PCAP_LOOP(3) Library Functions Manual PCAP_LOOP(3)
pcap_loop, pcap_dispatch - process packets from a live capture or savefile
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);
pcap_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 processed 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 ``savefile'' 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 buffer 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 undefined; 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 arguments: 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/link-
types.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
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 Eth-
ernet. 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.
pcap_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 filter, 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 packets 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.
pcap(3), pcap_geterr(3), pcap_breakloop(3), pcap_datalink(3)
13 October 2013 PCAP_LOOP(3)