Editing binary files

Tony Arnold tony.arnold at manchester.ac.uk
Mon Jun 7 10:16:17 UTC 2010


On 07/06/10 10:56, Dotan Cohen wrote:
> On 7 June 2010 12:54, Dotan Cohen <dotancohen at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Some binary files do contain plain text in them. In theory, is it
>> possible to edit this plain text in an editor such as VIM and then
>> expect the binary to run?
>> I am specifically asking about some convoluted file format that I
>> cannot upload an example of, but the user lost the original files to
>> make it yet the parts that he needs changed are visible as plaintext
>> when opening in VIM. Despite it not working and my insistence that it
>> shouldn't work, the user _insists_ that he has done this before.
>> What say you?
> Note that I am not talking about editing with a hex editor, apparently
> these binary files were in fact edited by Notepad++ in Windows
> sometime in the past. I do have reason to believe that the user is in
> fact right.

I can think of a few things that would stop it working! E.g., changing
the length of a string could upset things, changes to CR/LF combinations
because VIM thinks it's a text file and I'm not sure what 8-bit v 7-bit
character sets might do to it.

Tony Arnold,                        Tel: +44 (0) 161 275 6093
Head of IT Security,                Fax: +44 (0) 870 136 1004
University of Manchester,           Mob: +44 (0) 773 330 0039
Manchester M13 9PL.                 Email: tony.arnold at manchester.ac.uk

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