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An interactive static source code analyzer

Cobra is a fast code analyzer that can be used to interactively probe and query up to millions of lines of code. The basic design of the tool is language-neutral, though a lot of query and rule libraries have been developed, and are included in the distribution, that target C or C-like languages. The original version of the tool (version 1.0) was developed at NASA/JPL and cleared for public release in April 2016. The current version (3.0) is a significantly extended version of the tool, released under the same license in June 2019.


  • choose a directory to install the tool, below this is referred to as directory $COBRA

    $ git clone

    which gives you a directory with a set of sub-directories like this:

    drwxrwxr-x 2 gh gh 4096 May 16 12:59 bin_linux # executables for linux
    drwxrwxr-x 2 gh gh 4096 May 16 12:59 bin_cygwin # executables for cygwin
    drwxrwxr-x 2 gh gh 4096 May 16 12:59 bin_mac # executables for macs
    drwxrwxr-x 2 gh gh 4096 May 16 10:03 doc # change history, manpage, license
    drwxrwxr-x 2 gh gh 4096 May 16 10:03 gui # optional small tcl/tk script
    drwxrwxr-x 8 gh gh 4096 May 16 15:55 rules # cobra checker libraries
    drwxrwxr-x 1 gh gh 4096 May 16 12:43 src # cobra source files
    drwxrwxr-x 1 gh gh 4096 May 16 12:43 src_app # standalone cobra checkers

  • to compile the tool (if you are not using precompiled executables in one of the ./bin_... directories)

    $ cd src

    and depending on your platform, do:

    $ sudo make install_linux


    $ make install_cygwin


    $ make install_mac

  • add $COBRA/bin_... to your search PATH environment variable, matching the platform you are using. if you use the bash shell, you can add this line at the end of the ~/.bashrc script, where $COBRA is defined as above, for instance:

    export PATH=$PATH:$COBRA/bin_linux

  • configure the tool so that it knows where to find the rule libraries (using the $COBRA directory set at the beginning):

    $ cobra -configure $COBRA

    this creates a ~/.cobra file in your home directory, which cobra reads on startup to find the predefined checker libraries

    you can also tell Cobra where the libraries are by setting and exporting an environment variable C_BASE, for instance as follows:

    export C_BASE=$COBRA/rules

    if both a ~/.cobra file exists and the $C_BASE variable is set, the latter will be used.

  • on older cygwin 32bit platforms you may also have to help cobra find where the /tmp directory for temporary files is located, e.g. to make the cobra -view -pat '...' option work with dot or dotty. to do so, add the following environment variable as well, for instance:

    export C_TMP=C:/cygwin

  • for basic usage, to get started using Cobra, see doc/BasicUsage.txt and online for more detailed tutorials: []