librsync  2.0.1
File formats


There are two file formats used by librsync and rdiff: the signature file, which summarizes a data file, and the delta file, which describes the edits from one data file to another.

librsync does not know or care about any formats in the data files.

All integers are big-endian.

Magic numbers

All librsync files start with a uint32 magic number identifying them. These are declared in librsync.h:

/** A delta file. At present, there's only one delta format. **/
RS_DELTA_MAGIC = 0x72730236, /* r s \2 6 */
* A signature file with MD4 signatures. Backward compatible with
* librsync < 1.0, but strongly deprecated because it creates a security
* vulnerability on files containing partly untrusted data. See
* <>.
RS_MD4_SIG_MAGIC = 0x72730136, /* r s \1 6 */
* A signature file using the BLAKE2 hash. Supported from librsync 1.0.
RS_BLAKE2_SIG_MAGIC = 0x72730137 /* r s \1 7 */


Signatures consist of a header followed by a number of block signatures.

Each block signature gives signature hashes for one block of block_len bytes from the input data file. The final data block may be shorter. The number of blocks in the signature is therefore


The signature header is (see rs_sig_s_header):

u32 magic;     // either RS_MD4_SIG_MAGIC or RS_BLAKE2_SIG_MAGIC
u32 block_len; // bytes per block
u32 strong_sum_len;  // bytes per strong sum in each block

The block signature contains a rolling or weak checksum used to find moved data, and a strong hash used to check the match is correct. The weak checksum is computed as in rollsum.c. The strong hash is either MD4 or BLAKE2 depending on the magic number.

To make the signatures smaller at a cost of a greater chance of collisions, the strong_sum_len in the header can cause the strong sum to be truncated to the left after computation.

Each signature block format is (see rs_sig_do_block):

u32 weak_sum;
u8[strong_sum_len] strong_sum;

Delta files

TODO( Document delta format.