Getting started

YARA is a multi-platform program running on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X. You can find the latest release at

Compiling and installing YARA

Download the source tarball and get prepared for compiling it:

tar -zxf yara-3.1.0.tar.gz
cd yara-3.1.0

YARA uses GNU autotools, so it’s compiled and installed in the standard way:

sudo make install

Some YARA’s features depends on the OpenSSL library. Those features are built into YARA only if you have the OpenSSL library installed in your system. The configure script will automatically detect if OpenSSL is installed or not. If you want to make sure that YARA is built with OpenSSL-dependant features you must pass --with-crypto to the configure script.

The following modules are not copiled into YARA by default:

  • cuckoo
  • magic

If you plan to use them must pass the corresponding --enable-<module name> arguments to the configure script.

For example:

./configure --enable-cuckoo
./configure --enable-magic
./configure --enable-cuckoo --enable-magic

Modules usually depends on external libraries, depending on the modules you choose to install you’ll need the following libraries:

  • cuckoo:

    Depends on Jansson for parsing JSON. Some Ubuntu and Debian versions already include a package named libjansson-dev, if sudo apt-get install libjansson-dev doesn’t work for you then get the source code from its repository.

  • magic:

    Depends on libmagic, a library used by the Unix standard program file. Ubuntu, Debian and CentOS include a package libmagic-dev. The source code can be found here.

To build and install the yara-python extension:

cd yara-python
python build
sudo python install

You may need to install the Python development package (usually python-dev) before compiling yara-python. Additionally, yara-python depends on the libyara library which gets installed with YARA, so don’t proceed to build yara-python without previously installing YARA as described above.

Installing on Windows

Compiled binaries for Windows in both 32 and 64 bits flavors can be found in the link below. Just download the version of you want, unzip the archive, and put the yara.exe and yarac.exe binaries anywhere in your disk.

To install the yara-python extension download an execute the installer corresponding to the version of Python you’re using.

Download Windows binaries

If you want to build YARA yourself you can use the Visual Studio 2010 project found in the source tree under ./windows/yara.

Installing on Mac OS X with Homebrew

To install YARA using Homebrew simply type brew install yara.

Running YARA for the first time

Now that you have installed YARA you can write a very simple rule and use the command-line tool to scan some file:

echo "rule dummy { condition: true }" > my_first_rule
yara my_first_rule my_first_rule

Don’t get confused by the repeated my_first_rule in the arguments to yara, I’m just passing the same file as both the rules and the file to be scanned. You can pass any file you want to be scanned (second argument).

If everything goes fine you should get the following output:

dummy my_first_rule

Which means that the file my_first_rule is matching the rule named dummy.

If you get an error like this:

yara: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared
object file: No such file or directory

It means that the loader is not finding the libyara library which is located in /usr/local/lib. In some Linux flavors the loader doesn’t look for libraries in this path by default, we must instruct him to do so by adding /usr/local/lib to the loader configuration file /etc/

sudo echo "/usr/local/lib" >> /etc/
sudo ldconfig