Turning Pcap dumps into Message Sequence Charts

Andrew Bolster

Researcher at the University of Liverpool, Founder/Director at Farset Labs

PCap files are a pain; weird format, difficult to parse viserally even if you have the ‘right’ tools handy. Wouldn’t it be easier to be able to ‘see’ the network flow, like it is in all the textbooks?

Well now you can!

In playing with NS-3, I came across this problem, and googled for a solution. Now here’s an end-to-end ‘I have pcap files and want to make them pretty’ solution.

Assume you have…

  • Ubuntu

  • pcap files

  • ~/src/ dir

  • a ~/bin directory on your users $PATH

Get ‘er dun

sudo apt-get install mscgen subversion tshark

cd ~/src; svn checkout http://pcap2msc.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/ pcap2msc-read-only; ln -s ~/src/pcap2msc-read-only/pcap2msc ~/bin/

cd <where yo' pcaps at!>/

pcap2msc <whatever.pcap> all

This is ugly but it shows you what the individual packets are…

Then Pump the same thing into mscgen

pcap2msc <whatever.pcap> all | mscgen -T png -o <whatever.png>

Published: April 30 2012

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