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Can you recommend a hex editor that can be run from shell? I need to be able to edit not only view the content.

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I think you can do it using vim – Deepal Sep 12 '13 at 13:00

6 Answers 6

up vote 8 down vote accepted

emacs has a hexl-mode for hex editing.

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hexl-mode isn't suitable for large files or disk partitions, since it loads the whole file into an emacs buffer. It's great for small files if you're already comfortable with emacs. – Peter Cordes Feb 15 at 23:36
@PeterCordes, for editing a disk, simply dd the region you want to edit into a file and open that in emacs, then dd it back. – psusi Feb 17 at 15:21
@psusi The problem is, I shouldn't have to go to that effort to edit a file – Cole Johnson Nov 11 at 3:54
@ColeJohnson, we aren't talking about editing a file; we're talking about editing an entire raw hard disk. – psusi Nov 11 at 23:15
@psusi On my Windows machine, I can use HxD and open up a disk just like any other file. – Cole Johnson Nov 15 at 6:54

There is also DHEX

apt-cache show dhex

ncurses based hex editor with diff mode

This is more than just another hex editor: It includes a diff mode, which can be used to easily and conveniently compare two binary files. Since it is based on ncurses and is themeable, it can run on any number of systems and scenarios. With its utilization of search logs, it is possible to track changes in different iterations of files easily.

If you are not familiar with vim or emacs, this one doesn't seem to have much of a learning curve.

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This tool is the most commonly available I have found for this type of task. You can remove the ascii readable part on the right if needed using using -p and you can revert (change ascii input to binary data) using the -r function. Here are some simple example uses:

Converting to hex with ascii view:

echo example|xxd

Converting to a hexdump (no ascii view on the right):

echo example|xxd -p

Converting from a hexdump back to binary data:

echo 746573740a|xxd -p -r

You can get much more complex with this in shell scripts. I have actually used this and "dd" to scan for specific sequences and modify them in a predefined fashion all from a shell script using nothing but bash, dd, and xxd. You actually don't need dd for this either as you can "seek" to a specific location and write to that location the byte sequence you need. The biggest advantage to this approach is its easily scriptable.

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You might be able to use vi as a hex editor too (it can call xxd). Here is a link to the info.

Using vi as a hex editor

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Bless Hex Editor is a is a binary (hex) editor and currently provides the following features:

  • Efficient editing of large data files and block devices.
  • Multilevel undo - redo operations.
  • Customizable data views.
  • Fast data rendering on screen.
  • Multiple tabs.
  • Fast find and replace operations.
  • A data conversion table.
  • Advanced copy/paste capabilities.
  • Highlighting of selection pattern matches in the file.
  • Plugin based architecture.
  • Export of data to text and html (others with plugins).
  • Bitwise operations on data.
  • A comprehensive user manual.

You can dounload it from here:

To install it, see How to install a .deb file via the command line?

Need more?

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The question is asking for a command line editor. – psusi Sep 12 '13 at 13:39
@psusi No, the OP asked about a hex editor that can be run from shell, not inside shell/terminal. It can be run from shell using bless command after is installed. – Radu Rădeanu Sep 12 '13 at 14:05
There is nothing you can not run from the shell; he wouldn't have mentioned it unless he meant command line. – psusi Sep 12 '13 at 17:50

Try hexed, it's made for use in scripts and make files.

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