullptr;
 
-  symtab_symbol_info (opts.quiet, opts.exclude_minsyms, args, VARIABLES_DOMAIN,
-		      opts.type_regexp, from_tty);
+  symtab_symbol_info
+    (opts.quiet, opts.exclude_minsyms, args, VARIABLES_DOMAIN,
+     opts.type_regexp.empty () ? nullptr : opts.type_regexp.c_str (),
+     from_tty);
 }
 
 /* Implement the 'info functions' command.  */
@@ -5236,8 +5232,10 @@  info_functions_command (const char *args, int from_tty)
   if (args != nullptr && *args == '\0')
     args = nullptr;
 
-  symtab_symbol_info (opts.quiet, opts.exclude_minsyms, args,
-		      FUNCTIONS_DOMAIN, opts.type_regexp, from_tty);
+  symtab_symbol_info
+    (opts.quiet, opts.exclude_minsyms, args, FUNCTIONS_DOMAIN,
+     opts.type_regexp.empty () ? nullptr : opts.type_regexp.c_str (),
+     from_tty);
 }
 
 /* Holds the -q option for the 'info types' command.  */
@@ -6749,14 +6747,8 @@  info_module_subcommand (bool quiet, const char *module_regexp,
 struct info_modules_var_func_options
 {
   bool quiet = false;
-  char *type_regexp = nullptr;
-  char *module_regexp = nullptr;
-
-  ~info_modules_var_func_options ()
-  {
-    xfree (type_regexp);
-    xfree (module_regexp);
-  }
+  std::string type_regexp;
+  std::string module_regexp;
 };
 
 /* The options used by 'info module variables' and 'info module functions'
@@ -6806,8 +6798,11 @@  info_module_functions_command (const char *args, int from_tty)
   if (args != nullptr && *args == '\0')
     args = nullptr;
 
-  info_module_subcommand (opts.quiet, opts.module_regexp, args,
-			  opts.type_regexp, FUNCTIONS_DOMAIN);
+  info_module_subcommand
+    (opts.quiet,
+     opts.module_regexp.empty () ? nullptr : opts.module_regexp.c_str (), args,
+     opts.type_regexp.empty () ? nullptr : opts.type_regexp.c_str (),
+     FUNCTIONS_DOMAIN);
 }
 
 /* Implements the 'info module variables' command.  */
@@ -6822,8 +6817,11 @@  info_module_variables_command (const char *args, int from_tty)
   if (args != nullptr && *args == '\0')
     args = nullptr;
 
-  info_module_subcommand (opts.quiet, opts.module_regexp, args,
-			  opts.type_regexp, VARIABLES_DOMAIN);
+  info_module_subcommand
+    (opts.quiet,
+     opts.module_regexp.empty () ? nullptr : opts.module_regexp.c_str (), args,
+     opts.type_regexp.empty () ? nullptr : opts.type_regexp.c_str (),
+     VARIABLES_DOMAIN);
 }
 
 /* Command completer for 'info module ...' sub-commands.  */
diff --git a/gdb/target-descriptions.c b/gdb/target-descriptions.c
index f94ace756d4d..f5ec617bb2e3 100644
--- a/gdb/target-descriptions.c
+++ b/gdb/target-descriptions.c
@@ -510,7 +510,7 @@  target_desc_info_free (struct target_desc_info *tdesc_info)
 
 /* The string manipulated by the "set tdesc filename ..." command.  */
 
-static char *tdesc_filename_cmd_string;
+static std::string tdesc_filename_cmd_string;
 
 /* Fetch the current target's description, and switch the current
    architecture to one which incorporates that description.  */
diff --git a/gdb/top.c b/gdb/top.c
index 6e0f43d2fd92..908a6d5ee543 100644
--- a/gdb/top.c
+++ b/gdb/top.c
@@ -84,8 +84,6 @@ 
 
 extern void initialize_all_files (void);
 
-static bool history_filename_empty (void);
-
 #define PROMPT(X) the_prompts.prompt_stack[the_prompts.top + X].prompt
 #define PREFIX(X) the_prompts.prompt_stack[the_prompts.top + X].prefix
 #define SUFFIX(X) the_prompts.prompt_stack[the_prompts.top + X].suffix
@@ -908,12 +906,16 @@  static bool command_editing_p;
    variable must be set to something sensible.  */
 static bool write_history_p;
 
+/* The name of the file in which GDB history will be written.  If this is
+   set to NULL, of the empty string then history will not be written.  */
+static std::string history_filename;
+
 /* Implement 'show history save'.  */
 static void
 show_write_history_p (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 		      struct cmd_list_element *c, const char *value)
 {
-  if (!write_history_p || !history_filename_empty ())
+  if (!write_history_p || !history_filename.empty ())
     fprintf_filtered (file, _("Saving of the history record on exit is %s.\n"),
 		      value);
   else
@@ -947,24 +949,12 @@  show_history_remove_duplicates (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 		    value);
 }
 
-/* The name of the file in which GDB history will be written.  If this is
-   set to NULL, of the empty string then history will not be written.  */
-static char *history_filename;
-
-/* Return true if the history_filename is either NULL or the empty string,
-   indicating that we should not try to read, nor write out the history.  */
-static bool
-history_filename_empty (void)
-{
-  return (history_filename == nullptr || *history_filename == '\0');
-}
-
 /* Implement 'show history filename'.  */
 static void
 show_history_filename (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
 		       struct cmd_list_element *c, const char *value)
 {
-  if (!history_filename_empty ())
+  if (!history_filename.empty ())
     fprintf_filtered (file, _("The filename in which to record "
 			      "the command history is \"%ps\".\n"),
 		      styled_string (file_name_style.style (), value));
@@ -1231,14 +1221,15 @@  gdb_safe_append_history (void)
   int ret, saved_errno;
 
   std::string local_history_filename
-    = string_printf ("%s-gdb%ld~", history_filename, (long) getpid ());
+    = string_printf ("%s-gdb%ld~", history_filename.c_str (), (long) getpid ());
 
-  ret = rename (history_filename, local_history_filename.c_str ());
+  ret = rename (history_filename.c_str (), local_history_filename.c_str ());
   saved_errno = errno;
   if (ret < 0 && saved_errno != ENOENT)
     {
       warning (_("Could not rename %ps to %ps: %s"),
-	       styled_string (file_name_style.style (), history_filename),
+	       styled_string (file_name_style.style (),
+			      history_filename.c_str ()),
 	       styled_string (file_name_style.style (),
 			      local_history_filename.c_str ()),
 	       safe_strerror (saved_errno));
@@ -1266,11 +1257,11 @@  gdb_safe_append_history (void)
 				   history_max_entries);
 	}
 
-      ret = rename (local_history_filename.c_str (), history_filename);
+      ret = rename (local_history_filename.c_str (), history_filename.c_str ());
       saved_errno = errno;
       if (ret < 0 && saved_errno != EEXIST)
 	warning (_("Could not rename %s to %s: %s"),
-		 local_history_filename.c_str (), history_filename,
+		 local_history_filename.c_str (), history_filename.c_str (),
 		 safe_strerror (saved_errno));
     }
 }
@@ -1643,12 +1634,12 @@  tree, and GDB will still find it.)\n\
 
 /* The current top level prompt, settable with "set prompt", and/or
    with the python `gdb.prompt_hook' hook.  */
-static char *top_prompt;
+static std::string top_prompt;
 
 /* Access method for the GDB prompt string.  */
 
-char *
-get_prompt (void)
+const std::string &
+get_prompt ()
 {
   return top_prompt;
 }
@@ -1658,10 +1649,7 @@  get_prompt (void)
 void
 set_prompt (const char *s)
 {
-  char *p = xstrdup (s);
-
-  xfree (top_prompt);
-  top_prompt = p;
+  top_prompt = s;
 }
 
 
@@ -1801,7 +1789,7 @@  quit_force (int *exit_arg, int from_tty)
   /* Save the history information if it is appropriate to do so.  */
   try
     {
-      if (write_history_p && history_filename)
+      if (write_history_p && !history_filename.empty ())
 	{
 	  int save = 0;
 
@@ -2049,27 +2037,8 @@  init_history (void)
 
   set_readline_history_size (history_size_setshow_var);
 
-  tmpenv = getenv ("GDBHISTFILE");
-  if (tmpenv != nullptr)
-    history_filename = xstrdup (tmpenv);
-  else if (history_filename == nullptr)
-    {
-      /* We include the current directory so that if the user changes
-	 directories the file written will be the same as the one
-	 that was read.  */
-#ifdef __MSDOS__
-      /* No leading dots in file names are allowed on MSDOS.  */
-      const char *fname = "_gdb_history";
-#else
-      const char *fname = ".gdb_history";
-#endif
-
-      gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> temp (gdb_abspath (fname));
-      history_filename = temp.release ();
-    }
-
-  if (!history_filename_empty ())
-    read_history (history_filename);
+  if (!history_filename.empty ())
+    read_history (history_filename.c_str ());
 }
 
 static void
@@ -2119,21 +2088,20 @@  show_exec_done_display_p (struct ui_file *file, int from_tty,
    Extension languages, for example Python's gdb.parameter API, will read
    the value directory from this variable, so we must ensure that this
    always contains the correct value.  */
-static char *staged_gdb_datadir;
+static std::string staged_gdb_datadir;
 
 /* "set" command for the gdb_datadir configuration variable.  */
 
 static void
 set_gdb_datadir (const char *args, int from_tty, struct cmd_list_element *c)
 {
-  set_gdb_data_directory (staged_gdb_datadir);
+  set_gdb_data_directory (staged_gdb_datadir.c_str ());
 
   /* SET_GDB_DATA_DIRECTORY will resolve relative paths in
      STAGED_GDB_DATADIR, so we now copy the value from GDB_DATADIR
      back into STAGED_GDB_DATADIR so the extension languages can read the
      correct value.  */
-  free (staged_gdb_datadir);
-  staged_gdb_datadir = strdup (gdb_datadir.c_str ());
+  staged_gdb_datadir = gdb_datadir;
 
   gdb::observers::gdb_datadir_changed.notify ();
 }
@@ -2158,12 +2126,13 @@  set_history_filename (const char *args,
   /* We include the current directory so that if the user changes
      directories the file written will be the same as the one
      that was read.  */
-  if (!history_filename_empty () && !IS_ABSOLUTE_PATH (history_filename))
+  if (!history_filename.empty ()
+      && !IS_ABSOLUTE_PATH (history_filename.c_str ()))
     {
-      gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> temp (gdb_abspath (history_filename));
+      gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> temp
+	(gdb_abspath (history_filename.c_str ()));
 
-      xfree (history_filename);
-      history_filename = temp.release ();
+      history_filename = temp.get ();
     }
 }
 
@@ -2329,7 +2298,7 @@  When set, GDB uses the specified path to search for data files."),
 			   &setlist,
 			    &showlist);
   /* Prime the initial value for data-directory.  */
-  staged_gdb_datadir = strdup (gdb_datadir.c_str ());
+  staged_gdb_datadir = gdb_datadir;
 
   add_setshow_auto_boolean_cmd ("interactive-mode", class_support,
 				&interactive_mode, _("\
@@ -2415,3 +2384,28 @@  gdb_init ()
   /* Create $_gdb_major and $_gdb_minor convenience variables.  */
   init_gdb_version_vars ();
 }
+
+void _initialize_top ();
+void
+_initialize_top ()
+{
+  /* Determine a default value for the history filename.  */
+  const char *tmpenv = getenv ("GDBHISTFILE");
+  if (tmpenv != nullptr)
+    history_filename = tmpenv;
+  else
+    {
+      /* We include the current directory so that if the user changes
+	 directories the file written will be the same as the one
+	 that was read.  */
+#ifdef __MSDOS__
+      /* No leading dots in file names are allowed on MSDOS.  */
+      const char *fname = "_gdb_history";
+#else
+      const char *fname = ".gdb_history";
+#endif
+
+      gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> temp (gdb_abspath (fname));
+      history_filename = temp.get ();
+    }
+}
diff --git a/gdb/top.h b/gdb/top.h
index ef88ca024e4e..f8a5c39bbdf4 100644
--- a/gdb/top.h
+++ b/gdb/top.h
@@ -261,7 +261,7 @@  extern scoped_value_mark prepare_execute_command (void);
 
 /* This function returns a pointer to the string that is used
    by gdb for its command prompt.  */
-extern char *get_prompt (void);
+extern const std::string &get_prompt ();
 
 /* This function returns a pointer to the string that is used
    by gdb for its command prompt.  */
diff --git a/gdb/tracepoint.c b/gdb/tracepoint.c
index 06cf9cad29ad..3997d211182c 100644
--- a/gdb/tracepoint.c
+++ b/gdb/tracepoint.c
@@ -130,7 +130,7 @@  static traceframe_info_up current_traceframe_info;
 static struct cmd_list_element *tfindlist;
 
 /* List of expressions to collect by default at each tracepoint hit.  */
-char *default_collect;
+std::string default_collect;
 
 static bool disconnected_tracing;
 
@@ -146,15 +146,15 @@  static int trace_buffer_size = -1;
 
 /* Textual notes applying to the current and/or future trace runs.  */
 
-static char *trace_user = NULL;
+static std::string trace_user;
 
 /* Textual notes applying to the current and/or future trace runs.  */
 
-static char *trace_notes = NULL;
+static std::string trace_notes;
 
 /* Textual notes applying to the stopping of a trace.  */
 
-static char *trace_stop_notes = NULL;
+static std::string trace_stop_notes;
 
 /* support routines */
 
@@ -1688,10 +1688,11 @@  start_tracing (const char *notes)
   target_set_trace_buffer_size (trace_buffer_size);
 
   if (!notes)
-    notes = trace_notes;
-  ret = target_set_trace_notes (trace_user, notes, NULL);
+    notes = trace_notes.c_str ();
 
-  if (!ret && (trace_user || notes))
+  ret = target_set_trace_notes (trace_user.c_str (), notes, NULL);
+
+  if (!ret && (!trace_user.empty () || notes))
     warning (_("Target does not support trace user/notes, info ignored"));
 
   /* Now insert traps and begin collecting data.  */
@@ -1764,7 +1765,8 @@  stop_tracing (const char *note)
     }
 
   if (!note)
-    note = trace_stop_notes;
+    note = trace_stop_notes.c_str ();
+
   ret = target_set_trace_notes (NULL, NULL, note);
 
   if (!ret && note)
@@ -2804,10 +2806,10 @@  all_tracepoint_actions (struct breakpoint *t)
      validation is per-tracepoint (local var "xyz" might be valid for
      one tracepoint and not another, etc), we make up the action on
      the fly, and don't cache it.  */
-  if (*default_collect)
+  if (!default_collect.empty ())
     {
       gdb::unique_xmalloc_ptr<char> default_collect_line
-	(xstrprintf ("collect %s", default_collect));
+	(xstrprintf ("collect %s", default_collect.c_str ()));
 
       validate_actionline (default_collect_line.get (), t);
       actions.reset (new struct command_line (simple_control,
@@ -2896,7 +2898,7 @@  set_trace_user (const char *args, int from_tty,
 {
   int ret;
 
-  ret = target_set_trace_notes (trace_user, NULL, NULL);
+  ret = target_set_trace_notes (trace_user.c_str (), NULL, NULL);
 
   if (!ret)
     warning (_("Target does not support trace notes, user ignored"));
@@ -2908,7 +2910,7 @@  set_trace_notes (const char *args, int from_tty,
 {
   int ret;
 
-  ret = target_set_trace_notes (NULL, trace_notes, NULL);
+  ret = target_set_trace_notes (NULL, trace_notes.c_str (), NULL);
 
   if (!ret)
     warning (_("Target does not support trace notes, note ignored"));
@@ -2920,7 +2922,7 @@  set_trace_stop_notes (const char *args, int from_tty,
 {
   int ret;
 
-  ret = target_set_trace_notes (NULL, NULL, trace_stop_notes);
+  ret = target_set_trace_notes (NULL, NULL, trace_stop_notes.c_str ());
 
   if (!ret)
     warning (_("Target does not support trace notes, stop note ignored"));
@@ -4137,7 +4139,6 @@  Tracepoint actions may include collecting of specified data,\n\
 single-stepping, or enabling/disabling other tracepoints,\n\
 depending on target's capabilities."));
 
-  default_collect = xstrdup ("");
   add_setshow_string_cmd ("default-collect", class_trace,
 			  &default_collect, _("\
 Set the list of expressions to collect by default."), _("\
diff --git a/gdb/tracepoint.h b/gdb/tracepoint.h
index b32dd61fdfc8..a66226f93f16 100644
--- a/gdb/tracepoint.h
+++ b/gdb/tracepoint.h
@@ -159,7 +159,7 @@  struct trace_status
 
 struct trace_status *current_trace_status (void);
 
-extern char *default_collect;
+extern std::string default_collect;
 
 extern int trace_regblock_size;