bbe [options]...


bbe is a sed-like editor for binary files. It performs binary transformations on the blocks of input stream.


bbe accepts the following options:

-b, --block=BLOCK

Block definition.

-e, --expression=COMMAND

Add the COMMAND to the commands to be executed.

-f, --file=script-file

Add the contents of script-file to commands.

-o, --output=name

Write output to name instead of standard output.

-s, --suppress

Suppress normal output, print only block contents.

-?, --help

List all available options and their meanings.

-V, --version

Show version of program.

BLOCK can be defined as:


Where N'th byte starts a M bytes long block (first byte is 0).


Block length in input stream is M.


String start starts M bytes long block.


String start starts the block and block ends at string stop.


String start starts the block and block will end at next occurrence of start. Only the first start is included to the block.


Block starts at the beginning of input stream (or at the end of previous block) and ends at the next occurrence of stop. String stop will be included to the block.

Special value '$' of M means the end of stream.

Default value for block is 0:$, meaning the whole input stream.

Both start and stop strings are included in block. Nonprintable characters can be escaped as







Character '\' can be escaped as '\\'. Escape codes '\a','\b','\t','\n','\v','\f','\r' and '\;' can also be used.

Length (N and M) can be defined as a decimal (n), a hexadecimal (xn) or an octal (0n) value.


bbe has two type of commands: block and byte commands, both are always related to current block. That means that the input stream outside of the blocks remains untouched.

Block commands

D [n]

Delete the n'th block. Without n, all found blocks are deleted from the output stream.

I string

Insert the string string before the block.

A string

Append the string string at the end of block.

J n

Skip n blocks, before executing commands after this command.

L n

Leave all blocks unmodified starting from block number n. Affects only commands after this command.


Before printing a block, the file name in which the block starts is printed.

F f

Before printing a block, the input stream offset at the beginning of the block is printed. f can be H, D or O for Hexadecimal, Decimal or Octal format of offset.

B f

Before printing a block, the block number is printed (first block == 1) f can be H, D or O for Hexadecimal, Decimal or Octal format of block number.

> file

Before printing a block, the contents of file file are printed.

< file

After printing a block, the contents of file file are printed.

Byte commands

n in byte commands is the offset from the beginning of current block (starts from zero).

r n string

Replace bytes starting at position n with string string.

i n string

Insert string starting at position n.

p format

The contents of block is printed in format defined by format. format can have any of the formats H, D, O, A and B for Hexadecimal, Decimal, Octal, Ascii and Binary.


Replace all occurrences of search with replace.


Translate bytes in source to the corresponding bytes in dest. Source and dest must be the same length.

d n m|*

Delete m bytes starting from the offset n. If * is defined instead of m, then all bytes starting from n are deleted.

c from to

Convert bytes from format from to to. Currently supported formats are:

  • BCD Binary coded decimal

  • ASC Ascii

j n

Commands after the j-command are ignored for first n bytes of the block.

l n

Commands after the l-command are ignored from n'th byte of the block.

w file

Write bytes from the current block to file file. Commands before w-command have what will be written. %B or %nB in file will be replaced by current block number. n in %nB is field length, leading zero in n causes the block number to be left padded with zeroes.

& c

Performs binary and with c.

| c

Performs binary or with c.

^ c

Performs binary xor with c.


Performs binary negation.

u n c

All bytes from start of the block to offset n are replaced by c.

f n c

All bytes starting from offset n to end of the block are replaced by c.


Exchange the contents of nibbles (half an octet) of bytes.

Nonvisible characters in strings can be escaped same way as in block definition strings. Character '/' in s and y commands can be any visible character.

Note that the D, A, I, F, B, c, s, i, y, p, <, > and d commands cause the length of input and output streams to be different.


bbe -e "s/c:\\temp\\data1.txt/c:\\temp\\data2.txt/" file1

all occurrences of "c:\temp\data1.txt" in file file1 are changed to "c:\temp\data2.txt"

bbe -b 0420:16 -e "r 4 \x12\x4a" file1

Two bytes starting at fifth byte of a 16 byte long block starting at offset 0420 (octal) in file1 are changed to hexadecimal values 12 and 4a.

bbe -b :16 -e "A \x0a" file1

Newline is added after every block, block length is 16.



Timo Savinen <[email protected] >