Saturday 3:15 p.m.–4 p.m.

Discovering Python

David Beazley

Audience level:


So, what happens when you lock a Python programmer in a secret vault containing 1.5 TBytes of C++ source code and no internet connection? Find out as I describe how I used Python as a secret weapon of "discovery" in an epic legal battle.


In 2005, I was hired to go look at some source code sitting on a machine in a secret vault with no connection to the outside world. What I found was 1.5 TBytes (yes, that's Terabytes) of C++ source code sitting on a Windows XP machine locked within a steel cage. What was it? What did it do? Was it complete? How to make any sense of it? My instructions were to use Windows Notepad. Sitting in the vault, I opened up a windows command shell and typed "python" just for kicks. It sprung to life with a >>> prompt. If by some miracle, the machine vendor had used Python for an OEM tool. It was there! Now, what does one do with nothing more than Python, Notepad, Windows, and all of that C++ source? Everything! In this talk, I'll describe what actually happened in the confines of the secret vault. This will include various software analysis techniques, coding practices, as well as their relation to the ultimate objectives of the project in the broader context of the legal case. I'll do some demos in which I turn all of this around and perform some analysis on the Python source code itself.