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README.md

Build Status Gem Version Dependency Status Security Status Code Climate

Device Input

for the Linux kernel

This is a very basic tool for reading device input events from e.g. /dev/input/event0 in Ruby. For example, in order to see what's happening "on the wire" when a special laptop function key is pressed. While this tool can plausibly be used for the purpose of malicious keystroke logging, it is not well suited for it and does not provide the root privileges in order to read /dev/input.

Once you've given up the privilege to read /dev/input it's game over anyway.

Rationale

/dev/input/eventX is just a character device. Can't we read it with simple Unix tooling? Yes and no. First of all, a character device just means that it passes bytes (not necessarily characters or strings) from userspace into the kernel. Secondarily, the messages (defined as C structs) are in fact binary and not strings or conventional characters.

Since these are C structs (analagous to a binary message), we need to be able to delimit individual messages and decode them. We can't simply read a byte at a time and try to make sense of it. In fact, on my system, /dev/input/event0 refuses any read that is not a multiple of the struct / message size, so we need to know the message size before even attempting a read(), let alone a decode().

To determine the message size, we need to know the data structure. For a long time, it was pretty simple: events are 16 bytes:

  • timestamp - 8 bytes
  • type - 2 bytes
  • code - 2 bytes
  • value - 4 bytes

However, this is only true for 32-bit platforms. On 64-bit platforms, event timestamps became 16 bytes, increasing the size of events from 16 to 24 bytes. This is because a timestamp is defined (ultimately) as two longs, and as everyone knows, two longs don't make a light. No, wait -- it's that longs are bigger on 64-bit platforms. It's easy to remember:

  • 32-bit platform: 32-bit long (4 bytes)
  • 64-bit platform: 64-bit long (8 bytes)

read(/dev/input/event0, 16) will fail on a 64-bit machine.

Your tooling must be aware of this distinction and choose the correct underlying data types just to be able to delimit messages and perform a successful read. This software does that, decodes the message, maps the encoded values to friendly strings for display, and provides both library and executable code to assist in examining kernel input events.

Installation

REQUIREMENTS

  • Ruby >= 2.0

DEPENDENCIES

  • none

Install the gem:

$ gem install device_input # sudo as necessary

Or, if using Bundler, add to your Gemfile:

gem 'device_input', '~> 0.3'

Usage

Executable

$ evdump /dev/input/event0 # sudo as necessary

When the f key is pressed:

EV_MSC:ScanCode:33
EV_KEY:F:1
EV_SYN:SYN_REPORT:0

And released immediately (1=pressed, 0=released):

EV_MSC:ScanCode:33
EV_KEY:F:1
EV_SYN:SYN_REPORT:0
EV_MSC:ScanCode:33
EV_KEY:F:0
EV_SYN:SYN_REPORT:0

How about pretty mode?

$ sudo cat /dev/input/event0 | evdump --print pretty

# f

2017-01-24 05:29:43.923 Misc:ScanCode:33
2017-01-24 05:29:43.923 Key:F:1
2017-01-24 05:29:43.923 Sync:Report:0
2017-01-24 05:29:44.012 Misc:ScanCode:33
2017-01-24 05:29:44.012 Key:F:0
2017-01-24 05:29:44.012 Sync:Report:0

We can pull off the labels and go raw:

$ sudo cat /dev/input/event0 | evdump --print raw

# f

4:4:33
1:33:1
0:0:0
4:4:33
1:33:0
0:0:0

Fulfill your hacker-matrix fantasies:

$ sudo cat /dev/input/event0 | evdump --print hex

# f

00000000588757bd 00000000000046ca 0004 0004 00000021
00000000588757bd 00000000000046ca 0001 0021 00000001
00000000588757bd 00000000000046ca 0000 0000 00000000
00000000588757bd 000000000001a298 0004 0004 00000021
00000000588757bd 000000000001a298 0001 0021 00000000
00000000588757bd 000000000001a298 0000 0000 00000000

Library

require 'device_input'

File.open('/dev/input/event0', 'r') do |dev|
  # this loops forever and blocks waiting for input
  DeviceInput.read_loop(dev) do |event|
    puts event
    # break if event.time > start + 30
  end
end

An event has:

  • #data: Struct of ints (class name Data)
  • #time: Time, accurate to usecs
  • #type: String label, possibly UNK-X where X is the integer from #data
  • #code: String label, possibly UNK-X-Y where X and Y are from #data
  • #value: Fixnum (signed) from #data

You will probably want to write your own read loop for your own project. DeviceInput.read_loop is very simple and can easily be rewritten outside of this project's namespace and adapted for your needs.

Background

Kernel docs

Kernel structs

from https://www.kernel.org/doc/Documentation/input/input.txt

struct input_event {
       struct timeval time;
       unsigned short type;
       unsigned short code;
       unsigned int value;
};

from https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/torvalds/linux.git/tree/include/uapi/linux/input.h#n25

struct input_event {
       struct timeval time;
        __u16 type;
        __u16 code;
        __s32 value;
};

What's a timeval?

struct timeval {
       __kernel_time_t          tv_sec;      /* seconds */
       __kernel_suseconds_t     tv_usec;     /* microseconds */
};

What's a __kernel_time_t?

typedef long            __kernel_long_t;
# ...
typedef __kernel_long_t __kernel_suseconds_t;
# ...
typedef __kernel_long_t __kernel_time_t;

What's a __u16? We're pretty sure it's an unsigned 16 bit integer. Likewise __s32 should be a signed 32-bit integer:

typedef unsigned short __u16;

typedef __signed__ int __s32;

Why is the value signed? It's meant to be able to communicate an "analog" range, say -127 to +127 as determined by the position of a joystick.

Review

input_event

  • time (timeval)
    • tv_sec (long)
    • tv_usec (long)
  • type (__u16)
  • code (__u16)
  • value (__s32)

Flattened: SEC USEC TYPE CODE VALUE

How many bytes is a long? Well, it's platform-dependent. On a 32-bit platform, you get 32 bits (4 bytes). On a 64-bit platform you get 64 bits (8 bytes). This means that the event is 16 bytes on a 32-bit machine and 24 bytes on a 64-bit machine. Software will need to accommodate.

Ruby tools

We can use RbConfig::SIZEOF and Array#pack/String#unpack to help us read these binary structs:

FIELD      C        RbConfig  Pack
---        ---      ---       ---
tv_sec     long     long      l!
tv_usec    long     long      l!
type       __u16    uint16_t  S
code       __u16    uint16_t  S
value      __s32    int32_t   l

Acknowledgments