Using radare2 to pwn things

May 14, 2015

While more and more people are using radare2 during ctf, in the same time we’ve got more and more complains that there is not enough documentation about radare2.

This article’s goal is to make a small cheat-sheet when it comes to pwn things with our beloved piece of software.

Keep in mind that:

  • Every character has a meaning (w stands for write, p stands for print, …)
  • Every command can be a succession of character (pdf stands for p: print, d: disassemble, f: function
  • Every command is documented with ? (pdf?, ???, …)


  • search a string in memory/binary: / yourstring
  • search for rop gadgets: /R
  • search for rop gadgets with a regexp: /R/
  • show strings: iz
  • find writeable sections: iS | grep perm=..w
  • find executables sections: iS | grep perm=...x
  • find xref of a function: axt [offset|yourfunctioname]
  • list libc imports: is~imp.
  • generate cyclical pattern: ragg2 -P $SIZE -r
  • find offset of pattern: wopO $VALUE
  • change the deep of the rop-search: e search.roplen = 4
  • computing how far a symbol is from where you currently are: fd [offset|yourfunctioname]
  • find protections in binary:
    • i~canary for canaries
    • i~pic for Position Independent Code
    • i~nx for non-executable stack


  • initialize emulation: aei
  • deinitialize emulation: aed
  • emulate a whole function: aef
  • single-step: aes


  • hexdump: pxw [len] [@ offset]
  • get offset of a symbol: ?v sym.main
  • disassemble a whole function: pdf @ [offset|yourfunctioname]
  • list functions: afl
  • get in which function an address is used: afi address~fcn
    • afi to get function information
    • ~fcn to grep for “fcn”
    • append j to get a JSON output : ij, pdfj, /Rj
  • calculus of offsets: ? 0x20 + 0x4028a0


  • connecting the gdbserver r2 -D gdb -d [binary] gdb://[address:port] (full doc)
  • connecting the remote windbg r2 -D wind -d [binary] windbg://[pipe address] (full doc)
  • show registers: dr=
  • emuling strace: dcs*
  • disassemble at register reg: pd [len] @ [reg]


  • emulating socat: rarun2 program=./plzpwnme.exe listen=4444 You should really take a look at rarun2's manpage.

Feel free to tell us if you think that we missed something, and good luck for the Defcon CTF Quals!