This is a guide for setting up an environment for effectively contributing to the Metasploit Framework. If you just want to use Metasploit for legal, authorized hacking, we recommend instead you download the Metasploit binary installer, which will take care of all the dependencies and give you access to the open source Metasploit Framework, the free Metasploit Community edition, and an option to start the free trial for Metasploit Pro.
If you're using Kali Linux, Metasploit is already pre-installed for
non-development purposes; just type
msfconsole in the terminal to
start Metasploit Framework, then type
go_pro if you'd like to try
Metasploit Pro or Metasploit Community.
If you actually want to develop on and contribute to Metasploit, read on!
We assume that you're on some recent version of Ubuntu Linux. If not, then you're going to be on your own on how to get all your dependencies lined up . If you've successfully set up a development environment on something non-Ubuntu, and you'd like to share, let us know and we'll link to your tutorial from here.
Please note that Kali Linux (formerly Backtrack Linux) is not very suitable as a development environment, and you may run into missing upstream packages. It's a great place to use Metasploit, but not so great for hacking on it directly.
Throughout this documentation, we'll be using the example user of "Fakey McFakepants," who has the e-mail address of "email@example.com" and a login username of "fakey."
The bare minimum for working on Metasploit effectively is:
sudo apt-get -y install \ build-essential zlib1g zlib1g-dev \ libxml2 libxml2-dev libxslt-dev locate \ libreadline6-dev libcurl4-openssl-dev git-core \ libssl-dev libyaml-dev openssl autoconf libtool \ ncurses-dev bison curl wget postgresql \ postgresql-contrib libpq-dev \ libapr1 libaprutil1 libsvn1 \ libpcap-dev libsqlite3-dev
Note that this does not include an appropriate text editor or IDE, nor does it include the Ruby interpreter. We'll get to that in a second.
Many standard distributions of Ruby are lacking in one regard or
another. Lucky for all of us, there are several ways to easily install
and maintain ruby versions.
rvm is popular among many Metasploit
developers and recommended, however
rbenv is a good choice too. So, pick one of the following:
Wayne Seguin's RVM has become quite excellent at providing several proven Ruby interpreters. Visit https://rvm.io/ to read up on it or just trust that it'll all work out with a simple:
\curl -L https://get.rvm.io | bash -s stable --autolibs=enabled --ruby=2.1.5
Note the lack of sudo; you will nearly always want to install this as a regular user, and not as root.
Sometimes, depending on your particular platform, this incantation may not be reliable. This is nearly identical, but more typing:
\curl -o rvm.sh -L get.rvm.io && cat rvm.sh | bash -s stable --autolibs=enabled --ruby=2.1.5
Also, if you're sketchy about piping a web site directly to bash (which you should be), you can perform each step individually, without the &&:
\curl -o rvm.sh -L get.rvm.io less rvm.sh cat rvm.sh | bash -s stable --autolibs=enabled --ruby=2.1.5
Next, load the RVM scripts by either opening a new terminal window, or just run:
If you must be root (eg, on BackTrack or Kali), then you will need to explicitly add this (slightly different) line to the end of /root/.bashrc, instead:
Finally, you will usually need to tick the
Run command as login shell
on the default profile of gnome-terminal (assuming stock Ubuntu), or
else you will get the error message that RVM is not a
Assuming all goes as planned, you should end up with something like this in your shell:
TODO: Update these screens with 2.1.5
Because Metasploit now ships with
files, you do not need to do anything special to ensure your gems get
stashed in the right place. When you cd to your Metasploit framework
checkout, your environment will automatically switch contexts to
Simply follow this set of instructions.
As a Metasploit developer, you are encouraged to switch to Ruby 2.1.x as soon as possible. You should see some significant performance increases as a result. As of January 6, 2015, only Ruby 2.1.x is supported and 1.9.3 has been completely end of life'd. Note that Ruby 2.2.x is not supported yet.
If you'd like to use another version of ruby,
rbenv can help you easily switch:
rvm --create --versions-conf use rubyversion@metasploit-framework, replacing
rubyversion with whatever version of Ruby you like (see PR #4136).
Running the following will cause your checkout to use Ruby 2.1.5 by default:
rvm install 2.1.5 && rvm --create --versions-conf use 2.1.5@metasploit-framework && pushd ..; popd && bundle install
rbenv shell 2.1.5
Once that's done, you can set up your preferred editor. Far be it from us to tell you what editor you use -- people get really attached to these things for some reason. An informal straw poll shows that many Metasloit developers use vim, some use Rubymine, and a few use emacs or Sublime Text 2 (or 3), for which here is some helpful awesomesauce similar to what's below. For this document, let's say you're a vim kind of person, since it's free.
First, get vim, your usual way. Vim-gnome is a pretty safe bet.
sudo apt-get install vim-gnome -y
Next, get Janus. Janus is a set of super-useful plugins and conveniences for Vim. You can read up on it here: https://github.com/carlhuda/janus . Or, again, just trust that Things Will Be Fine, and:
curl -Lo- https://bit.ly/janus-bootstrap | bash
This will checkout a version of Janus (using Git) to your ~/.vim directory. Yep, you now have a git repo in one of your more important dot-directories.
Finally, I have a very small set of defaults, here:
https://gist.github.com/4658778 . Drop this in your
file. Note, Metasploit no longer uses hard tabs.
TODO: Add Rubymine docs, add screenshots for this TODO: Could reference the Sublime Text 2 plugin TidyOnExit for anyone using Sublime
I hate having to remember usernames for anything anymore, so I've gotten in the habit of creating Host entries for lots of things in my ~/.ssh/config file. You should try it, it's fun, and it can shorten most of your ssh logins to two words.
For the rest of these instructions, I'm going to assume you have something like this in your config file:
Host github Hostname github.com User git PreferredAuthentications publickey IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa.github
To check that it works, just
ssh -T github, and your result should
look like this:
Git is super and everything, but sometimes the commands can be too arcane, verbose, or long. For that, @todb-r7 has shared a pile of git aliases that he uses, strategically stashed in his online junk drawer. These are useful for both regular contributors and members of the Metasploit Committers Team, so unless you like a lot of memorization and sore fingers, you might want to pick and chose from there what makes sense for you and your workflow.
Metasploit Framework now uses Bundler extensively to keep versioned gemsets
all nicely aligned. This means that after pulling a fresh version of Metasploit
from GitHub, you likely need to
bundle install (not
bundle update). To
make that process move slightly quicker, you're encouraged to install gems
by first running
bundle config --global jobs X (where X is the number of CPUs
you have available, minus one).
The rest of this document will walk through the usual use case of working with Git and GitHub to get a local source checkout, commit something new, and get it submitted to be part of the Metasploit Framework distribution.
The example here will commit the file 2.txt to test/git/ , but imagine that we're committing some new module like ms_12_020_code_exec.rb to modules/exploits/windows/rdp/.
Now that you have a GitHub account, it's time to fork the Metasploit Framework. First, go to https://github.com/rapid7/metasploit-framework, and click the Fork button:
Hang out for a few seconds, and behold the animated "Hardcore Forking Action":
After that's done, switch back over to your terminal, make a sub-directory for your git clones, and use your previously defined .ssh/config alias to clone up a copy of Metasploit. Note that usernames on GitHub are case-sensitive; McFakePants is different from mcfakepants.
mkdir git cd git git clone https://github.com/mcfakepants/metasploit-framework.git
You should end up with a complete copy of Metasploit in the metasploit-framework sub-directory:
Now might be a good time to decorate your prompt. At the minimum, you will want something like this in your ~/.bash_aliases to let you know on the prompt which branch you're in, if you're in a git repo. I have no idea how else you would be able to track what branch you're in, honestly.
In the end, you'll have a prompt that looks like:
where the master bit changes depending on what branch you're in.
The first time you download Metasploit, you will need to get your Ruby
gems lined up. It's as simple as
gem install bundler && bundle install
from your metasploit-framework checkout. It'll look like this:
(master) fakey@mazikeen:~/git/metasploit-framework$ ./msfconsole -L [*] Metasploit requires the Bundler gem to be installed $ gem install bundler (master) fakey@mazikeen:~/git/metasploit-framework$ gem install bundler Successfully installed bundler-1.3.5 1 gem installed Installing ri documentation for bundler-1.3.5... Installing RDoc documentation for bundler-1.3.5... (master) todb@mazikeen:~/git/rapid7/metasploit-framework $ ./msfconsole -L Could not find rake-10.0.4 in any of the sources Run `bundle install` to install missing gems. (master) fakey@mazikeen:~/git/metasploit-framework$ bundle install Fetching gem metadata from http://rubygems.org/......... Fetching gem metadata from http://rubygems.org/.. Updating git://github.com/rapid7/metasploit_data_models.git Installing rake (10.0.4) Installing i18n (0.6.1) Installing multi_json (1.0.4) Installing activesupport (3.2.13) Installing builder (3.0.4) Installing activemodel (3.2.13) Installing arel (3.0.2) Installing tzinfo (0.3.37) Installing activerecord (3.2.13) Installing database_cleaner (0.9.1) Installing diff-lcs (1.2.2) Installing factory_girl (4.2.0) Installing json (1.7.7) Installing pg (0.15.0) Using metasploit_data_models (0.6.4) from git://github.com/rapid7/metasploit_data_models.git (at 0.6.4) Installing msgpack (0.5.4) Installing nokogiri (1.5.9) Installing pcaprub (0.11.3) Installing redcarpet (2.2.2) Installing robots (0.10.1) Installing rspec-core (2.13.1) Installing rspec-expectations (2.13.0) Installing rspec-mocks (2.13.0) Installing rspec (2.13.0) Installing simplecov-html (0.5.3) Installing simplecov (0.5.4) Installing yard (0.8.5.2) Using bundler (1.3.5) Your bundle is complete! Use `bundle show [gemname]` to see where a bundled gem is installed. (master) fakey@mazikeen:~/git/metasploit-framework$
TODO: Update this for a more recent bundle readout
From that point on, you'll want to occasionally run
Gemfile changes (
msfupdate does this automatically).
You do not want to run
bundle update by itself, ever, unless you are
very serious about updating every Gem in your gemset to some unknown
While it's possible to run Metasploit without a database, it's growing increasingly uncommon to do so. The fine folks over at the Fedora Project Wiki have a snappy guide to get your database configured for the first time, here: https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Metasploit_Postgres_Setup
Once that's complete, rename your database.yml.example file to 'database.yml' and be sure to fill in at least the "development" and "test" sections.
If you are going to be running specs the user for the test database will need to be able to create databases which can be done by running the following psql command:
ALTER USER your_user WITH CREATEDB;
Now that you have a source checkout of Metasploit and you have all your
prerequisite components from apt, rvm, and bundler, you should be able
to run it straight from your git clone with
Note that if you need resources that only root has access to, you'll
want to run
rvmsudo ./msfconsole -L instead.
To start off connected to a database, you will want to run something
./msfconsole -L -y config/database.yml -e development
One of the main reasons to use Git and GitHub is this whole idea of branching in order to keep all the code changes straight. In other source control management systems, branching quickly becomes a nightmare, but in Git, branching happens all the time.
You start off with your first branch, "master," which you pretty much
never work in. That branch's job is to keep in sync with everyone else.
In the case of Metasploit, "everyone else" is
rapid7/metasploit-framework/branches/master. Let's see how you can
keep up with the upstream changes via regular rebasing from upstream's
master branch to your master branch.
This is pretty straightforward. From your local branch on the command line, you can:
git remote add upstream git://github.com/rapid7/metasploit-framework.git git fetch upstream git checkout upstream/master
This lets you peek in on upstream, after giving a warning about being in the "detatched HEAD" state (don't worry about that now). From here you can do things like read the change log:
git log --pretty=oneline --name-only -3
It should all look like this in your command window:
TODO: Update this screen to 2.1.5
It's pretty handy to have this checkout be persistent so you can reference it later. So, type this:
git checkout -b upstream-master
And this will create a new local branch called "upstream-master." Now, switch back to your master branch and fetch anything new from there:
git checkout master git fetch
And finally, rebase against your local checkout of the upstream master branch:
git rebase upstream-master
Rebasing is the easiest way to make sure that your master branch is identical to the upstream master branch. If you have any local changes, those are "rewound," all the remote changes get laid down, and then your changes get reapplied. It should all look like this:
Of course, you might occasionally run into rebase conflicts, but let's just assume you won't for now. :) Resolving merge conflicts is a little beyond the scope of this document, but the Git Community Book should be able to help. In the meantime, we're working up another wiki page to deal specifically with the details of merging, rebasing, and conflict resolution.
Note that you can skip the checkout to a local branch and simply always
git rebase upstream/masteras well, but you then lose the chance to review the changes in a local branch first -- this can make unwinding merge problems a little harder.
A note on terminology: In Git, we often refer to "origin" and "master," which can be confusing. "Origin" is a remote repository which contains all of your branches. "Master" is a branch of the source code -- usually the first branch, and the branch you don't tend to commit directly to.
"Origin" isn't Rapid7's repository -- we usually refer to that repo as "Upstream." In other words, "upstream" is just another way of referring to the "rapid7" remote.
Got it? "Origin" is your repo up at GitHub, "upstream" is Rapid7's GitHub repo, and "master" is the primary branch of their respective repos.
All right, moving on.
Any time you rebase from upstream (like just now), you're likely to bring in new changes because we're committing stuff all the time. This means that when you rebase, your local branch will be ahead of your remote branch. To get your remote fork up to speed:
git push origin master
It should all look something like this:
TODO: Update this screen to 2.1.5
Switch back to your browser, refresh, and you should see the new changes reflected in your repo immediately (those GitHub guys are super fast):
Finally, let's get to pull requests. That's why you're reading all this, after all. Thanks to @corelanc0d3r for initially writing this all down from a contributor's perspective.
First, create a new branch from your master branch:
git checkout master git checkout -b module-ms12-020
Write the module, putting it in the proper sub-directory. Once it's all done and tested, add the module to your repo and push it up to origin:
git add <path to new module> git commit -m "Add MS012-020 RCE for Win2008 R2" git push origin module-ms12-020
Please make sure your commit messages conform to this guide: http://tbaggery.com/2008/04/19/a-note-about-git-commit-messages.html. TL;DR - First line should be 50 characters or less, then a blank line, then more explanatory text if necessary, with lines no longer than 72 characters.
That command set should look something like this:
In your browser, go to your newly created branch, and click Pull Request.
This will automatically reference upstream's master as the branch to land your pull request, and give you an opportunity to talk about how great your module is, what it does, how to test it, etc.
Once you click Send Pull Request, you'll be on upstream's pull queue (in this case, mcfakepants has created pull request #356, which is one of 17 open pull requests).
Depending on the position of the stars, someone from the Metasploit core development team will review your pull request, and land it, like so:
Now, keep in mind that actually landing pull requests is a little more involved than just taking your commit and applying it directly to the tree. Usually, there are a few changes to be made, sometimes there's some back and forth on the pull request to see if some technique works better, etc. To have the best chance of actually getting your work merged, you would be wise to consult the [[guidelines for accepting modules and enhancements]].
The upshot is, what's committed to Metasploit is rarely exactly what you initially sent, so once the change is committed, you'll want to rebase your checkout against master to pick up all the changes. If you've been developing in a branch (as you should), you shouldn't hit any conflicts with that.
Now that everything's committed and you're rebased, if you'd like to clean out your development branches, you can just do the following:
git branch -D module-ms12-020 git push origin :module-ms12-020
Note that Git branches are cheap (nearly free, in terms of disk space), so this shouldn't happen too terribly often.
If you plan to work on Metasploit, you should have the standard pre-commit and post-merge symlinks set up. This is really easy; assuming you're in the top-level directory of a Metasploit framework checkout, just type:
ln -sf ../../tools/dev/pre-commit-hook.rb .git/hooks/pre-commit ln -sf ../../tools/dev/pre-commit-hook.rb .git/hooks/post-merge
This will run this now somewhat misleadingly-named
before every commit you make, and after every merge, to check your
modules. The pre-commit hook will prevent you from checking in modules
that don't pass msftidy.rb inspection, while post-merge will merely ask
you nicely to not merge new brokenness.
To skip the pre-commit test because nobody's the boss of you, just run
git commit command with the
--no-verify option. Note that
actually submitting broken modules will make them unlikely landing
candidates by the Metasploit Committer
since they all run the same checks before landing.
We are slowly lurching toward a normal testing environment, now require
rspec tests to validate changes to the core workings of the framework.
To get in the habit, run the standard set of tests against your local
Metasploit branch. First, make sure you have all the gems installed,
then run the
rake spec task.
gem install bundler # Only need to do this once $ bundle install rake spec # Do this in the top-level Metasploit root
For more on rspec (which is the de-facto testing standard for Ruby
projects), see http://rspec.info/ and http://betterspecs.org. To add
tests, drop them someplace sensible in the
spec directory, and name
Adding rspec tests with your functional changes significantly increases your chances of getting your pull request landed in a timely manner.
While not required for most committers, the Metasploit Committer Team does sign all of their commits, using this procedure. Trust me, it's delightfully fun, especially since barely anyone actually signs commits out in GitHub land. If you would like to validate signatures (and you should!), you'll want to snag that list of Committer Keys, as well.
This document should be enough to get your Metasploit development career started, but it doesn't address huge areas of Git source control management. For that, you'll want to look at the Git Community Book, the many answered questions on StackOverflow, and the git cheat sheet.
Also, we're serious about that word "career" -- if you'd like to work on Metasploit full time, just drop firstname.lastname@example.org a line with your resume and see if there are any current or upcoming openings.
If you are looking for instructions on how to set up a development environment on OS X, please go to the following link: http://www.darkoperator.com/installing-metasploit-framewor/
If you prefer an installation script, you can try the following made by our community contributor Carlos Perez. https://github.com/darkoperator/MSF-Installer
Any issues with the installation script, please contact Carlos, not Rapid7 :-)