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Installing Plugins

The IDA Way

IDA provides a single way to install plugins - stick them in the plugins subdirectory and you're good to go.

While this is great for compiled plugins, as your build scripts can place the newly compiled plugin there for you, it is not as comfortable when using scripted plugins. Forgetting to copy the latest version, or updating the code in the plugins directory instead of your repository can both lead to annoying problems and waste precious time.

Moreover, access to the plugins directory requires root access.

The Sark Way

To combat the limitations of IDAs plugin loading mechanism, Sark provides the plugin_loader.py plugin. Once installed (in the classic IDA way) it allows you to define plugin-lists - a system-wide list and a user-specific list - to be loaded automatically.

The lists are simple, consisting of full-paths and line-comments:

C:\Plugins\my_plugin.py

# This is a comment. Comments are whole lines.
C:\OtherPlugins\another_plugin.py

Both lists are named plugins.list and are automatically created by IDA as empty lists at the following locations:

System-Wide
Under IDA's cfg subdirectory. The path can be found using idaapi.idadir(idaapi.CFG_SUBDIR). This list requires root access to modify as it is in IDA's installation directory.
User-Specific
Under IDA's user-directory. $HOME/.idapro on Linux, %appdata/%HexRays/IDA Pro on Windows. The path can be found using idaapi.get_user_idadir(). Each user can set his own plugins to load, thus eliminating the need for root access.

To install your plugins, just add them to one of the lists. This allows you to easily update plugins as you go without ever needing to copy them.