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How To Use Radare2?

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  • Last Updated : 19 Jan, 2023
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Pre-requisites: Penetration Testing and Reverse Engineering

Radare2, or “r2,” is a powerful and versatile open-source reverse engineering toolkit. It can be used to analyze, disassemble, and debug a wide range of executable formats, including native applications, firmware, and even proprietary file formats.

But why would someone want to reverse engineer software? Reverse engineering is the process of deconstructing and analyzing a system or piece of software in order to understand its inner workings. This can be useful for a number of purposes, including identifying vulnerabilities or bugs, creating custom patches or modifications, and learning how a system operates.

Radare2 is used by a diverse group of individuals, including security professionals, researchers, and hobbyists. It is particularly useful for reverse engineers, who rely on tools like r2 to understand and analyze code at a low level. This article will introduce you to radare2 and explore its key features and benefits. 

Getting Started With Radare2

Now that we’ve introduced you to radare2 and its various uses, it’s time to get started with the tool itself. In this section, we’ll walk you through the process of installing radare2 on your system and introduce you to some basic commands and navigation within the tool.

Installing radare2

Radare2 is available for a wide range of platforms, including Linux, macOS, Windows, and Android. The easiest way to install radare2 is through your platform’s package manager. On a Debian-based Linux system (e.g., Ubuntu), you can install radare2 using the following command:

sudo apt-get install radare2

On a macOS system, you can install radare2 using Homebrew:

brew install radare2

If you are using Windows, you can download a pre-built binary from the radare2 website. You can also install radare2 on Android using the radare2 Android app.

Basic Commands and Navigation

Once you have radare2 installed, you can start using it to analyze and disassemble executables. Let’s start with a simple example. Open a terminal and navigate to the directory where you have an executable file. Then, enter the following command:

r2 <executable>

This will open the executable in radare2. You should see a screen similar to this:


This is the radare2 prompt, where you can enter commands to analyze and disassemble the executable. To get a list of available commands, you can enter? At the prompt. You can also use the help command to get more detailed help for a specific command.

To disassemble the executable, you can use the pdf command. This will print the disassembled code in a readable format.

[0x00000000]> pdf

You can use the s command to navigate to a specific address or function within the executable. For example:

[0x00000000]> s main

This will navigate to the main function in the executable. You can use the pdf command again to disassemble the function. These are just a few of the basic commands available in radare2. In the next section, we’ll explore some more advanced features of the tool.

Advanced Features of Radare2

In the previous section, we introduced you to the basics of using radare2 to disassemble and navigate through an executable. In this section, we’ll dive deeper into some of the advanced features of the tool.

Disassembling and analyzing code

Radare2 provides a number of powerful commands and options for disassembling and analyzing code. For example, you can use the pd command to disassemble a specific number of instructions. You can also use the ag command to visualize the control flow graph of a function.

You can use the command to analyze the code and identify functions, strings, and other important structures. You can also use the axt command to find cross-references to a specific address or symbol.

Debugging with radare2

Radare2 includes a built-in debugger that you can use to run and debug an executable. To start the debugger, you can use the db command followed by the executable’s entry point.

For example:

[0x00000000]> db main

This will start the debugger and pause execution at the main function. You can then use commands like dc (continue execution), ds (step into), and dso (step over) to control the execution of the program.

You can also set breakpoints using the db command and the dr command to view and modify registers.

Exploring and manipulating memory

Radare2 provides a number of commands for exploring and manipulating memory. For example, you can use the px command to print hexadecimal memory dumps and the ps command to print strings.

You can also use the w command to write to memory and the f command to define data structures and apply them to memory regions.

These are just a few examples of the advanced features available in radare2. With its powerful set of commands and options, you can dive deep into the inner workings of an executable and gain a deeper understanding of how it operates.

Tips and Tricks for Using Radare2 Effectively

Radare2 is a powerful and versatile tool, but like any tool, it can be used more effectively with the right techniques and strategies. In this section, we’ll share some tips and tricks for using radare2 more effectively.

Customizing the radare2 interface

Radare2 has a highly customizable interface, with a number of options for adjusting the layout, colors, and functionality of the tool. You can use the e command to view and modify these options.

For example, you can use the escr.color option to enable or disable syntax highlighting and the e scr.utf8 option to enable or disable UTF-8 encoding. You can also use the e asm.lines option to adjust the number of lines displayed in the disassembly view.

You can tailor the radare2 interface to your specific needs and preferences by experimenting with these and other options.

Integrating radare2 with other tools

Radare2 can be used in conjunction with a number of other tools to enhance your reverse engineering workflow. For example, you can use radare2 in combination with a debugger like GDB or with a visualization tool like Binary Ninja.

You can also use radare2 with plugins and scripts to automate tasks and add custom functionality. There are a number of plugins available on the radare2 GitHub repository, as well as a rich ecosystem of community-developed scripts and tools.

Best Practices for Reverse Engineering with Radare2

Reverse engineering can be a complex and time-consuming process, but there are a few strategies that can help you work more efficiently and effectively with radare2.

  • Start with a clear goal in mind. What are you trying to achieve through reverse engineering? This will help you focus your efforts and avoid getting lost in the details.
  • Take small steps and verify your work as you go. Reverse engineering can be a trial-and-error process, so it’s important to test your assumptions and validate your findings along the way.
  • Use the right tool for the job. Radare2 is a powerful tool, but it may not always be the best choice for a particular task. Be aware of the strengths and limitations of different tools, and choose the one that is most appropriate for your needs.
  • Seek help and resources when needed. Reverse engineering can be a challenging field, and it’s okay to ask for help or look for resources when you are stuck. There are many online communities and resources available to help you learn and improve your skills.

By following these tips and practices, you can make the most of your time and resources and achieve your reverse engineering goals more efficiently.


In this article, we see how to use radare2. It is a powerful and versatile open-source reverse engineering toolkit. We’ve explored its basic commands and navigation, as well as some of its advanced features for disassembling and analyzing code, debugging, and exploring and manipulating memory.

Radare2 is a valuable tool for anyone interested in reverse engineering, whether you are a beginner or an experienced professional. Its rich set of features and options, as well as its customizable interface, make it a powerful tool for understanding and analyzing code at a low level.

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