22.4 forum: Interpreting C structures with spcc

Sometimes you need to interpret a data structure found on a piece of a binary file. Radare make use of libmagic to achieve this.

In visual mode you can press the 'm' key to interpret the current data block by the 'rfile' wrapper.

How to write a magic database file for mapping binary structures? NOTE: Read the file(1) manpage fmi.

The magic file syntax is not very readable and probably ugly to write, so, radare provides a user-defined way to create C and perl descriptors for data blocks. This is explained later in this paper.

Magic files follow this basic structure:

0         type  match  output
>offset   type  match  output
>>offset  type  match  output
>>offset  type  match  output

The '>' tree is only followed if the previous '>' level matches. So you can provide on a single file a multiple switch/case hirearchy for multiple filetypes or data structures.

This format does not support include-like directives, so you must provide define all the magic files using the -m flag.

Structure parser language wrappers ================================== radare implements some language wrappers to create parsers for binary structures using C or perl.

You can create an 'spc' file (structure parser in C language) to create a data block parser to be called from radare using the pU mode (user-defined print command).

This command is defined by the user with the %PRINTCMD environment variable.

$ cat test.spc

struct foo {
        int id;
        void *next;
        void *prev;

void parse(struct spcc *spcc, uchar *buffer) {
        struct foo tmp;
        memcpy(&tmp, buffer, sizeof(struct foo));
        printf("id: %d\nnext: %p\nprev: %p\n",
                tmp.id, tmp.next, tmp.prev);

This is our structure parser. A simple double-linked list of integers viewer.

$ rsc spcc

spcc - structure parser c compiler
Usage: spcc [file.spc] ([gcc-flags])

$ rsc spcc test.spc -o test
$ ./test
Usage: ./test [file] [offset]


Now we can use this structure parser as a user defined print command:

$ export PRINTCMD=$PWD/test
$ radare /tmp/target-file
> s 0x400
> pU
id: 678326121
next: 0x72616863
prev: 0x74732a20

Playing with the visual mode ============================

We can use the user-defined print command inside the visual mode and walk between the flags interpreting each data block with our own parser.

Use the 'f' and 'F' key to move around the flags in visual mode and change the print format using the 'p' key.