pcap_loop, pcap_dispatch - process packets from a live capture or save‐
typedef void (*pcap_handler)(u_char *user, const struct pcap_pkthdr *h,
const u_char *bytes);
int pcap_loop(pcap_t *p, int cnt,
pcap_handler callback, u_char *user);
int pcap_dispatch(pcap_t *p, int cnt,
pcap_handler callback, u_char *user);
DESCRIPTIONpcap_loop() processes packets from a live capture or ``savefile'' until
cnt packets are processed, the end of the ``savefile'' is reached when
reading from a ``savefile'', pcap_breakloop() is called, or an error
occurs. It does not return when live read timeouts occur. A value of
-1 or 0 for cnt is equivalent to infinity, so that packets are pro‐
cessed until another ending condition occurs.
pcap_dispatch() processes packets from a live capture or ``savefile''
until cnt packets are processed, the end of the current bufferful of
packets is reached when doing a live capture, the end of the ``save‐
file'' is reached when reading from a ``savefile'', pcap_breakloop() is
called, or an error occurs. Thus, when doing a live capture, cnt is
the maximum number of packets to process before returning, but is not a
minimum number; when reading a live capture, only one bufferful of
packets is read at a time, so fewer than cnt packets may be processed.
A value of -1 or 0 for cnt causes all the packets received in one buf‐
fer to be processed when reading a live capture, and causes all the
packets in the file to be processed when reading a ``savefile''.
(In older versions of libpcap, the behavior when cnt was 0 was unde‐
fined; different platforms and devices behaved differently, so code
that must work with older versions of libpcap should use -1, not 0, as
the value of cnt.)
callback specifies a pcap_handler routine to be called with three argu‐
ments: a u_char pointer which is passed in the user argument to
pcap_loop() or pcap_dispatch(), a const struct pcap_pkthdr pointer
pointing to the packet time stamp and lengths, and a const u_char
pointer to the first caplen (as given in the struct pcap_pkthdr a
pointer to which is passed to the callback routine) bytes of data from
the packet. The struct pcap_pkthdr and the packet data are not to be
freed by the callback routine, and are not guaranteed to be valid after
the callback routine returns; if the code needs them to be valid after
the callback, it must make a copy of them.
The bytes of data from the packet begin with a link-layer header. The
format of the link-layer header is indicated by the return value of the
pcap_datalink() routine when handed the pcap_t value also passed to
pcap_loop() or pcap_dispatch(). http://www.tcpdump.org/linktypes.html
lists the values pcap_datalink() can return and describes the packet
formats that correspond to those values. The value it returns will be
valid for all packets received unless and until pcap_set_datalink() is
called; after a successful call to pcap_set_datalink(), all subsequent
packets will have a link-layer header of the type specified by the
link-layer header type value passed to pcap_set_datalink().
Do NOT assume that the packets for a given capture or ``savefile`` will
have any given link-layer header type, such as DLT_EN10MB for Ethernet.
For example, the "any" device on Linux will have a link-layer header
type of DLT_LINUX_SLL even if all devices on the system at the time the
"any" device is opened have some other data link type, such as
DLT_EN10MB for Ethernet.
RETURN VALUEpcap_loop() returns 0 if cnt is exhausted or if, when reading from a
``savefile'', no more packets are available. It returns -1 if an error
occurs or -2 if the loop terminated due to a call to pcap_breakloop()
before any packets were processed. It does not return when live read
timeouts occur; instead, it attempts to read more packets.
pcap_dispatch() returns the number of packets processed on success;
this can be 0 if no packets were read from a live capture (if, for
example, they were discarded because they didn't pass the packet fil‐
ter, or if, on platforms that support a read timeout that starts before
any packets arrive, the timeout expires before any packets arrive, or
if the file descriptor for the capture device is in non-blocking mode
and no packets were available to be read) or if no more packets are
available in a ``savefile.'' It returns -1 if an error occurs or -2 if
the loop terminated due to a call to pcap_breakloop() before any pack‐
ets were processed. If your application uses pcap_breakloop(), make
sure that you explicitly check for -1 and -2, rather than just checking
for a return value < 0.
If -1 is returned, pcap_geterr() or pcap_perror() may be called with p
as an argument to fetch or display the error text.
SEE ALSOpcap(3PCAP), pcap_geterr(3PCAP), pcap_breakloop(3PCAP),
24 December 2008 PCAP_LOOP(3PCAP)