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Description of libisofs MD5 checksumming
by Thomas Schmitt -
Libburnia project -
26 Aug 2009
MD5 is a 128 bit message digest with a very low probability to be the same for
any pair of differing data files. It is described in RFC 1321. and can be
computed e.g. by program md5sum.
libisofs can equip its images with MD5 checksums for superblock, directory
tree, the whole session, and for each single data file.
See libisofs.h, iso_write_opts_set_record_md5().
The data file checksums get loaded together with the directory tree if this
is enabled by iso_read_opts_set_no_md5(). Loaded checksums can be inquired by
iso_image_get_session_md5() and iso_file_get_md5().
Stream recognizable checksum tags occupy exactly one block each. They can
be detected by submitting a block to iso_util_decode_md5_tag().
libisofs has own MD5 computation functions:
iso_md5_start(), iso_md5_compute(), iso_md5_clone(), iso_md5_end(),
Representation in the Image
There may be several stream recognizable checksum tags and a compact array
of MD5 items at the end of the session. The latter allows to quickly load many
file checksums from media with slow random access.
The Checksum Array
Location and layout of the checksum array is recorded as AAIP attribute
"" of the root node.
See doc/susp_aaip_2_0.txt for a general description of AAIP and
doc/susp_aaip_isofs_names.txt for the layout of "".
The single data files hold an index to their MD5 checksum in individual AAIP
attributes "". Index I means: array base address + 16 * I.
If there are N checksummed data files then the array consists of N + 2 entries
with 16 bytes each.
Entry number 0 holds a session checksum which covers the range from the session
start block up to (but not including) the start block of the checksum area.
This range is described by attribute "" of the root node.
Entries 1 to N hold the checksums of individual data files.
Entry number N + 1 holds the MD5 checksum of entries 0 to N.
The Checksum Tags
Because the inquiry of AAIP attributes demands loading of the image tree,
there are also checksum tags which can be detected on the fly when reading
and checksumming the session from its start point as learned from a media
The superblock checksum tag is written after the ECMA-119 volume descriptors.
The tree checksum tag is written after the ECMA-119 directory entries.
The session checksum tag is written after all payload including the checksum
array. (Then follows eventual padding.)
The tags are single lines of printable text at the very beginning of a block
of 2048 bytes. They have the following format:
Tag_id pos=# range_start=# range_size=# [session_start|next=#] md5=# self=#\n
Tag_id distinguishes the following tag types
"libisofs_rlsb32_checksum_tag_v1" Relocated 64 kB superblock tag
"libisofs_sb_checksum_tag_v1" Superblock tag
"libisofs_tree_checksum_tag_v1" Directory tree tag
"libisofs_checksum_tag_v1" Session tag
A relocated superblock may appear at LBA 0 of an image which was produced for
being stored in a disk file or on overwritable media (e.g. DVD+RW, BD-RE).
Typically there is a first session recorded with a superblock at LBA 32 and
the next session may follow shortly after its session tag. (Typically at the
next block address which is divisible by 32.) Normally no session starts after
the address given by parameter session_start=.
Session oriented media like CD-R[W], DVD+R, BD-R will have no relocated
superblock but rather bear a table-of-content on media level (to be inquired
by MMC commands).
A relocated superblock which points to the last session. Then the first session
which starts at Logical Block Address 32. The following sessions have the same
structure as the first one.
LBA 0:
<... ECMA-119 System Area and Volume Descriptors ...>
LBA 18:
libisofs_rlsb32_checksum_tag_v1 pos=18 range_start=0 range_size=18 session_start=311936 md5=6fd252d5b1db52b3c5193447081820e4 self=526f7a3c7fefce09754275c6b924b6d9
<... padding up to LBA 32 ...>
LBA 32:
<... First Session: ECMA-119 System Area and Volume Descriptors ...>
libisofs_sb_checksum_tag_v1 pos=50 range_start=32 range_size=18 md5=17471035f1360a69eedbd1d0c67a6aa2 self=52d602210883eeababfc9cd287e28682
<... ECMA-119 Directory Entries (the tree of file names) ...>
LBA 334:
libisofs_tree_checksum_tag_v1 pos=334 range_start=32 range_size=302 md5=41acd50285339be5318decce39834a45 self=fe100c338c8f9a494a5432b5bfe6bf3c
<... Data file payload and checksum array ...>
LBA 81554:
libisofs_checksum_tag_v1 pos=81554 range_start=32 range_size=81522 md5=8adb404bdf7f5c0a078873bb129ee5b9 self=57c2c2192822b658240d62cbc88270cb
<... more sessions ...>
LBA 311936:
<... Last Session: ECMA-119 System Area and Volume Descriptors ...>
LBA 311954:
libisofs_sb_checksum_tag_v1 pos=311954 range_start=311936 range_size=18 next=312286 md5=7f1586e02ac962432dc859a4ae166027 self=2c5fce263cd0ca6984699060f6253e62
<... Last Session: tree, tree checksum tag, data payload, session tag ...>
There are several tag parameters. Addresses are given as decimal numbers, MD5
checksums as strings of 32 hex digits.
gives the block address where the tag supposes itself to be stored.
If this does not match the block address where the tag is found then this
either indicates that the tag is payload of the image or that the image has
been relocated. (The latter makes the image unusable.)
The block address where the session is supposed to start. If this does not
match the session start on media then the volume descriptors of the
image have been relocated. (This can happen with overwritable media. If
checksumming started at LBA 0 and finds range_start=32, then one has to
restart checksumming at LBA 32. See libburn/doc/cookbook.txt
"ISO 9660 multi-session emulation on overwritable media" for background
The number of blocks beginning at range_start which are covered by the
checksum of the tag.
Only with superblock tag and tree tag:
The block address where the next tag is supposed to be found. This is
to avoid the small possibility that a checksum tag with matching position
is part of a directory entry or data file. The superblock tag is quite
uniquely placed directly after the ECMA-119 Volume Descriptor Set Terminator
where no such cleartext is supposed to reside by accident.
Only with relocated 64 kB superblock tag:
The start block address (System Area) of the session to which the relocated
superblock points.
The checksum payload of the tag as lower case hex digits.
The MD5 checksum of the tag itself up to and including the last hex digit of
parameter "md5=".
The newline character at the end is mandatory. After that newline there may
follow more lines. Their meaning is not necessarily described in this document.
One such line type is the scdbackup checksum tag, an ancestor of libisofs tags
which is suitable only for single session images which begin at LBA 0. It bears
a checksum record which by its MD5 covers all bytes from LBA 0 up to the
newline character preceding the scdbackup tag. See scdbackup/README appendix
VERIFY for details.
Usage at Read Time
Checking Before Image Tree Loading
In order to check for a trustworthy loadable image tree, read the first 32
blocks from to the session start and look in block 16 to 32 for a superblock
checksum tag by
iso_util_decode_md5_tag(block, &tag_type, &pos,
&range_start, &range_size, &next_tag, md5, 0);
If a tag of type 2 or 4 appears and has plausible parameters, then check
whether its MD5 matches the MD5 of the data blocks which were read before.
With tag type 2:
Keep the original MD5 context of the data blocks and clone one for obtaining
the MD5 bytes.
If the MD5s match, then compute the checksum block and all following ones into
the kept MD5 context and go on with reading and computing for the tree checksum
tag. This will be found at block address next_tag, verified and parsed by:
iso_util_decode_md5_tag(block, &tag_type, &pos,
&range_start, &range_size, &next_tag, md5, 3);
Again, if the parameters match the reading state, the MD5 must match the
MD5 computed from the data blocks which were before.
If so, then the tree is ok and safe to be loaded by iso_image_import().
With tag type 4:
End the MD5 context and start a new context for the session which you will
read next.
Then look for the actual session by starting to read at the address given by
parameter session_start= which is returned by iso_util_decode_md5_tag() as
next_tag. Go on by looking for tag type 2 and follow above prescription.
Checking the Data Part of the Session
In order to check the trustworthiness of a whole session, continue reading
and checksumming after the tree was verified.
Read and checksum the blocks. When reaching block address next_tag (from the
tree tag) submit this block to
iso_util_decode_md5_tag(block, &tag_type, &pos,
&range_start, &range_size, &next_tag, md5, 1);
If this returns 1, then check whether the returned parameters pos, range_start,
and range_size match the state of block reading, and whether the returned
bytes in parameter md5 match the MD5 computed from the data blocks which were
read before the tag block.
Checking All Sessions
If the media is sequentially recordable, obtain a table of content and check
the first track of each session as prescribed above in Checking Before Image
Tree Loading and in Checking the Data Part of the Session.
With disk files or overwritable media, look for a relocated superblock tag
but do not hop to address next_tag (given by session_start=). Instead look at
LBA 32 for the first session and check it as prescribed above.
After reaching its end, round up the read address to the next multiple of 32
and check whether it is smaller than session_start= from the super block.
If so, expect another session to start there.
Checking Single Files in a Loaded Image
An image may consist of many sessions wherein many data blocks may not belong
to files in the directory tree of the most recent session. Checking this
tree and all its data files can ensure that all actually valid data in the
image are trustworthy. This will leave out the trees of the older sessions
and the obsolete data blocks of overwritten or deleted files.
Once the image has been loaded, you can obtain MD5 sums from IsoNode objects
which fulfill
iso_node_get_type(node) == LIBISO_FILE
The recorded checksum can be obtained by
iso_file_get_md5(image, (IsoFile *) node, md5, 0);
For accessing the file data in the loaded image use
iso_file_get_stream((IsoFile *) node);
to get the data stream of the object.
The checksums cover the data content as it was actually written into the ISO
image stream, not necessarily as it was on hard disk before or afterwards.
This implies that content filtered files bear the MD5 of the filtered data
and not of the original files on disk. When checkreading, one has to avoid
any reverse filtering. Dig out the stream which directly reads image data
by calling iso_stream_get_input_stream() until it returns NULL and use
iso_stream_get_size() rather than iso_file_get_size().
Now you may call iso_stream_open(), iso_stream_read(), iso_stream_close()
for reading file content from the loaded image.
Session Check in a Loaded Image
iso_image_get_session_md5() gives start LBA and session payload size as of
"" and the session checksum as of the checksum array.
For reading you may use the IsoDataSource object which you submitted
to iso_image_import() when reading the image. If this source is associated
to a libburn drive, then libburn function burn_read_data() can read directly
from it.
scdbackup Checksum Tags
The session checksum tag does not occupy its whole block. So there is room to
store a scdbackup stream checksum tag, which is an ancestor format of the tags
described here. This feature allows scdbackup to omit its own checksum filter
if using xorriso as ISO 9660 formatter program.
Such a tag makes only sense if the session begins at LBA 0.
See scdbackup-*/README, appendix VERIFY for a specification.
Example of a scdbackup checksum tag:
scdbackup_checksum_tag_v0.1 2456606865 61 2_2 B00109.143415 2456606865 485bbef110870c45754d7adcc844a72c c2355d5ea3c94d792ff5893dfe0d6d7b
The tag is located at byte position 2456606865, contains 61 bytes of scdbackup
checksum record (the next four words):
Name of the backup volume is "2_2".
Written in year B0 = 2010 (A9 = 2009, B1 = 2011), January (01), 9th (09),
14:34:15 local time.
The size of the volume is 2456606865 bytes, which have a MD5 sum of
The checksum of "2_2 B00109.143415 2456606865 485bbef110870c45754d7adcc844a72c"
is c2355d5ea3c94d792ff5893dfe0d6d7b.
This text is under
Copyright (c) 2009 - 2010 Thomas Schmitt <>
It shall only be modified in sync with libisofs and other software which
makes use of libisofs checksums. Please mail change requests to mailing list
<> or to the copyright holder in private.
Only if you cannot reach the copyright holder for at least one month it is
permissible to modify this text under the same license as the affected
copy of libisofs.
If you do so, you commit yourself to taking reasonable effort to stay in
sync with the other interested users of this text.