Author Topic: iBored is the internet-enabled Block Oriented (Disk) Editor  (Read 2891 times)

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iBored is the internet-enabled Block Oriented (Disk) Editor
« on: January 07, 2010, 10:26:52 PM »
iBored is the internet-enabled Block Oriented (Disk) Editor

Key Features

Reads, edits and writes disk blocks
Works over a network (internet)
Template system for structural data

Mac OS X: 10.4 or later
Windows: 2000, XP, Vista
Linux: not sure

About iBored, version 1.1.1
Written by and Copyright © 2006-2009 Thomas Tempelmann

This is a free program for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux. It was formerly released under the name rohPod.

It is basically a hex editor for disk sectors, but can also be used to edit files, including disk images.

This program comes with hardly any documentation, and it doesn't explain what it does, either. If you have not used other tools to edit disk blocks or files on a binary level before, you may find it difficult to use.

Beware: This tool lets you mess with your disk contents in a rather unsafe manner: You can easily write over any data on a disk, rendering the entire disk unusable. So you better know what you're doing, especially if you use any "write" operations. And keep backups of your data on other disks.

I wrote this tool mainly for my own use. However, I like to share it with those who know what it's good for. If you can't deal with it, don't complain. It's free. Choose it or lose it.

OTOH, if you need help with it, or even need improvements, and are willing to pay for my services, get in contact (see end of this document).


Can view disks in custom block sizes.
Deals gracefully with read errors: You can copy a partially-damaged disk to an image file (bad blocks will become zero-filled in the copy) in order to use recovery tools on the error-free copy then.
When modifying data, a "journal" file is written to your desktop that contains the previous data of the altered blocks, and it can be used to undo your changes.
Can view partitions and other subranges as containers with their own start, length and block size.
Can be re-launched with admin (root) rights to access non-removable disks) (Mac OS X only).
Detects connected iPods, showing their firmware partition contents.
Can access disks remotely over a network connection.
Can save a range of blocks to a file and write a file back to disk.
Has a powerful template system to view and analyse disk structures.
Can edit MBR and GPT partition tables.
Can install a PC BIOS bootloader dealing with both MBR and GPT.


Some operations are only implemented for Mac OS X, not Windows nor Linux.
Hardly any testing has been done on Linux and Windows, lately. If basic operations (read, modify, write) fail, let me know!
Templates are limited, and some operations may only work under certain conditions - I've often only implemented them as far as I needed them for a particular case.


A few hints:


   Be aware that you will not get to see any disks unless you launch this program with root permissions. I assume you know how to do that.

Working with files

   By default, only disks are listed in the "Disks" window. To edit a file, simply drop it into the Disks window and it will appear like a disk in the list.

Writing data

   Making modifications to data on a disk requires you to "enable writing" first. If you're editing a block in the hex viewer, you can enable writing via the menu. This will attempt to unmount the disk first. If that fails, e.g. due to open files on a disk's volume, writing won't be enabled.

   If writing gets enabled successfully, a journal file will be written to your desktop folder whenever you save a modified block in the hex viewer.

   However, if you're going to overwrite multiple blocks using Write File to Blocks, no journal will be written! Thus be careful where you write your data to as there's no simple undo available afterwards.

Using the Journal

   As long as there is a journal file in your desktop folder, you can use the Show Journal command from the menu if a disk is selected in the Disks window (or if you have some other disk-specific window open). You can then select single or several entries from the journal and choose to view them or write them back to the disk in the place where they were saved from. Thus, after making modifications to a disk, you could Select All entries in the journal to undo all your changes.

   After writing back blocks from the journal the journal will remove those blocks so that it's clear which blocks are still modified.

   Note that the journal is only written if you modify blocks individually using the hex editor, but not if you perform multi-block modifications such as via the Write File to Blocks command!

Remote access (via network)

   To use this feature, iBored needs to be launched on both computers and at least one side has to be reachable via IP directly (i.e. if it's behind a router, port forwarding must be installed).

   To connect the two computers, choose Connect... on both. The computer that is directly reachable should use the "Listen" mode, the other can then connect to it.

   After both are connected, either side can use the menu command Show Remote Disks to view the other side's accessible disks. From there on, it functions like accessing local disks, mostly. A few differences exist:

   The user whose disks are examined will be asked to confirm the following operations once:
View the list of his disks
Read a particular disk
Enable writing on a particular disk
   If the user does not confirm the operation, the request will fail on the other end, of course. Additionally, either side may terminate the connection at any time.

   Modifications can only be done via the Block (hex) viewer - multi-block write operations such as Write File to Blocks to not work via the network (yet). Reading a bunch of blocks over the network with the Write Blocks to File command works, though.

   If a modification is done remotely, the journal will be written on the computer where the modification is performed. That way, the user still has it under control to undo all changes later again.

   Both sides can view the same data. If the remote side makes a change, the windows on both sides will update to show the new data. However, if the local side makes a change, the remote sides' view will not automatically be updated (this is not by design but rather by lack of my effort to do this right).

   This all means: if a user gives someone else access to his disk, he can make sure that the remote user can't read data from disks he doesn't want to be read, and he can also prevent the remote user from making modifications without his consent. Even if the remote user makes modifications, the local user still can undo these changes later again via the Journal. Hence, the user is pretty safe from having unrepairable harm done to his data. At least, that's how I've designed the remote access. (If you find any loopholes in this, let me know so that I can fix them ASAP.)


   Some data is auto-detected when viewed in the hex editor - then the view switches from hex view to the template view. In template view, structured data appears interpreted. For example, a MBR (master boot record) of a typical Windows formatted disk will show the four partition entries with block numbers and other values.

   Currently, the template view does not allow you to modify entries. You will have to note the offset and size of an entry and then switch back to the hex view to make modifications.

   Sometimes there may be more than one potentially fitting template. Those that might fit have a little dot in front on them in the popup menu of the Templates view.

   If you like to add more templates yourself, have a look at the file iBored-templates.xml, which is either next to the application, or, on Mac OS X, inside the package in Contents/Resources. It is organically grown and there is currently no documentation on what parameters is allows. But maybe you can learn from looking at the present information. Otherwise, contact me, and I might make an effort to document it better.

Specific commands from the menus

   Run As Root (Mac OS X only): asks for an administration login & password, then re-launches iBored with root permissions so that all disks, including the root volume, can be accessed.

   View Structure: Relies on context entries in the templates xml file to analyse the structure of a disk. Starting at the partition table, it shows a hierarchical view of the various containers (e.g. each partition with its volume and maybe even its directory). May work or not work for your kind of disk as the structures in the templates file are not complete yet for all file systems.

   View Partitions: Uses hard-coded routines (i.e. not the templates file) to list the partitions of a disk.

   View Subrange: Opens a new view for a range of a disk's blocks, with a user-defined block size.

   Write Blocks to File: Writes a subrange of blocks to a user-chosen file.

   Write File to Blocks: Writes a file to a range of blocks. The writing always starts with the first block of the file, i.e. you cannot currently choose to write only a subrange of a file that doesn't start at the beginning of the file. You can, however, choose only to write a certain number of blocks from the file to the disk.

   Backup used Blocks: Tries to write a compressed disk image from a disk or subrange view, where only blocks are written that are marked "in use" by the volume format. For instance, if applied to a FAT formatted disk, only the MBR, the FAT blocks, the root directory and any blocks marked used by the FAT are written. The written file uses the same format as a journal file, BTW. Note that this only works with a few formats, though, such as (currently) FAT16 and FAT32.

   Fix Partition Size: A function I once needed to fix overlapping partitions on Linux-formatted iPods. Only enabled if a partitions view shows red fields. May not fix it the way you expect, so better not use it unless you like to experiment (or have backups).

   Check Volume Structure: A function to repair a partially damaged FAT volume. It has some hard-coded values in it currently, making it useless for general use.

   drutil output (Mac OS X only): invoked the command line tool drutil which interprets a block's data.


   There are no preferences (persistent options) to set in this application (yet), hence the Preferences menu is always disabled.


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