4.4. Microsoft compiler toolchain (Win32 native)

To compile Wireshark on Windows using the Microsoft C/C++ compiler, you’ll need:

  1. C compiler (cl.exe)
  2. Assembler (ml.exe for 32-bit targets and ml64.exe for 64-bit targets)
  3. Linker (link.exe)
  4. Make (nmake.exe)
  5. C runtime headers and libraries (e.g. stdio.h, msvcrt.lib)
  6. Windows platform headers and libraries (e.g. windows.h, WSock32.lib)
  1. HTML help headers and libraries (htmlhelp.h, htmlhelp.lib)

4.4.1. Toolchain Package Alternatives

The official Wireshark 1.8.x and 1.10.x releases are compiled using Microsoft Visual C++ 2010 SP1. The official 1.2, 1.4, and 1.6 releases were compiled using Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 SP1. Other past releases, including the 1.0 branch, were compiled using Microsoft Visual C++ 6.0. Using the release compilers is recommended for Wireshark development work. "Express Edition" compilers such as Visual C++ 2010 Express Edition SP1 can be used but any PortableApps packages you create with them will require the installation of a separate Visual C++ Redistributable package on any machine on which the PortableApps package is to be used. See Section 4.4.6, “C-Runtime "Redistributable" Files” below for more details.

However, you might already have a different Microsoft C++ compiler installed. It should be possible to use any of the following with the considerations listed:

Visual C++ 2010 Express Edition (recommended)

IDE + Debugger?
Yes
Purchase required?
Free Download
SDK required for 64-bit builds?
Yes.
config.nmake MSVC_VARIANT
MSVC2010EE
32-bit environment setup
%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\vcvarsall.bat x86
64-bit environment setup
%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\vcvarsall.bat x64
Remarks
Installers created using express editions require a C++ redistributable (vcredist_x86.exe or vcredist_x86.exe).footnoteref[vcredist,vcredist_x86.exe (3MB free download) is required to build Wireshark-win32-1.99.x.exe, and vcredist_x64.exe is required to build Wireshark-win64-1.99.x.exe. The version of vcredist_x86.exe or vcredist_x64.exe must match the version for your compiler including any service packs installed for the compiler.]

Visual Studio 2010

IDE + Debugger?
Yes
Purchase required?
Yes
SDK required for 64-bit builds?
No
config.nmake MSVC_VARIANT
MSVC2010
32-bit environment setup
%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\vcvarsall.bat x86
64-bit environment setup
%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio 10.0\VC\vcvarsall.bat x64_
Remarks
Default compiler in config.nmake. Building a 64-bit installer requires a a C++ redistributable (vcredist_x86.exe).footnoteref[vcredist]

Visual C++ 2008 Express Edition SP1

IDE + Debugger?
Yes
Purchase required?
Free Download
SDK required for 64-bit builds?
64-bit build not supported
config.nmake MSVC_VARIANT
MSVC2008EE
32-bit environment setup
%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\bin\vcvars32.bat
Remarks
Installers created using express editions require a C++ redistributable (vcredist_x86.exe).footnoteref[vcredist]

Visual Studio 2008

IDE + Debugger?
Yes
Purchase required?
Yes
SDK required for 64-bit builds?
64-bit build not supported
config.nmake MSVC_VARIANT
MSVC2008
32-bit environment setup
%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\bin\vcvars32.bat

Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition

IDE + Debugger?
Yes
Purchase required?
Free Download (link disappeared)
SDK required for 64-bit builds?
64-bit build not supported
config.nmake MSVC_VARIANT
MSVC2005EE
32-bit environment setup
%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\VC\bin\vcvars32.bat
Remarks
Installers created using express editions require a C++ redistributable (vcredist_x86.exe).footnoteref[vcredist]

Visual Studio 2005

IDE + Debugger?
Yes
Purchase required?
Yes
SDK required for 64-bit builds?
64-bit build not supported
config.nmake MSVC_VARIANT
MSVC2005
32-bit environment setup
%PROGRAMFILES%\Microsoft Visual Studio 8\VC\bin\vcvars32.bat

4.4.2. Legal issues with MSVC > V6?

Please note: The following is not legal advice - ask your preferred lawyer instead. It’s the author’s view, but this view might be wrong.

The myriad of Win32 support lib port projects all seem to believe there are legal issues involved in using newer versions of Visual Studio. This FUD essentially stems from two misconceptions:

  1. Unfortunately, it is believed by many that the Microsoft Visual Studio 2003 EULA explicitly forbids linking with GPL’ed programs. This belief is probably due to an improper interpretation of the Visual Studio 2003 Toolkit EULA, which places redistribution restrictions only on SOURCE CODE SAMPLES which accompany the toolkit.
  2. Other maintainers believe that the GPL itself forbids using Visual Studio 2003 since one of the required support libraries (MSVCR71.DLL) does not ship with the Windows operating system. This is also a wrongful interpretation, and the GPL FAQ explicitly addresses this issue.

The situation is similar for Visual Studio 2005 and later.

It should be perfectly legal to compile Wireshark, distribute, run it if it was compiled with any MSVC version > V6.

4.4.3. cl.exe (C Compiler)

The following table gives an overview of the possible Microsoft toolchain variants and their specific C compiler versions ordered by release date.

Compiler Package

cl.exe

_MSC_VER

CRT DLL

Visual Studio 2005

8.0

1400

msvcr80.dll

Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition

.NET Framework 2.0 SDK

Windows SDK for Windows Vista and .NET Framework 3.0 Runtime Components

Visual Studio 2008

9.0

1500

msvcr90.dll

Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition

Visual Studio 2010

10.0

1600

msvcr100.dll

After correct installation of the toolchain, typing at the command line prompt (cmd.exe):

> cl

should result in something like:

Microsoft (R) 32-bit C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 15.00.30729.01 for 80x86
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp. All rights reserved.

usage: cl [ option... ] filename... [ /link linkoption...

However, the version string may vary.

4.4.4. nmake.exe (Make)

Nmake is part of the toolchain packages described above.

Instead of using the workspace (.dsw) and projects (.dsp) files, the traditional nmake makefiles are used. This has one main reason: it makes it much easier to maintain changes simultaneously with the GCC toolchain makefile.am files as both file formats are similar. However, as no Visual Studio workspace/project files are available, this makes it hard to use the Visual Studio IDE e.g. for using the integrated debugging feature.

After correct installation, typing at the command line prompt (cmd.exe):

> nmake

should result in something like:

Microsoft (R) Program Maintenance Utility   Version 6.00.9782.0
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corp 1988-1998. All rights reserved.

NMAKE : fatal error U1064: MAKEFILE not found and no target specified
Stop.

However, the version string may vary.

Documentation on nmake can be found at Microsoft MSDN

4.4.5. link.exe (Linker)

4.4.6. C-Runtime "Redistributable" Files

Please note: The following is not legal advice - ask your preferred lawyer instead. It’s the authors view and this view might be wrong.

Depending on the Microsoft compiler version you use, some binary files coming from Microsoft might be required to be installed on Windows machine to run Wireshark. On a developer machine, the compiler setup installs these files so they are available - but they might not be available on a user machine!

This is especially true for the C runtime DLL (msvcr*.dll), which contains the implementation of ANSI and alike functions, e.g.: fopen(), malloc(). The DLL is named like: msvcr’version'.dll, an abbreviation for "MicroSoft Visual C Runtime". For Wireshark to work, this DLL must be available on the users machine.

Starting with MSVC7, it is necessary to ship the C runtime DLL (msvcr’version'.dll) together with the application installer somehow, as that DLL is possibly not available on the target system.

[Note]Make sure you’re allowed to distribute this file

The files to redistribute must be mentioned in the redist.txt file of the compiler package. Otherwise it can’t be legally redistributed by third parties like us.

The following MSDN links are recommended for the interested reader:

In all cases where vcredist_x86.exe or vcredist_x64.exe is downloaded it should be downloaded to the directory into which the support libraries for Wireshark have been downloaded and installed. This directory is specified by the WIRESHARK_LIB_DIR setting in the config.nmake. By default it is C:\wireshark-win32-libs. It need not, and should not, be run after being downloaded.

4.4.6.1. msvcr80.dll / vcredist_x86.exe - Version 8.0 (2005)

There are three redistribution methods that MSDN mentions for MSVC 8 (see "Choosing a Deployment Method"):

  1. Using Visual C++ Redistributable Merge Modules. (Loadable modules for building msi installers. Not suitable for Wireshark’s NSIS based installer)
  2. Using Visual C++ Redistributable Package. The Microsoft libraries are installed by copying vcredist_x86.exe, vcredist_x64.exe, or vcredist_ia64.exe to the target machine and executing it on that machine (MSDN recommends this for applications built with Visual Studio 2005 Express Edition).
  3. Install a particular Visual C++ assembly as a private assembly for the application. The Microsoft libraries are installed by copying the folder content of Microsoft.VC80.CRT to the target directory (e.g. C:\Program Files\Wireshark)

To save installer size, and to make a portable version of Wireshark (which must be completely self-contained, on a medium such as a flash drive, and not require that an installer be run to install anything on the target machine) possible, when building 32-bit Wireshark with MSVC2005, method 3 (copying the content of Microsoft.VC80.CRT) is used (this produces the smallest package).

As MSVC2005EE and DOTNET20 don’t provide the folder Microsoft.VC80.CRT, when 32-bit Wireshark is built with either of them method 2 is used. You’ll have to download the appropriate version of vcredist_x86.exe from Microsoft for your compiler version.

A portable version of 64-bit Wireshark is not built, so method 3 is used for all 64-bit builds. You’ll have to download the appropriate version of vcredist_x64.exe or vcredist_ia64.exe from Microsoft for your target processor and compiler version.

Please send a message to the wireshark-dev mailing list if you find a different version number.

4.4.6.2. msvcr90.dll / vcredist_x86.exe / vcredist_x64.exe - Version 9.0 (2008)

There are three redistribution methods that MSDN mentions for MSVC 9 (see: "Choosing a Deployment Method"):

  1. Using Visual C++ Redistributable Merge Modules. (Loadable modules for building msi installers. Not suitable for Wireshark’s NSIS based installer)
  2. Using Visual C++ Redistributable Package. The Microsoft libraries are installed by copying vcredist_x64.exe or vcredist_x86.exe to the target machine and executing it on that machine (MSDN recommends this for applications built with Visual Studio 2008 Express Edition)
  3. Install a particular Visual C++ assembly as a private assembly for the application. The Microsoft libraries are installed by copying the folder content of _Microsoft.VC90.CRT_to the target directory (e.g. C:\Program Files\Wireshark)

To save installer size and to make a portable version of Wireshark (which must be completely self-contained, on a medium such as a flash drive, and not require that an installer be run to install anything on the target machine) possible, when building 32-bit Wireshark with MSVC2008, method 3 (copying the content of Microsoft.VC90.CRT) is used (this produces the smallest package).

As MSVC2008EE doesn’t provide the folder Microsoft.VC90.CRT, when 32-bit Wireshark is built with it method 2 is used. You’ll have to download the appropriate version of vcredist_x64.exe from Microsoft for your compiler version.

A portable version of 64-bit Wireshark is not built, so method 2 is used for all 64-bit builds. You’ll have to download the appropriate version of vcredist_x86.exe from Microsoft for your compiler version.

Please send a message to the wireshark-dev mailing list if you find a different version number.

4.4.6.3. msvcr100.dll / vcredist_x86.exe / vcredist_x64.exe - Version 10.0 (2010)

There are three redistribution methods that MSDN mentions for MSVC 10 (see: "Choosing a Deployment Method"):

  1. Using Visual C++ Redistributable Package. The Microsoft libraries are installed by copying vcredist_x64.exe or vcredist_x86.exe to the target machine and executing it on that machine (MSDN recommends this for applications built with Visual Studio 2010, both Express Edition and non-Express editions)
  2. Using Visual C++ Redistributable Merge Modules. (Loadable modules for building msi installers. Not suitable for Wireshark’s NSIS based installer)
  3. Install a particular Visual C++ assembly as a private assembly for the application. The Microsoft libraries are installed by copying the folder content of Microsoft.VC100.CRT to the target directory (e.g. C:\Program Files\Wireshark)

To save installer size, and to make a portable version of Wireshark (which must be completely self-contained, on a medium such as a flash drive, and not require that an installer be run to install anything on the target machine) possible, when building 32-bit Wireshark with MSVC2010, method 3 (copying the content of Microsoft.VC100.CRT) is used (this produces the smallest package).

As MSVC20010EE doesn’t provide the folder Microsoft.VC100.CRT, when 32-bit Wireshark is built with it method 1 is used. You’ll have to download the appropriate version of vcredist_x64.exe from Microsoft that corresponds to your compiler version.

A portable version of 64-bit Wireshark is not built, so method 1 is used for all 64-bit builds. You’ll have to download the appropriate version of vcredist_x86.exe from Microsoft for your compiler version.

Please report to the developer mailing list, if you find a different version number!

4.4.7. Windows (Platform) SDK

The Windows Platform SDK (PSDK) or Windows SDK is a free (as in beer) download and contains platform specific headers and libraries (e.g. windows.h, WSock32.lib, etc.). As new Windows features evolve in time, updated SDK’s become available that include new and updated APIs.

When you purchase a commercial Visual Studio, it will include an SDK. The free (as in beer) downloadable C compiler versions (VC++ 2012 Express, VC++ 2012 Express, etc.) do not contain an SDK — you’ll need to download a PSDK in order to have the required C header files and libraries.

Older versions of the SDK should also work. However, the command to set the environment settings will be different, try search for SetEnv.* in the SDK directory.

Prior to Windows Vista, the name "Platform SDK" was used; starting with Vista, the name was changed just to "Windows Software Development Kit" or "Windows SDK". The full names of the SDKs can be misleading; for example, the SDK for Vista was called the "Microsoft Windows Software Development Kit for Windows Vista and .NET Framework 3.0 Runtime Components", which really means the Windows SDK for Windows Vista and Platforms (like WinXP) that have the .NET 3.0 runtime installed.

4.4.8. HTML Help

HTML Help is used to create the User’s and Developer’s Guide in .chm format and to show the User’s Guide as the Wireshark "Online Help".

Both features are currently optional, and might be removed in future versions.

4.4.8.1. HTML Help Compiler (hhc.exe)

This compiler is used to generate a .chm file from a bunch of HTML files — in our case to generate the User’s and Developer’s Guide in .chm format.

The compiler is only available as the free (as in beer) "HTML Help Workshop" download. If you want to compile the guides yourself, you need to download and install this. If you don’t install it into the default directory, you may also have a look at the HHC_DIR setting in the file docbook/Makefile.

4.4.8.2. HTML Help Build Files (htmlhelp.c / htmlhelp.lib)

The files htmlhelp.c and htmlhelp.lib are required to be able to open .chm files from Wireshark and show the online help. Both files are part of the SDK (standalone (P)SDK or MSVC since 2002).

Simply set HHC_DIR in config.nmake to use it.

4.4.9. Debugger

Using a good debugger can save you a lot of development time.

The debugger you use must match the C compiler Wireshark was compiled with, otherwise the debugger will simply fail or you will only see a lot of garbage.

4.4.9.1. Visual Studio integrated debugger

You can use the integrated debugger of Visual Studio if your toolchain includes it. However, setting up the environment is a bit tricky, as the Win32 build process uses makefiles instead of the .dsp/.dsw files usually used.

4.4.9.2. Debugging Tools for Windows

You can also use the Microsoft Debugging Tools for Windows toolkit, which is a standalone GUI debugger. Although it’s not that comfortable compared to debugging with the Visual Studio integrated debugger it can be helpful if you have to debug on a machine where an integrated debugger is not available.

You can get it free of charge at: http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/devtools/debugging/default.mspx (as links to Microsoft pages change from time to time, search for "Debugging Tools" at their page if this link happens to be outdated).