Netlink, auditing, and counting bytes

In which we find bugs in both the kernel and userspace parts of the Linux audit subsystem.

I’ve been messing around with Linux auditing lately, because of reasons, and ended up having to replicate most of libaudit, because of other reasons, and in the process I found bugs in both the kernel and userspace parts of the Linux audit subsystem.

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On dinosaurs and context

Some of you may know that the 2020 Hugo Award ceremony was held last night¹ and that it was hosted by George R. R. Martin. Some of you may have heard that it did not go well. Some of you may already know what happened, more or less. I watched it live, and unsurprisingly, I have opinions.

This post is not a blow-by-blow account of events or any sort of clever analysis or deep thoughts on how to move forward. Better minds than mine have already taken care of that; see for instance Natalie Luhrs’s take on the affair. Instead, I would like to offer a little bit of context for those who heard what happened (or watched it happen) and have a vague idea that it was bad but do not understand why everybody is so upset and do not want to jump down the rabbit hole of SFF fandom drama.

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Time for my annual “oh shit, I forgot to bump the copyright year again” round-up!

In the F/OSS community, there are two different philosophies when it comes to applying copyright statements to a project. If the code base consists exclusively (or almost exclusively) of code developed for that specific project by the project’s author or co-authors, many projects will have a single file (usually named LICENSE) containing the license, a list of copyright holders, and the copyright dates or ranges. However, if the code base incorporates a significant body of code taken from other projects or contributed by parties outside the project, it is customary to include the copyright statements and either the complete license or a reference to it in each individual file. In my experience, projects that use the BSD, ISC, MIT, adjacent licenses tend to use the latter model regardless.

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DNS over TLS in FreeBSD 12

With the arrival of OpenSSL 1.1.1, an upgraded Unbound, and some changes to the setup and init scripts, FreeBSD 12, currently in beta, now supports DNS over TLS out of the box. We show how to set it up and discuss its advantages and disadvantages.

With the arrival of OpenSSL 1.1.1, an upgraded Unbound, and some changes to the setup and init scripts, FreeBSD 12.0, currently in beta, now supports DNS over TLS out of the box.

DNS over TLS is just what it sounds like: DNS over TCP, but wrapped in a TLS session. It encrypts your requests and the server’s replies, and optionally allows you to verify the identity of the server. The advantages are protection against eavesdropping and manipulation of your DNS traffic; the drawbacks are a slight performance degradation and potential firewall traversal issues, as it runs over a non-standard port (TCP port 853) which may be blocked on some networks. Let’s take a look at how to set it up.

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Twenty years

Yesterday was the twentieth anniversary of my FreeBSD commit bit, and tomorrow will be the twentieth anniversary of my first commit. I figured I’d split the difference and write a few words about it today.

My level of engagement with the FreeBSD project has varied greatly over the twenty years I’ve been a committer. There have been times when I worked on it full-time, and times when I did not touch it for months. The last few years, health issues and life events have consumed my time and sapped my energy, and my contributions have come in bursts. Commit statistics do not tell the whole story, though: even when not working on FreeBSD directly, I have worked on side projects which, like OpenPAM, may one day find their way into FreeBSD.

My contributions have not been limited to code. I was the project’s first Bugmeister; I’ve served on the Security Team for a long time, and have been both Security Officer and Deputy Security Officer; I managed the last four Core Team elections and am doing so again this year.

In return, the project has taught me much about programming and software engineering. It taught me code hygiene and the importance of clarity over cleverness; it taught me the ins and outs of revision control; it taught me the importance of good documentation, and how to write it; and it taught me good release engineering practices.

Last but not least, it has provided me with the opportunity to work with some of the best people in the field. I have the privilege today to count several of them among my friends.

For better or worse, the FreeBSD project has shaped my career and my life. It set me on the path to information security in general and IAA in particular, and opened many a door for me. I would not be where I am now without it.

I won’t pretend to be able to tell the future. I don’t know how long I will remain active in the FreeBSD project and community. It could be another twenty years; or it could be ten, or five, or less. All I know is that FreeBSD and I still have things to teach each other, and I don’t intend to call it quits any time soon.