Wireshark-dev: Re: [Wireshark-dev] Adding IEEE 802.15.4 DLT for meta data?
From: James Ko <[email protected]>
Date: Thu, 10 Jan 2019 19:10:00 +0000
Thanks Guy,

I submitted my request for a link-type assignment but I see that the DLT_PPI is generic enough to extend support for IEEE 802.15.4 packets as well with new field types.  The approach there is is similar to what I am proposing but the field types defined in the PPI are aggregate blocks of a not small number of parameters/values instead of a single or few related values per type.  Perhaps that is just a factor of the IEEE802.11 specification that the values are tightly coupled.


From: Wireshark-dev <[email protected]> on behalf of Guy Harris <[email protected]>
Sent: Monday, January 7, 2019 13:50
To: Developer support list for Wireshark
Subject: Re: [Wireshark-dev] Adding IEEE 802.15.4 DLT for meta data?
On Jan 7, 2019, at 1:18 PM, James Ko <[email protected]> wrote:

> There are ongoing proposal in pcapng format for adding generic wireless meta data options to the enhanced packet block (EPB) and invariant (or seldom changing) capture interface meta data to a new capture interface block (CIB).
> https://github.com/pcapng/pcapng/pull/51 and  https://github.com/pcapng/pcapng/pull/56
> I see  that 802.11 has several DLT types for including metadata.  (DLT_PRISM_HEADER, DLT_IEEE802_11_RADIO, & DLT_IEEE802_11_RADIO_AVS)

Yes.  Personally, I think that's two too many - three, actually, with DLT_PPI - but there are historical reasons for them.  I'd like to see radiotap pick up all of the 802.11-specific things PPI does, at which point PPI's remaining capabilities should probably be picked up either by other link-layer header types or by pcapng options.

> I would like to propose one or more DLT types for including 802.15.4 meta-data.

I'd prefer "one" to "or more".

> Defining a new DLT type instead of relying on PCAPNG out of band data enables adding the additional information to pcap sources as well.

Yes.  My inclination, by default, is to put the metadata in the link-layer header, with a new link-layer header type assigned, rather than use pcapng for this.

> Preference of course is to have only one DLT type with type/length/value (TLV) for each meta data object just as pcapng deals with options.  However creating different DLT types may make more sense for the various MACs defined in IEEE802.15.4 (i.e. TSCH-MAC specific).  The new DLT would encapsulate the existing packet-ieee802154.c dissector as the last option.

If the metadata is mostly MAC-specific, that'd probably mean either

        1) the MAC type as the first item in the metadata, followed by MAC-specific metadata


        2) multiple link-layer header types.

Presumably a single interface will always have the same MAC type, so that, in the multiple link-layer header types case, the interface can be given a specific link-layer header type.

> Any advice/comments on how to proceed or not proceed?  Shall I go just ahead and create the dissector with a new DLT type and submit it for code-review to solicit feedback?

The procedure for assigning a link-layer header type is outlined at the beginning of


Note that the first thing you start with is *not* code to parse the header, it's a specification of the header, independent of code.  All the specs on the tcpdump.org site, or linked to from the tcpdump.org site, should be sufficient for somebody to write code to parse the header without ever looking at tcpdump or Wireshark code.
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