Older blog entries for bagder (starting at number 786)

Don’t email me

Why I insist on people to keep issues on the mailing list(s)

A recent twitter discussion I had with Andrei Neculau contributed to his blog post on this subject, basically arguing that I’m wrong but with many words and explanations.

It triggered me to write up my primary reasons for why I strongly object to handle open source issues, questions and patches privately (for free) in open source projects that I have a leading role in.

1. I spend a considerable amount of my spare time on open source projects. I devote some 15-20 unpaid hours a week for those communities. By emailing me and insisting on a PRIVATE conversation you’re suddenly yanking the mutex flag and you’re now requesting that I spend parts of this time on YOU ALONE and not the rest of the community. That’s selfish.

2. By insisting on a private conversation you FORCE me to repeat myself since ideas and questions are rarely unique or done for the first time. So you have a problem or a question that’s very similar to one I just responded to. And the next person will ask the same one tomorrow. By insisting on doing them in public already in the first email, already the second person can read it without me having to write it twice. And the third person who didn’t even realize he was interested in that topic will find out and read it as well (either now when the mail gets sent out or even years later when that user find the archived mailing list on the web). Private emails deny that ability. That’s selfish.

3. By emailing me privately and asking questions and help, you assume that I am the single best person to ask this question at this given time. What if I happen to be on vacation, be under a rough period at work or just not know the particular area of the project very good. I may be the leader or a public person of a project, but I may still not know much about feature X for operating system Z about which you ask. Ask on the list at once and you’ll reach the correct person. That’s more efficient.

4. By emailing me privately, you indirectly put a load on me to reply – or to get off as a rude person. Yes you’re friendly and you ask me nicely and yet even after you remind me after a few days I STILL DON’T RESPOND. Even if I just worked five 16-hour work days and you asked questions I don’t know the answer to… That’s inefficient and rude.

5. Using pull requests on github? That could’ve been good if github would’ve been better. Right now, posting a pull request will only send that to the few persons who are listed as “collaborators” for that repository – which may reach more than a single person so it still better than to a private person but on the mailing list there may be THOUSANDS of people that can read and comment and provide feedback on patches and issues. That’s inefficient and forces OTHERS to have to do the work instead and forward stuff to the list.

6. Yes, you can say that subscribing to an email list can be daunting and flood you with hundreds or thousands of emails per month – that’s completely true. But if you only wanted to send that single question or submit the single issue, then you can unsubscribe again quite soon and escape most of that load. Then YOU do the work instead of demanding someone else to do it for you. When you want to handle a SINGLE issue, it is much better load balancing if you do the extra work and the people who do tens or HUNDREDS of issues per month in the project do less work per issue.

7. You’re suggesting that I could forward the private question to the mailing list? Yes I can, but then I need to first ask for permission to do so (or be a jerk) and if the person who sent me the mail is going to send me another mail anyway, (s)he can just as well spend that time to send the first mail to the list instead of say YES to me and then make me do his or hers work. It’s just more efficient. Also, forwarded questions tend to end up so that replies and follow-up questions don’t find their way back to the original poster and that’s bad.

8. I propose and use different lists for different purposes to ease the problem with too many (uninteresting) emails.

Syndicated 2013-10-08 20:41:47 from daniel.haxx.se

Bye bye Nexus 10 it was fun while it lasted

In the middle of my otherwise happy summer vacation, my Nexus 10 had a serious case of depression and took a nose-dive from a little over a meter above floor level and crashed into the mighty fine stone tiles. It got some serious damage and there are cracks all over the screen.

Nexus 10A while ago I posted a service request on Samsung’s site to get it fixed (they manufacture the Nexus-10s and the device have a product number and everything in Samsung’s systems), and they responded and directed me to my nearest “quick support center” for screen and display repairs. The nearest one happens to be located just a few hundred meters from where I work these days.

Today I stepped in there and asked to get my screen fixed.

- “It’ll cost you some 2000-3000 SEK” one of the two service guys says at once. Clearly not really wanting to fix it.

- “Eh, that’s a bit unspecific. Can you tell me with some better accuracy?” I reply. After all, I didn’t pay an awful lot more than 3000 SEK for it as new – in the US and I wanted to figure out if a repair would be worth the money.

- “Okay”, he says and leaves the room through a door and is gone for a while.

- “Do you have the serial number for it?” the guys says returning and yeah, I brought it there in its original box and the serial number is there. The guy leaves again.

- “Did you buy that device here?” He’s back. Without really specifying where “here” means but I figured he means in Sweden so I of course had to tell him

- “No, it’s purchased in the US”

- “Then we can’t fix it.” and then he explains how they can’t order the parts necessary for the device and that’s it. Nothing to do. They can’t.

Okay, so I knew there’s always a risk when “grey-importing” so I’m not really very upset. I’m mostly baffled by their response and also by the fact that there apparently is something different with the Nexus 10 display if it was bought in the US – or at least they say so.

We still have another Nexus 10 in the family and I’m ordering a 2nd gen Nexus 7 now to replace this dead thing with…

Syndicated 2013-08-22 20:26:14 from daniel.haxx.se

Testing curl_multi_socket_action

We’re introducing a brand new way to test the event-based socket_action API in libcurl! (available in curl since commit 6cf8413e3162)

Background

Since 2006 we’ve had three major API families in libcurl for doing file transfers:

  1. the easy interface – a synchronous and yes, easy, interface for getting things done
  2. the multi interface – a non-blocking interface that allows multiple simultaneous transfers (in both directions) in the same thread
  3. the socket_action interface – a brother of the multi interface but designed for  use with an event-based library/engine for high performance and large scale transfers

The curl command line tool uses the easy interface and our test suite for curl + libcurl consists of perhaps 80% curl tests, while the rest are libcurl-using programs testing both the easy interface and the multi interface.

Early this year we modified libcurl’s internals so that the functions driving the easy interface transfer would use the multi interface internally. Then all of a sudden all the curl-using tests using the easy interface also then by definition tested that the operation worked fine with the multi interface. Needless to say, this pushed several bugs up to the surface that we could fix.

So the multi and the easy interfaces are tested by many hundred test cases on a large number of various systems every day around the clock. Nice! But what about the third interface? The socket_action interface isn’t tested at all! Time to change this sorry state.

Event-based test challenges

The event-based API has its own set of challenges; like it needs to react on socket state changes (only) and allow smooth interactions with the user’s own choice of event library etc. This is our newest API family and also the least commonly used. One reason for this may very well be that event-based coding is generally harder to do than more traditional poll-based code. Event-based code forces the application into using state-machines all over to a much higher degree and the frequent use of callbacks easily makes the code hard to read and its logic hard to follow.

So, curl_multi_socket_action() acts in ways that aren’t done or even necessary when the regular select-oriented multi interface is used. Code that then needs to be tested to remain working!

Introducing an alternative curl_easy_perform

As I mentioned before, we made the general multi interface widely tested by making sure the easy interface code uses the multi interface under the hood. We can’t easily do the same operation again, but instead this time we introduce a separate implementation (for debug-enabled builds) called curl_easy_perform_ev that instead uses the event-based API internally to drive the transfer.

The curl_multi_socket_action() is meant to use an event library to work really well multi-platform, or something like epoll directly if Linux-only functionality is fine for you. curl and libcurl is quite likely among the most portable code you can find so after having fought with this agony a while (how to introduce event-based testing without narrowing the tested platforms too much) I settled on a simple but yet brilliant solution (I can call it brilliant since I didn’t come up with the idea on my own):

We write an internal “simulated” event-based library with functionality provided by the libcurl internal function Curl_poll() (the link unfortunately goes to a line number, you may need to move around in the file to find the function). It is in itself a wrapper function that can work with either poll() or select() and should therefor work on just about any operating system written since the 90s, and most of the ones since before that as well! Doing such an emulation code may not be the most clever action if the aim would be to write a high performance and low latency application, but since my objective now is to exercise the API and make an curl_easy_perform clone it was perfect!

It should be carefully noted that curl_easy_perform_ev is only for testing and will only exist in debug-enabled builds and is therefor not considered stable nor a part of the public API!

Running event-based tests

The fake event library works with the curl_multi_socket_action() family of functions and when curl is invoked with –test-event, it will call curl_easy_perform_ev instead of curl_easy_perform and the transfer should then work exactly as without –test-event.

The main test suite running script called ‘runtests.pl’ now features the option -e that will run all ~800 curl tests with –test-event. It will skip tests it can’t run event-based – basically all the tests that don’t use the curl tool.

Many sockets is slow if not done with events

This picture on the right shows some very old performance measurements done on libcurl in the year 2005, but the time spent growing exponentially when the amount of sockets grow is exactly why you want to use something event-based instead of something poll or select based.

See also my document discussing poll, select and event-based.

Syndicated 2013-08-20 14:39:44 from daniel.haxx.se

Subject: Complaint

A person unknown to me sent me this email. I don’t know why he/she sent this to me or how he/she thought I would be a person that can help out. The language used says machine-translation to me given some of the very weird language constructs used.

It doesn’t look like a scam nor spam to me. A mystery.

Dear,

Kindly I need your support and help is very urgent isse, I have account in Skype has been Hacr today by

[the name used here is withdrawn, possibly a nick name or skype account name?]

And Introduced me two syllables where I speak to him and introduced me the names of people I know where the deployment section as well as my wife threatened to publish pictures where I’m not sure that happened, my family pictures

I hope you help me solve the problem so as not being destroyed my family life, and to take the necessary measures and inform the authorities as I have known it from Qatar

Please call me for confirmation for help on 123-0123456789

Syndicated 2013-08-10 20:29:35 from daniel.haxx.se

dotdot removal in libcurl 7.32.0

Allow as much as possible and only sanitize what’s absolutely necessary.

That has basically been the rule for the URL parser in curl and libcurl since the project was started in the 90s. The upside with this is that you can use curl to torture your web servers with tests and you can handicraft really imaginary stuff to send and thus subsequently to receive. It kind of assumes that the user truly gives curl a URL the user wants to use.

Why would you give curl a broken URL?

But of course life and internet protocols, and perhaps in particular HTTP, is more involved than that. It soon becomes more complicated.

Redirects

Everyone who’s writing a web user-agent based on RFC 2616 soon faces the fact that redirects based on the Location: header is a source of fun and head-scratching. It is defined in the spec as only allowing “absolute URLs” but the reality is that they were also provided as relative ones by web servers already from the start so the browsers of course support that (and the pending HTTPbis document is already making this clear). curl thus also adopted support for relative URLs, meaning the ability to “merge” or “add” a relative URL onto a previously used absolute one had to be implemented. And even illegally constructed URLs are done this way and in the grand tradition of web browsers, they have not tried to stop users from doing bad things, they have instead adapted and now instead try to convert it to what the user could’ve meant. Like for example using a white space within the URL you send in a Location: header. Even curl has to sanitize that so that it works more like the browsers.

Relative path segments

The path part of URLs are truly to be seen as a path, in that it is a hierarchical scheme where each slash-separated part adds a piece. Like “/first/second/third.html”

As it turns out, you can also include modifiers in the path that have special meanings. Like the “..” (two dots or periods next to each other) known from shells and command lines to mean “one directory level up” can also be used in the path part of a URL like “/one/three/../two/three.html” which equals “/one/two/three.html” when the dotdot sequence is handled. This dot removal procedure is documented in the generic URL specification RFC 3986 (published January 2005) and is completely protocol agnostic. It works like this for HTTP, FTP and every other protocol you provide a path part for.

In its traditional spirit of just accepting and passing along, curl didn’t use to treat “dotdots” in any particular way but handed it over to the server to deal with. There probably aren’t that terribly many such occurrences either so it never really caused any problems or made any users hit any particular walls (or they were too shy to report it); until one day back in February this year… so we finally had to do something about this. Some 8 years after the spec saying it must be done was released.

dotdot removal

Alas, libcurl 7.32.0 now features (once it gets released around August 12th) full traversal and handling of such sequences in the path part of URLs. It also includes single dot sequences like in “/one/./two”. libcurl will detect such uses and convert the path to a sequence without them and continue on. This of course will cause a limited altered behavior for the possible small portion of users out there in the world who would use dotdot sequences and actually want them to get sent as-is the way libcurl has been doing it. I decided against adding an option for disabling this behavior, but of course if someone would experience terrible pain and can reported about it convincingly to us we could possible reconsider that decision in the future.

I suspect (and hope) this will just be another little change along the way that will make libcurl act more standard and more like the browsers and thus cause less problems to users but without people much having to care about how or why.

Further reading: the dotdot.c file from the libcurl source tree!

Bonus kit

A dot to dot surprise drawing for you and your kids (click for higher resolution)

curl dot-to-dot

Syndicated 2013-07-30 21:40:53 from daniel.haxx.se

Another embedded hacking day

enea We started off this second embedded hacking day (the first one being the one we had in October) when I sent out the invitation email on April 22nd asking people to sign up. We limited the number of participants to 40, and within two hours all seats had been taken! Later on I handed out more tickets so we ended up with 49 people on the list and interestingly enough only 13 of these were signed up for the previous event as well so there were quite a lot of newcomers.Daniel Stenberg, a penguin

Arrival

At 10 in the morning on Saturday June 1st, the first people had already arrived and more visitors were dropping in one by one. They would get a goodie-bag from our gracious host with t-shirt (it is the black one you can see me wearing on the penguin picture on the left), some information and a giveaway thing. This time we unfortunately did not have a single female among the attendees, but the all-male crowd would spread out in the room and find seating, power and switches to use. People brought their laptops and we soon could see a very wide range of different devices, development boards and early design ideas showing up on the tables. Blinking leds and cables everywhere. Exactly the way we like it!

A table full of hackers and equipment!

Giveaway

A USB wifi thing

We decided pretty early on the planning for this event that we wouldn’t give away a Raspberry Pi again like we did last time. Not that it was a bad thing to give away, it was actually just a perfect gift, but simply because we had already done that and wanted to do something else and we reasoned that by now a lot of this audience already have a Raspberry pi or similar device.

So, we then came up with a little device that could improve your Raspberry Pi or similar board: a USB wifi thing with Linux drivers so that you easily can add wifi capabilities to your toy projects!

And in order to provide something that you can actually hack on during the event, we decided to give away an Arduino Nano version. Unfortunately, the delivery gods were not with us or perhaps we had forgot to sacrifice the correct animal or something, so this second piece didn’t arrive in time. Instead we gathered people’s postal addresseAns and once the package arrives in a couple of days we will send it out to all attendees. Sort of a little bonus present afterwards. Not the ideal situation, but hey, we did our best and I think this is at least a decent work-around.

So the fun begun

In the big conference room next to the large common room, I said welcome to everyone at 11:00 before I handed over to Magnus from Xilinx to talk about Xilinx Zynq and combining ARM and FPGAs. Magnus Lindblad, Xilinx The crowd proved itself from the first minute and Magnus got a flood of questions immediately. Possibly it was also due to the lovely combo that Magnus is primarily a HW-guy while the audience perhaps was mostly SW-persons but with an interest in lowlevel stuff and HW and how to optimize embedded systems etc.

Audience listening to Magnus

After this initial talk, lunch was served.

Contest

I got lots of positive feedback the last time on the contest I made then, so I made one this time around as well and it was fun again. See my separate post on the contest details.

Flying

After the dust had settled and everyones’ pulses had started to go back to normal again after the contest, Björn Stenberg “took the stage” at 14:00 and educated us all in how you can use 7 Arduinos when flying an R/C plane.

Björn talks about open source flying

Björn Stenberg, a penguin

It seemed as if Björn’s talk really hit home among many people in the audience and there was much talking and extra interest in Björn’s large pile of electronics and “stuff” that he had brought with him to show off. The final video Björn showed during his talk can be found here.

Stuff to eat

Buns for the masses!People actually want to get something done too during a day like this so we can’t make it all filled up with talks. Enea provided candy, drinks and buns. And of course coffee and water during the entire day.

Even with buns and several coffee refills, I think people were slowly getting soft in their brains when the afternoon struck and to really make people wake up, we hit them with Erik Alapää’s excellent talk…

Aliasing in C and C++

Or as Erik specified the full title: “Aliasing in C99/C++11 and data transfer between hard real-time systems on modern RISC processors”…

Erik helped put the light on some sides of the C programming language that perhaps aren’t the most used or understood. How aliasing can be used and what pitfalls it can send us down into!

Erik Alapää on C aliasing

Kjell Ericson's blinking ledsPersonally I don’t really had a lot of time or comfort to get much done this day other than making sure everything ran smooth and that everyone was happy and the schedule was kept. My original hopes was to get some time to do some debugging on a few of my projects during the day but I failed that ambition…

We made sure to videofilm all the talks so we should hopefully be able to provide online versions of them later on.

Real-time Linux

I took the last speaker slot for the day. I think lots of brains were soft by then, and a few people had already started to drop off. I talked for a while generically about how the real-time problem (or perhaps low-latency) is being handled with Linux these days and explained a bit about PREEMPT_RT and full dynamic ticks and what the differences of the methods are.

Daniel Stenberg talks Real-time Linux

The end

At 20:00 we forced everyone out of the facilities. A small team of us grabbed a bite and a couple of beers to digest the day and to yap just a little bit more before we split up for the evening and took off home…

Thank you everyone who was there for making it another great event. Thank you all speakers for giving the event the extra brightness! Thank you Enea for sponsoring, hosting and providing all the goodies in such an elegant manner! It is indeed possible that we make a 3rd embedded hacking day in the future…

Syndicated 2013-06-03 16:29:03 from daniel.haxx.se

Embedded hacking contest #2, decoded

Okay, so here are the correct answers to the embedded hacking #2 contest (click for larger pictures):

The contests correct answers marked

The fact that you get the clues as hexadecimal uppercase ASCII was pretty quickly clear to everybody. I found it interesting to hear how people attacked the problem of decoding the hex into letters. Most people seem to have made a lookup-table fairly soon, and at least one contestant I talked to made a mistake in his table that turned W into X instead! This year’s winner did the conversion completely without a written down table…

So all the pieces are decoded like this:

The final question

Of course, now a pedant would argue that FORK() isn’t correct, but I decided to use all uppercase just to make the conversion slightly easier. At least I think converting only uppercase ASCII as hex is easier. So the question is “What does fork() return in the child process?”

The answer to the question is 0 (zero). Short and simple. See fork’s man page.

Linus Nielsen Feltzing is the happy winner!

After 13 minutes and 20 seconds since I clicked start on the timer, Linus Nielsen Feltzing approached me with a little note with the correct answer and we had a winner!

The very happy Linus was very disappointed in the previous competition when he was very close to winning but was beaten just within seconds by last time’s winner.

Now, the Chromebook that Enea donated to the winner of the contest was handed over to Linus. (The Samsung Cortex-A15 version.)

Syndicated 2013-06-03 11:56:31 from daniel.haxx.se

Embedded hacking contest #2

eneaI created another contest for the Embedded hacking event we just pulled off again, organized with foss-sthlm and Enea. Remember that I made one previously at our former hacking day?

The lesson from that time was that the puzzle ingredient then was slightly too difficult so people had to work a bit too long. It made many people give up and the ones who didn’t had to spend a significant time on solving it.

This time, I decided to use the same basic principle: ask N questions that all provide hints for the (N+1)th question, so that the first one to give me the answer to that final question is the winner. It makes it very easy for me to judge and it is a rather neat competition style game. I decided 10 questions should be enough.

To reduce some of the complexity from last time, I decided to provide the individual clues in the correct chronological order but instead add another twist: they aren’t in plain text! But since they’re chronological, the participants can go back and quite “easily” try other alternatives if there are some strange words appearing in the output. I made sure that all alternatives always have fine English alternatives so that if you pick the wrong answer it might still sound or look like English for a while…

I was very happy to see over 30 persons in the room that decided to accept the challenge. I suspect the prize did its part in attracting people to give it a go.

The rules in slightly longer terms as I put them (click it to see a higher resolution version):

the rules

And I clarified how the questions work:

the-questions

I then started my timer, and I showed all the questions on the projector to everyone. I gave them around 40 seconds per question. It thus took almost seven minutes to go through them and then I left a final slide up showing all questions:

The 10 questions

To allow readers to give this contest a go first before checking the answers. See the full answer and explanation.

A room full of competitive hackers

Syndicated 2013-06-03 06:47:55 from daniel.haxx.se

tailmatching them cookies

A brand new libcurl security advisory was announced on April 12th, which details how libcurl can leak cookies to domains with tailmatch. Let me explain the details.

(Did I mention that security is hard?)

cookiecurl first implemented cookie support way back in the early days in the late 90s. I participated in the IETF work that much later documented how cookies work in real life. I know how cookies work, and yet this flaw still existed in the curl cookie implementation for over 13 years. Until someone spotted it. And once again that sense of gaaaah, how come we never saw this before!! came over me.

A quick cookie 101

When cookies are used over HTTP, it is (if we simplify things a little) only a name = value pair that is set to be valid a certain domain and a path. But the path is only specifying the prefix, and the domain only specifies the tail part. This means that a site can set a cookie that is for the entire site that is under the path /members so that it will be sent by the brower even for /members/names/ as well as for /members/profile/me etc. The cookie will then not be sent to the same domain for pages under a different path, such as /logout or similar.

A domain for a cookie can set to be valid for example.org and then it will be sent by the browser also for www.example.org and www.sub.example.org but not at all for example.com or badexample.org.

Unless of course you have a bug in the cookie tailmatching function. The bug libcurl had until 7.30.0 was released made it send cookies for the domain example.org also to sites that would have the same tail but a different prefix. Like badexample.org.

Let me try a story on you

It might not be obvious at first glance how terrible this can become to users. Let me take you through an imaginary story, backed up by some facts:

Imagine that there’s a known web site out there on the internet that provides an email service to users. Users login on a form and they read email. Or perhaps it is a social site. Preferably for our story, the site is using HTTP only but this trick can be done for most HTTPS sites as well with only a mildly bigger effort.

This known and popular site runs its services on ’site.com’. When you’re logged in to site.com, your session is a cookie that keeps getting sent to the server and the server sometimes updates the contents and sends it back to the browser. This is the way millions of sites work.

As an evil person, you now register a domain and setup an attack server. You register a domain that has the same ending as the legitimate site. You call your domain ‘fun-cat-and-food-pics-from-site.com’ (FCAFPFS among friends).

anattackMr evil person also knows that there are several web browsers, typically special purpose ones for different kinds of devices, that use libcurl as its base. (But it doesn’t have to be a browser, it could be other tools as well but for this story a browser fits fine.) Lets say you know a person or two who use one of those browsers on site.com.

You send a phishing email to these persons. Or post a funny picture on the social site. The idea is to have them click your link to follow through to your funny FCAFPFS site. A little social engineering, who on the internet can truly resist funny cats?

The visitor’s browser (which uses a vulnerable libcurl) does the wrong “tailmatch” on the domain for the session cookie and gladly hands it off to the attacker site. The attacker site could then use that cookie to access site.com and hijack the user’s session. Quite likely the attacker would immediately change password or something and logout/login so that the innocent user who’s off looking at cats will get a “you are logged-out” message when he/she returns to site.com…

The attacker could then use “password reminder” features on other sites to get emails sent to site.com to allow him to continue attacking the user’s other accounts on other services. Or if site.com was a social site, the attacker would post more cat links and harvest more accounts etc…

End of story.

Any process improvements?

For every security vulnerability a project gets, it should be a reason for scrutinizing what went wrong. I don’t mean in the actual code necessarily, but more what processes we lack that made the bug sneak in and remain in there for so long without being detected.

What didn’t we do that made this bug survive this long?

Obviously we didn’t review the code properly. But this is a tricky beast that was added a very long time ago, back in the days when the project was young and not that many developers were involved. Before we even had a test suite. I do believe that we have slightly better reviews these days, but I will also claim that it is far from sure that we would detect this flaw by a sheer code review.

Test cases! We clearly lacked the necessary test case setup that tested the limitations of how cookies are supposed to work and get sent back and forth. We’ve added a few new ones now that detect this particular flaw fine, but I think we have reasons to continue to search for various kinds of negative tests we should do. Involving cookies of course, but also generally in other areas of the curl project.

Of course, we’re all just working voluntarily here on spare time so we can’t expect miracles.

(an attack, picture by Andy Gardner)

Syndicated 2013-04-15 09:38:48 from daniel.haxx.se

Monitoring my voip line

Ping Communication Voice Catcher 201EMy “landline” phone in my house is connected over voip through my fiber and I’m using the service provided by Affinity Telecom. A company I never heard of before and I can only presume it is a fairly small one.

Everything is working out fine, apart from one annoying little glitch: every other month or so my phone reports itself as either busy to a caller (or just as if nobody picks up the phone) and the pingcom NetPhone Adapter 201E voip box I have needs to be restarted for the phone line to get back to normal (I haven’t figured out if the box or the service provider is the actual villain).

In my household we usually discover the problem after several days of this situation since we don’t get many calls and we don’t make many calls. (The situation is usually even notable on the voip box’s set of led lights as they are flashing when they are otherwise solid but the box is not put in a place where we notice that either.) Several days of the phone beeping busy to callers is a bit annoying and I’ve decided to try to remedy that somehow. Luckily the box has a web interface that allows me to admin it and check status etc, and after all, I know a tool I can use to script HTTP to the thing, extract the status and send me a message when it needs some love!

Okay, so I just need to “login” to the box and get the status page and extract the info for the phone line and I’m done. I’ve done this dozens if not hundreds of times on sites all over the net the last decade. I merrily transferred the device info page “http://pingcom/Status/Device_Info.shtml” with curl and gave it a glance…

Oh. My. God. This is a little excerpt from the javascript magic that handles the password I enter to login to the web interface:

    /*
     * Get the salt from the router
     */
    (code gets salt from a local URL)

    var salt = xml_doc.textdoc;
    /*
     * Append the password to the salt
     */
     var input = salt + password;
    /*
     * MD5 hash of the salt.
     */
    var hash = hex_md5(input);
    /*
     * Append the MD5 hash to the salt.
    */
    var login_hash = salt.concat(hash);
    /*
     * Send the login hash to the server.
     */
    login_request = new ajax_xmlhttp("/post_login.xml?user=" + escape(username) + "&hash=" +
         escape(login_hash), function(xml_doc)

    [cut]

Ugha! So it downloads a salt, does hashing, salting and md5ing on the data within the browser itself before it sends it off to the server. That’s is so annoying and sure I can probably replicate that logic in a script language of my choice but it is going to take some trial and error until the details are all sorted out.

Ok, so I do the web form login with my browser again and start to look at what requests it does and so on in order to be able to mimic them with curl instead. I then spot that when viewing that device info page, it makes a whole series of HTTP requests that aren’t for pictures and not for the main HTML… Hm, at a closer look it fetches data from a bunch of URLs ending with “.cgi”! And look, among those URLs there’s one in particular that is called “voip_line_state.cgi”. Let me try to get just that and see what that might offer and what funny auth dance I may need for it…

curl http://pingcom/voip_line_state.cgi

And what do you know? It returns a full XML of the voip status, entirely without any login or authentication required:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
<LineStatus channel_count="2">
  <Channel index="0" enabled="1">
    <SIP state="Up">
      <Name>0123456789</Name>
      <Server>sip.example.org</Server>
    </SIP>
    <Call state="Idle"></Call>
  </Channel>
  <Channel index="1" enabled="0"></Channel>
</LineStatus>

Lovely! That ‘Idle’ string in there in the <Call> tag is the key. I now poll the status and check to see the state in order to mail myself when it looks wrong. Still needs to be proven to actually trigger during the problem but hey, why wouldn’t it work?

The final tip is probably the lovely tool xml2, which converts an XML input to a “flat” output. That output is perfect to use grep or sed on to properly catch the correct situation, and it keeps me from resorting to the error-prone concept of grepping or regexing actual XML. After xml2 the above XML looks like this:

/LineStatus/@channel_count=2
/LineStatus/Channel/@index=0
/LineStatus/Channel/@enabled=1
/LineStatus/Channel/SIP/@state=Up
/LineStatus/Channel/SIP/Name=012345679
/LineStatus/Channel/SIP/Server=sip.example.org
/LineStatus/Channel/Call/@state=Idle
/LineStatus/Channel
/LineStatus/Channel/@index=1
/LineStatus/Channel/@enabled=0

Now I’ll just have to wait until the problem hits again to see that my scripts actually work… Once proven to detect the situation, my next step will probably be to actually maneuver the web interface and reboot it. I’ll get back to that later..

Syndicated 2013-04-06 14:35:52 from daniel.haxx.se

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