HDCB – new way of analysing binary files under Linux

As any observer of my projects spotted, most of the biggest projects I do involves binary file analysis. Currently I am working on another one that requires such analysis.
Unfortunately such analysis is not an easy task and anything that will ease this or speed it up is appreciated. Of course there are some tools that will make it a bit easier. One of them is hexdump. Even IDA Pro can make it easier a bit. Despite them I always felt that something is missing here. When creating xSDM and delz utils, I was using hexdump output with LibreOffice document to mark different structure members with different colors. It worked, but selecting 100-byte buffer line by line was just wasting precious time.

SDC file analyzed by HDCB script


So why not automate whole process? What we really need here is just hexdump output and terminal emulator with color support. And that’s why I’ve made HDCB – HexDump Coloring Book. Basically it is just extension to bash scripting language. Goal was to create simple script that will hide as much of its internals from end-user and allow user to just start it will his shell using old good ./scriptname.ext and that’s it. HDCB is masked as if it was standalone scripting language. It uses shebang, known from bash or python scripts to let user shell know what interpreter to use (#!/usr/bin/env hdcb). Those who are python programmers should recognize usage of env binary.

In fact it is just simple extension to bash language, so users are still able to utilize any features available in bash. Main extensions are two commands: one (define) for defining variables and the other (use) for defining field or array of that defined type. Such scripts should be started with just one argument – file that is meant to be hexdumped and analyzed.


Bash scripts are just some kind of a cover of real program. Main core of the program is colour utility. It gets unlimited number of parameters grouped in groups of four. They are in order: offset of byte being colored, length of the field, background and foreground colors. As standard input, hexdump output (in fact only hexdump -C or hexdump -Cv are supported) is provided. Program colors the hexdump with rules provided as arguments. This architecture allows clever hacker to build that cover mentioned in virtually any programming language.

Downloads, documentation and more

As usual, program is available on my Github profile. Sources are provided on GPLv3 license so you are free to contribute to the project and you are strongly encouraged to do so or make proposals of a new functions. Program is meant to be expanded according to my future needs, but I will try to implement any good idea. Whole documentation, installation instructions and the like are also available on Github.

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  1. By v3l0c1r4pt0r.tk » Understanding JCOP: memory dump on February 8, 2017 at 18:03

    […] something that could be found online, here you have screenshot of it, colored a bit with help of my hdcb program. Without documentation it might not be very useful, but in some emergency situation, maybe […]

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