The Ascendance of nftables

The Sun sets on iptables (image by fdecomite, CC BY 2.0)

iptables is the default Linux firewall and packet manipulation tool. If you’ve ever been responsible for a Linux machine (aside from an Android phone perhaps) then you’ve had to touch iptables. It works, but that’s about the best thing anyone can say about it.

At Red Hat we’ve been working hard to replace iptables with its successor: nftables. Which has actually been around for years but for various reasons was unable to completely replace iptables.  Until now.

What’s Wrong With iptables?

iptables is slow. It processes rules linearly which was fine in the days of 10/100Mbit ethernet. But we can do better, and nftables does; it uses maps and concatenations to touch packets as little as possible for a given action.

Most of nftables’ intelligence is in the userland tools rather than the kernel, reducing the possibility for downtime due to kernel bugs. iptables puts most of its logic in the kernel and you can guess where that leads.

When adding or updating even a single rule, iptables must read the entire existing table from the kernel, make the change, and send the whole thing back. iptables also requires locking workarounds to prevent parallel processes from stomping on each other or returning errors. Updating an entire table requires some synchronization across all CPUs meaning the more CPUs you have, the longer it takes. These issues cause problems in container orchestration systems (like OpenShift and Kubernetes) where 100,000 rules and 15 second iptables-restore runs are not uncommon. nftables can update one or many rules without touching any of the others.

iptables requires duplicate rules for IPv4 and IPv6 packets and for multiple actions, which just makes the performance and maintenance problems worse. nftables allows the same rule to apply to both IPv4 and IPv6 and supports multiple actions in the same rule, keeping your ruleset small and simple.

If you’ve every had to log or debug iptables, you know how awful that can be. nftables allows logging and other actions in the same rule, saving you time, effort, and cirrhosis of the liver. It also provides the “nft monitor trace” command to watch how rules apply to live packets.

nftables also uses the same netlink API infrastructure as other modern kernel systems like /sbin/ip, the Wi-Fi stack, and others, so it’s easier to use in other programs without resorting to command-line parsing and execing random binaries.

Finally, nftables has integrated set support with consistent syntax rather than requiring a separate tool like ipset.

What about eBPF?

You might have heard that eBPF will replace everything and give everyone a unicorn. It might, if/when it gets enhancements for accountability, traceability, debuggability, auditability, and broad driver support for XDP. But nftables has been around for years and has most (all?) of these things today.

nftables Everywhere

I’d like to highlight the great work by members of my team to bring nftables over the finish line:

  • Phil Sutter is almost done with compat versions of arptables and ebtables and has been adding testcases everywhere. He also added a JSON interface to libnftables (much like /sbin/ip) for easier programmatic use which firewalld will use in the near future.
  • Eric Garver updated firewalld (the default firewall manager on Fedora, RHEL, and other distros) to use nftables by default. This change alone will seamlessly flip the nftables switch for countless users. It’s a huge deal.
  • Florian Westphal figured out how to make nftables and iptables NAT coexist in the kernel. He also fixed up the iptables compat commands and handles the upstream releases to make sure we can actually use this stuff.
  • And of course the upstream netfilter community!

Thanks iptables; it’s been a nice ride. But nftables is better.


Blue sky, white sand, and NetworkManager 0.9.2

The view as I type 'git tag 0.9.2'... (shazwan cc-by-2.0)

There’s no better way to celebrate the release of NetworkManager 0.9.2 than a sip of ice-cold cocktail.  It’s something pink-colored — I don’t know what — and it’s phenomenal.  And if I ever run out, I just ring a bell and somebody fills it up!  It’s basically like Paradise, except Paradise doesn’t have the latest version of NetworkManager.  Here’s a hot tip: make your first half billion and buy yourself a private island.  Then move there and write open-source software for fun.  It’s a pretty great life.  After a hard day on the beach bending networks to my will, I wind down by building buried hatches solely to confuse the island’s next owner (I’m trading up to a private archipelago in a few years).

But I digress.  So many people contributed to this release.  Unfortunately they couldn’t all fly out to my private island for the release party so I’ll just have to call them out by name instead.  I’m sure they’ll take Internet fame as a consolation prize, right?  So a huge thanks to Alfredo Matos, Colin Walters, Dan Winship, David Rothlisberger, Evan Broder, Florian Echtler, Gary Ching-Pang Lin, Jirí Klimeš, Larry Reaves, Ludwig Nussel, Mathieu Trudel-Lapierre, Michael Stapelberg, Thomas Bechtold, Thomas Graf, Thomas Jarosch, Tore Anderson, Michael Biebl, Vincent Untz, Anders Feder, Giovanni Campagna, Murilo Opsfelder, David Woodhouse, all our translators, and all our testers.  It wouldn’t have happened without you.

This release packs in some great stuff aside from the usual bug fixes and pixie dust: translated country names in the mobile broadband provider wizard, VPN details in the applet’s Connection Information dialog, auto-unlocking of GSM modems, support for libnl2 and libnl3, better IPv6 handling, enhancements for nmcli, rfkill fixes for EeePCs, GObject Introspection updates, better cooperation with unmanaged devices, timestamps for VPN connections, increased dnsmasq cache size, and more.  Get your tarballs on:

0.9.4: a Smörgåsbord of Freaking Awesome

What’s even more exciting is what’s all piled up for 0.9.4.  We’ve killed WEXT and now use the more robust nl80211 for talking to well-behaved kernel drivers.  We’ve uncoupled IPv4 and IPv6 addressing so that when one completes the connection is usable while we wait for the other one to complete or time out.  We’ve added bonding support, and VLANs and bridges are next.  We’ll have better firewall interaction.  We’ll probably have connectivity detection as well.  Many of these features are finished and merged to git master already.

Hey, 0.8.6 is out too!

If you’re into anachronisms, then we’ve got another release for you too.  0.8.6 got tagged earlier this week, and it’s got IPv6 fixes, auto-unlocking of GSM modems, improved usability of IP address and routing entry in the editor, notifications of mobile broadband changes, VPN information in the Connection Information dialog, better handling of gadget devices, retry of Ethernet connections on carrier bounces, allowing certificate paths in keyfile plugins, MAC address blacklists, on-the-fly recognition of newly installed VPN plugins, subject verification of 802.1x certificates, builds without PolicyKit, and much more.

So really it’s just raining NetworkManager goodness.  Except here on my island, where it’s always sunny, breezy, and absolutely perfect.  Time for another drink.  Cheers.

When the Sun Shines We’ll Shine Together

Everyone loves NetworkManager 0.9 (Beverly & Pack, cc-by-2.0)

Hurray!  It’s finally out: NetworkManager 0.9.  Thanks to a ton of help from almost 150 contributors and countless testers we’ve reached a new level of awesome.  Let’s drop some recap on y’all:

Peace be with your network

Fast User Switching

This release debuts full support for fast user switching, a long-requested feature that makes the networking experience on multi-user computers butter-smooth.  As a result of the simplified 0.9 architecture, each user gets their own network applet and each applet can control networking independently, provided that user has permissions to do so.  If you switch and the new active user doesn’t have permissions for a connection, it’s terminated.  It’s as simple as that and works just like you’d expect.


Roam Free (by raneko, cc-by-2.0)

Optimized WiFi Roaming

When connected to a large unified WiFi network, like a workplace, university, or hotel, NetworkManager 0.9 enhances roaming behavior as you move between locations.  By using the background scanning and nl80211 features in wpa_supplicant 0.7 and later, you’ll notice fewer drops in connectivity and better signal quality in large networks.  Most kernel drivers will now provide automatic updates of new access points and enhanced connection quality reporting, allowing wpa_supplicant to quickly roam to the best access point when the current access point’s quality degrades and not before.  Yay!  Fewer dropped frames when you’re watching the YouTube Top 100.



Are you one of the 70 million and growing WiMAX users?  Got an Intel WiMAX card in your laptop?  Great!  NetworkManager 0.9 lets you jump on blazing fast WiMAX speeds while you’re on the go.  Put that hardware to work: simply pick your provider from the menu, and you’ll be connected automatically when WiMAX is on.


Made of Easy (katieharbath, cc-by-nc-sa-2.0)

Flexible Permissions

Wait, you haven’t taught little Tommy the value of hard-earned cash? Well until you do, you can restrict your metered 3G to everyone but Tommy so he doesn’t run up the bill playing stupid Flash games or poke around with your work email over the VPN.  Or if you’re a sysadmin, you can roll out the same network configuration to multiple users and be sure that unauthorized users can’t connect to networks they shouldn’t be able to.  The combination of connection permissions and flexible PolicyKit-based authorization lets you manage your computer the way you want.


Consolidated Configuration

No longer do we have multiple settings services storing information in different formats and locations.  Instead, all network connection information is stored by NetworkManager itself leading to faster network connections and simpler configuration.  Applications now have one place to look for network configuration instead of two; one place to update instead of two; one place to monitor for changes instead of two; you get the picture.  More features in half the code, yo.


It'll be our little secret (katietegtmeyer, cc-by-2.0)

Flexible Secrets

Passwords for any connection can now be stored securely in each user’s session or in privileged system connection storage.  If you’re a bit paranoid you can choose to enter any password every time you connect instead of saving it.  For system administrators this means you can have one connection for all users even if each user’s password is different or they use On-Time-Pad tokens.  By default sensitive secrets (like VPN and 802.1x passwords) are stored in the user’s session while generic ones (like WiFi passphrases, etc) are stored system-wide to balance privacy and usability.  If you’ve got a different idea of balance, it’s trivial to open it up or lock it down just as much as you like.  If you’re on a mobile device and you just don’t care, you can leave everything to NetworkManager and ignore user sessions completely.


Simplified D-Bus API

Consolidation of the API makes it radically simpler for applications to respond to network changes, be smarter about what networks you’re connected to, and how you’re connected to them.  It’s trivial to figure out if you’re at home or at work and to do the right thing, so now there’s really no excuse to make your application do what your users expect.  And it’s easier to write cool new network applets and configuration UI too.  Go wild.  Make your apps sing.


GObject Introspection

Want to use NetworkManager from applications that aren’t written in C or C++?  With the GObject Introspection it’s trivial to use the NetworkManager convenience libraries from Python or JavaScript or any other introspection-enabled language.  Start writing lickable new applets or make your app network aware in the easiest way possible.

const NMClient =;
client =;
if (client.state == NetworkManager.State.CONNECTED_GLOBAL)
    print "You're connected!"


Developers and Distros

Because it’s a change in D-Bus and libnm-glib API, we’ve prepared a migration guide for developers.  If your app just cares about whether you’re connected to the network and how, here are some example patches.  Distro packagers should check for the latest versions of chat, backup, browser, mail, etc programs since they probably have had NM 0.9 support for months.  As always, there’s a bunch of developer information and API documentation on the website and wiki.  If you don’t find what you’re looking for, tell us how to improve!


Networking is never done (j4hnb, cc-by-2.0)

120 Proof for the Future

But this much awesome just isn’t enough.  Always looking forward, NetworkManager is primed for great new features like connectivity detection, captive portal auto-login, network zones, automatic firewall and proxy management, new hardware support, and more.  As a result of the API cleanup done for 0.9, NM is ready for the next wave of great features that will actually make your life better.  A faster, more robust release process will ensure these features get to you more quickly.  If we’ve done our job, you won’t even notice that NetworkManager is there; but it will be, saving the planet one network at a time.

Yo Berlin!

Lock up your booze and your network cards (in that order), I’m hitting up Berlin for Desktop Summit.  I’ll be talking about network and location awareness in your application on Sunday, which is thinly veiled code for how to make NetworkManager and ModemManager tell you where you are and how to get where you want to go.  I’ll also be hosting a BOF (with Will Stephenson, hopefully) on Wednesday afternoon in which you can alternatively deride and praise networking on Linux.  If you don’t attend, I will be supremely disappointed and you can be assured WiFi access points will shun your feeble attempts at association.  Otherwise let the summitting begin.

The Incredible Magical Pantech UML290

The Basics

Along with the LG VL600 this modem was the launch device for the Verizon 4G LTE network late last year.  Despite being quite large (over twice the size of a normal 3G modem) it’s not a bad device and performs quite well in speed tests.  Inside is a Qualcomm MDM9600 chipset providing both CDMA  1xRTT and EVDO on the standard North American 850 MHz Cellular and 1900 MHz PCS bands, and LTE on Verizon’s Upper 700 MHz C-block band.  This device cannot roam internationally.

Linux Support

The UML290 exposes four USB interfaces: a standard CDC-ACM AT command port which supports PPP, a QCDM port, a WMC port, and a raw IP network port.  Of these, only the AT command and the QCDM ports are really usable in Linux.  You can connect to the LTE network using standard ETSI 27.007 GSM-style AT commands like AT+CGDCONT and ATD#99* and such.  Connections to the 3G EVDO network can be made with the standard ATD#777 command.  Unfortunately, the PPP functionality does not support data connection handoff between the EVDO and LTE networks, so you have to break the connection and reconnect with the appropriate ATD command when necessary.  Why is that?

To allow seamless operation between the EVDO and LTE networks Verizon upgraded parts of their core network to eHRPD.  HRPD (High Rate Packet Data) is the new name for HDR (High Data Rate) which was the old name for the IS-856 standard developed by Qualcomm ten years ago for high speed 3G packet data.  EVDO (Evolution Data Only) is just the marketing name for all that.  eHRPD stands for “evolved” or “enhanced” HRPD and essentially drops in pieces of the LTE core network modified to work with older EVDO protocols.  Normally your device uses the eHRPD protocol when starting a data session since both the network and the modem support it.  But when you use traditional CDMA PPP via ATD#777 the session is between pppd on your computer and the packet data gateway in the network, in contrast to GSM/WCDMA/LTE where the PPP session is only between pppd and the modem itself, not over the air.  My theory here is that to maintain backwards compatibility or for some other reason, PPP data sessions using ATD#777 only allow HRPD, and thus handoffs between EVDO and LTE don’t work because the LTE side doesn’t like the older HRPD.

This leads to the problem where you, as the user, have to poke values into the NV_HDRSCP_FORCE_AT_CONFIG_I NVRAM item to manually switch between HRPD and eHRPD just to get connected.  Why does this matter?  Because the only way to connect to the EVDO network on Linux is with a direct PPP data session using ATD#777.  That sucks.

All Hail WMC (wait, what?)

Hardware often makes me want to dress all in black, sit at the end of the bar, drink, and cry.  Often Matthew Garrett is right there with me so at least I have company on my trip to black, black oblivion.  The hope is that talking to the UML290 on the WMC port and using the modem’s native network interface makes this stupid handoff problem just go away because the modem firmware takes care of the data session protocols and handoffs when you’re not using direct PPP.  But that means that we need to reverse engineer both the WMC protocol and the network interface.  I’ll drink to that.

It turns out the network interface appears to just be passing raw IP packets over USB.  At least that’s what the Windows USB traces tell me unless I’ve had to much Jacky D in which case they just look like Care Bears and rainbows.  Qualcomm posted some driver patches for the “smd_rmnet” driver for Android devices that describe a “raw IP” mode for RMNET interfaces that lead me to believe I’m on the right track here.  We’ll see.

The WMC bits are the best part though.  This Pantech-specific (as far as I can tell) protocol that has been around at least since 2005 since I’ve got an Audiovox PC5740 that uses it and a Pantech PX-500 on Sprint that looks similar yet different.  WMC is just another binary protocol; essentially encoding structs on the wire but with a bunch of stupid at the front and some idiot at the end.  It’s got a frame start marker of 0xC8, except when there’s more shit at the front.  It’s got a frame terminator of 0x7E, except when it doesn’t.  It gets HDLC escaped, except when even control characters get escaped instead of just the escape characters.  It’s got standard command numbers, except when it doesn’t.

The basic WMC frame starts with 0xC8.  The PC5740 and the PX-500 both accept plain WMC requests like this.  The UML290 on the other hand uses just about the most convoluted format I can think of.  I’d really love to know why.  I hope there’s a good reason.  Instead the Verizon connection manager sends the WMC packet prefixed with “AT*WMC=”, then 0xC8, and then a bunch of binary data.  And not only are the HDLC escape characters escaped, all control characters under 0x20 are escaped too.  Even better, the request terminates with a 0x0D instead of the standard 0x7E.  So you end up with something looking like this:


and when all the framing and shit is removed, it comes down to a single byte: 0x0A.  That’s it.  Really.  Why is this so hard?  It’s USB for crying out loud.  We’re not on serial links anymore where if somebody picks up the telephone downstairs you get a bunch of garbage in your XMODEM transfer.

It gets better.  There’s a CRC-16 at the end, which is pretty standard with these sorts of binary modem protocols.  Qualcomm writes the original firmware for all these modems anyway and they all include a Qualcomm DIAG port which speaks a protocol using the standard HDLC framing with CRC-16 (polynomial 0x8408 and seed of 0xFFFF) and a frame terminator of 0x7E.  So you’d think they’d re-use those bits.  THINK AGAIN.  Perhaps because they woke up one day and decided to make life hard for everyone on the planet, the Pantech engineers working on the UML290 decided to use a CRC-16 initial seed of 0xAAFE.  What the fuck?  Even the PC5740 and the PX-500 use a standard HDLC CRC-16 seed of 0xFFFF like just about everything else on the planet.

But it gets better.  The responses from the UML290 don’t bother to include a valid CRC-16; instead it’s just 0x3030.  Wow, class work guys.  I’m sure there’s good reason for that.  Or not.  At least the PC5740 and PX-500 get points for valid CRCs.

Which begs the question: why do people still use these serial protocols?  Every other piece of USB-connected wireless hardware I’ve seen, from WiFi devices to WiMAX cards, don’t bother with this serial framing shit at all.  Even for firmware uploads.  They just push packed structs up and down the wire.  USB already has a 16-bit CRC check for data packets.  Let’s re-invent the wheel for no good reason just because it’s fun.

Why do mobile broadband modems have to be different?  Why all the framing and escaping and general eye gouging with shards broken glass?  Why duplicate what USB already does?  If your modem doesn’t use USB, doesn’t that protocol already have integrity protection and error checking?  Cause if it doesn’t you’re already in for a world of hurt.

As an embedded engineer you just have to wake up one morning and say “This is fucking stupid.”  But I suppose that’s not something a 6-month product cycle allows.  Which is why, as open-source engineers that have to talk to hardware, we tend to drink.  And then cry a lot.

NetworkManager and Dual-stack Addressing

Dodge the pig! (via the|G|™ under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The big reason that NetworkManager 0.9 is slower to connect than NM 0.8 is that we flipped IPv6 addressing on by default.  That means that when you connect to a new network and that network supports IPv6 autoconfiguration via router advertisements you’ll get IPv6 connectivity.  But if that network doesn’t support IPv6 then you’ll spin for 60 seconds or so waiting for a router advertisement because there’s nothing on the network that listens to the IPv6 autoconf solicitations that the kernel puts out when the link comes up.  You can fix that but changing the IPv6 addressing method to “Ignore” in nm-connection-editor if you know your network doesn’t support IPv6.

Why don’t we bring up IPv4 and just wait for IPv6 to happen in the background?  That’s a great question; I’m glad I asked it.  First, it requires some small changes in NetworkManager’s D-Bus interface to add connected states for both IPv4 and IPv6 simultaneously so that applications can listen for when each stack’s connectivity is available.  That’s trivial.  It could be done tomorrow.  It’s not a technical problem at all.

But second, it requires applications to be smarter about what resources they require and to do smart things when those resources aren’t available.  And that apparently happens when solid gold pigs start dropping out of the sky.  I hope you have falling-gold-pig insurance for your car.  But app authors often don’t make their applications smarter and more network aware because hey, that’s more work for them, and hey, people haven’t requested this yet, and hey, that’s one more D-Bus API I need to depend on and I don’t know what else.

NetworkManager says it’s connected via a global “State” property.  That property is a logical OR of both IPv4 and IPv6 connectivity.  If one is connected then the State property is NM_STATE_CONNECTED.  Great, right?  But if NM flips the state to CONNECTED when IPv4 completes but IPv6 is still waiting, then your favorite IRC application will try to connect to your IPv6-enabled IRC server.   Except IPv6 isn’t up yet so it fails.  And you get mad because shit doesn’t magically work.

And then what happens if IPv6 fails?  Do we fail the entire connection?  Or do we just keep listening for IPv6 router advertisements and when one comes in configure the interface?  Currently there’s a setting called ‘failure fatal’ for both IPv4 and IPv6 that lets you determine that behavior; it defaults to TRUE for IPv4 and FALSE for IPv6 since so many networks don’t yet have IPv6 enabled.  But this really is something we shouldn’t have to care much about.

And that brings us back to applications.  When NetworkManager adds dual-stack connected state, which is actually pretty trivial to do, the applications have to listen to that and care so that your life is better.  If the app has an IPv6 address and NM indicates that IPv6 isn’t yet available, the app needs to wait until NM says it is available.  Same for IPv4.  The problem is that nobody ever seems to bother with this sort of intelligence at the application level, but that’s where it’s really needed, since the connection manager has no idea what servers you’re connecting to and whether or not they are IPv4 or IPv6.

As a side rant about application intelligence, apps should also allow you to associate resources (like internal VPN-only mail servers) with NetworkManager VPN connection UUIDs so that they only check the mail on your corporate VPN when NM says your VPN connection is up.  You can do that now.  It’s been there for years.  But nobody bothers to write that sort of useful support into applications either.  Where does the application’s responsibility for intelligence begin?  Useful insights on where that line gets drawn are most welcome.  So are comments about how hot Colin Walter’s mom is.

NetworkManager 0.9, Pidgin, and tinc


As a reply to Andrew’s comments about NM 0.9 and Pidgin, I wrote patches a while back of which one got commited and a second is pending.

tinc and VPN plugins

Andrew also talked about tinc and how he’d love if it had NetworkManager integration.

NetworkManager expects quite a bit out of VPN services; they cannot simply be dumb services that expect everything to be statically configured for every user on the system.  Why?  Because NetworkManager allows many different configurations of VPN setttings; you might have one VPN for your cover-story workplace and one for your Secret Three Letter Agency that you only use in secure locations.  That configuration is stored in NM config files in /etc and includes not just VPN-specific configuration, but also IPv4 and IPv6 configuration, static routes, DNS and search domain information, and a human-readable name and connection UUID.  This allows the user to override configuration the VPN might automatically return.  In the future we’ll add proxy configuration and firewall rules to that list.  Because all these things are highly specific to a single network connection (be that VPN, wifi, wired, 3G, whatever), they need to be kept together, changed together, and applied together.  No existing VPN configuration file format supports all this.  But NetworkManager does.

This means that we cannot simply use /etc/openvpn.conf or /etc/tinc/tinc.conf because

  1. standard config files often contain only one network: they are essentially “public” configuration files and the concept falls apart if you have ever configured more than one VPN; while some VPN daemons do have formats that allow defining more than one network, many do not.
  2. config files cannot encode related connection information: there is often no facility for expanded network-specific configuration like proxies, firewall rules, additional IP addresses, static routes, DNS search domains, etc that should be associated with VPN connection.
  3. secrets should be stored securely: if the user wants secure password storage in the GNOME Keyring or KWallet or whatever, they should be able to do so.  The user should be able to keep the password in their session or even provide it on-demand and not require it to be stored in system configuration files.
  4. secrets can change periodically: at Red Hat we use RSA SecurID tokens that generate a new PIN code every 30 seconds which is entered every time we connect.  Many VPN daemons will ask for passwords too, but that requires a terminal.  Fail.  We want to ask for secrets in a generic manner which is appropriate to each desktop environment (or lack thereof), and existing VPN secret request mechanisms (stdin, TCP management socket, static config files, etc) simply do not allow this.

To work around these limitations of configuration files, NetworkManager dynamically generates configuration for each VPN daemon and inserts your password when required, retrieved from secure GNOME Keyring/KWallet storage or from a PIN entry dialog or other mechanism.  The VPN daemon is then executed and handed that configuration, either a path to a private, root-owned, transient configuration file or, even better cleanly written to stdin if the VPN daemon supports it.

Which leads me to tinc.  Nothing appears to preclude creation of  NetworkManager VPN plugin for tinc, but there are some complications that it would be great to get fixed upstream:

  • quite a few configuration files required for each VPN network, and a plugin would have to create all these files dynamically before executing tincd; it appears that tinc 1.0.14 allows arbitrary config options on the command-line, which helps somewhat, but even better would be accepting configuration on stdin as a single unit instead of a bunch of separate files.  This way no config files (possibly including secrets) might mistakenly get left lying around due to segfaults or programming errors.
  • configuration appears to require an explicit device name (like “tun0”) which is a huge no-no; if the program can’t dynamically determine a suitable device name and return that to the caller, it gets a F- grade from me.  If the user configures more than one VPN that they might use concurrently, they shouldn’t have to manually plan out interface names.  At least it appears that tinc sends the interface name to the “up” script in the INTERFACE environment variable.
  • like OpenVPN, it appears that many attributes of the VPN connection cannot be auto-detected, which requires the user to know a-priori what the VPN configuration will be.  Stuff like “Cipher”, “Compression”, “Digest”, etc.  This never helps users and apparently everybody writing VPN software thinks the user of their software is already a system administrator.  I hope I’m wrong about this.  If I’m not, hopefully tinc emits status information indicating that the parameters set in configuration are incompatible with the peers it’s trying to connect to such that we can notify the user about it.
  • it’s unclear to me how tinc reports status and progress in a usable manner; it appears that one can send signals to tincd, but they dump information to syslog.  Ideally tincd would include an option to dump this information to stdout as well, because screen-scraping syslog is just completely evil.

None of these issues are killers; but they simply result in a degraded experience for the user of tincd if that user is not a system administrator.  At this point vpnc is the best-behaved VPN daemon because it (a) accepts configuration on stdin, (b) can request secrets dynamically via stdin, (c) automatically negotiates most options with the peer, and (d) doesn’t have 50,000 configuration options with complex interdependencies.  I hope tinc can get there too.

If anyone wants to write a NetworkManager VPN plugin for tinc, definitely let  me know or jump onto the mailing list and we’d be glad to help out with suggestions and advice.

NetworkManager 0.8.4 Knows How To Party

Get on up, get on up and DANCE (CC BY 2.0 via Robert Bejil)

Next in the long line of illustrious NetworkManager releases, out comes 0.8.4.  It loves to party, and if you look close enough it’s busting a move just to the left of the dude with a star on his hat at its own release party.  Hell yeah.  It’s a great release and packs a lot of fixes and features, including but not limited to fixes for IPv6, DHCP, DNS, no  longer touching /etc/hosts, WWAN, and VPN.  Hot tarballs are here:

A huge thanks to everyone who helped out with this release: Jirí Klimeš, Michael Biebl, Mathieu Trudel-Lapierre, Ozan Ça?layan, Robby Workman, Mu Qiao, Pierre Ossman, Mikhail Efremov, Andrey Borzenkov, Karsten Hopp, Ionut Biru, Robert Piasek, Torsten Spindler, Richard Hughes, Radek Vykydal, Canek Peláez Valdés, Wulf C. Krueger, and anyone I’ve forgotten.

Now back to the 0.9 train.  Shake it hard and keep it rockin’ people.

NetworkManager 0.8.4-beta1 Gets All Up In There

This way to NetworkManager awesome... (via pursuethepassion, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

And doesn’t it feel good, too.  Yeah!  There’s a crapton of great fixes in NetworkManager 0.8.4, and just for you, beta1 is here.  Changes for NM itself include:

  • Logging fixes to suppress unnecessary messages
  • Fix potential 64-bit crash updating timestamps
  • IPv6 setup, routing, and compliance fixes
  • Handle reverse DNS lookups with local caching nameserver configurations
  • No longer updates /etc/hosts when hostname changes
  • Request WPAD option from DHCP servers
  • Shutdown crash fixes
  • nmcli support for WWAN connections
  • Persistent hostname sent to DHCP servers by default
  • Allow disabing PPP support at build time
  • Memory leak fixes

while on the applet and editor side:

  • Updated translations
  • Conversion to GtkBuilder
  • Fixes for newer libnotify versions
  • Allow MD5 as a wired 802.1x EAP method
  • Show IPv6 information in Connection Information dialog
  • Completely fix crashes due to missing icons
  • Make VPN notifications respect user’s “Enable Notifications” preference

There’s literally a mountain of tarballs for your networking pleasure.  And there’s fresh updates for both Fedora 13 and Fedora 14 to satisfy yo mama.

And what about 0.9?  Huh?

That’s the question both you and Justin Bieber want to know.  We’ve had the 0.9 train kicked into high gear since long before Lady Gaga even thought about eggs, and it’s getting damn near the station.  Giovanni Campagna nailed the GObject Introspection support and is making the GNOME Shell indicator his bitch, while Richard Hughes is all over the new control center applet.  On the Ubuntu side, Matt Trudel posted a Unity indicator patch for the applet which will hit soon.  It’s shaping up to be an epic release. When?

March 16.

Let’s do this.

Dear Nokia…

Why is it that whenever I go to the Ovi store, it says:

Pardon the interruption
This site is currently undergoing maintenance.

and for some reason that maintenance always seems to take more than the two hours the Ovi blog says it will. In the mean time I’ve given up trying to get my angry birds or mapping program or desktop backgrounds or whatever.

News flash: nobody’s going to buy your shit if they can’t actually get to it in the first place.

I’m not aware of the App Store or the Android market being down for hours at the exact same time as I want to look for something. Leading me to two possible conclusions… either Nokia hates me, or their Ovi Store servers consist of actual monkies shoving bits of data into a pipe and those monkies all just got shot by poachers for the medicinal properties of the hair on their left earlobe. you tell me which is more likely.  I vote for number 2..