Created: 2011-07-09 16:01
Updated: 2016-08-19 03:02
License: other


What is it ?

PCapTools is a ruby library to process pcap file from wireshark or tcpdump.

PCapTools uses tshark to process the pcap file, and run some analysis on it. Tshark is bundled with wireshark.

There are two ways to use PCapTools

  • as a command line tools
  • as a ruby library

As a command line tools

Main functionnalities :

  • Rebuild tcp streams
  • Extract and parse http requests


Ensure tshark is installed. If not, check your wireshark install.

tshark -v

Install pcap_tools

gem install pcap_tools

Command line options

pcap_tools --help

Usage: pcap_tools_http [options] pcap_files
    --no-body                    Do not display body
    --tshark_path                Path to tshark executable
    --one-tcp-stream [index]     Display only one tcp stream
    --mode [MODE]                Parsing mode : http, tcp, frame, tcp_count. Default http

Typical use

tcpdump -w out.pcap -s0 port 80
pcap_tools out.pcap

As a ruby library


Ensure tshark is installed. If not, check your wireshark install.

tshark -v

Declare dependency to pcap_tools in your Gemfile.

gem 'pcap_tools'

How to use it

The best example is the pcap_tools command line script.

Pcap_tools is an event processor : tshark returns an XML Flow, which is parsed with a SAX processor. Each packet is processed by a TCP processor, which build streams. Each streams is processed by an HTTP processor, which rebuild HTTP request / response.

Loading files

PcapTools::Loader::load_file(f, {:tshark => OPTIONS[:tshark_path]}) do |index, packet|

Each packet is a ruby object containing the main attributes found in the packet, extracted with tshark.

You have to use a packet processor to process this packet. The main one is PcapTools::TcpProcessor.

Extract tcp streams

processor = PcapTools::TcpProcessor.new
PcapTools::Loader::load_file(f, {:tshark => OPTIONS[:tshark_path]}) do |index, packet|
  processor.inject index, packet

The TCPProcessor rebuild streams from IP raw packets. To use the streams, you have to add some streams processors into the TCP Processor. TCP Processor will run each processors in the given order, passing result between them. Streams format is described below.

processor.add_stream_processor PcapTools::TcpStreamRebuilder.new

The TcpStreamRebuilder reassembles contiguous packet, for example the packets containing a big HTTP Response.

processor.add_stream_processor PcapTools::HttpExtractor.new

The HttpExtractor build HTTP request and response from streams.

Please read the code to build your own stream processor. Do not be afraid, it's easy :)

Note : the TCPProcessor is not able to rebuild tcp stream which do not start in the pcap file. For example, if you launch tcpdump after a long running Oracle DB connection, TCPProcessor will not show the Oracle DB connection.

Data format

Streams objects

A tcp_streams is an array of hash, each hash has some keys :

  • :type : :in or :out, if the packet was sent or received
  • :time : timestamp of the packet.
  • :data : payload of packet.
  • :size : payload size.

HTTP Objects

A http_call is an array of two objects :

  • The http request, an instance of Net::HTTPRequest, eg Net::HTTPGet or Net::HTTPPost. You can use this object like any http request of std lib net/http
    • req.path : get the request path
    • req['User-Agent'] : get the User-Agent
    • req.body : get the request body
    • ...
  • The http response, an instance of Net::HTTPResponse, eg Net::HTTPOk or Net::HTTPMovedPermanently. You can use this object like any http response of std lib net/http
    • resp.code : get the http return code
    • resp['User-Agent'] : get the User-Agent
    • resp.body : get the request body
    • ...

The response can be nil if there is no response in the tcp stream.

The request and response object have some new attributes

  • req.time : get the time where the request or response was captured

For the response object body, the following "Content-Encoding" type are honored :

  • gzip


  • pcap_tools found nothing in my pcap_files. Try to remove the wiresark profile, and re launch: rm -rf $HOME/.wireshark/profiles/pcap_tools.
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