Steve Kemp's Blog Writings relating to Debian & Free Software

Entries tagged xen-shell

Shout it out

Sun, 3 Feb 2008 12:32:38 GMT

Well I've had a busy weekend, but I'm sober now.

I made a new release of xen-tools, which has a couple of minor bugfixes and not much else. I also released a new update for Debian of the xen-shell which fixes a couple of bashisms.

Finally I've managed to sign up two new users to my anti-spam proxy. Hopefully they're very happy.

In real news I painted about 1 square meter of my flat, (we're now into week three of painting a single room...), and replaced five light bulbs:

My eyes! The goggles do nothing!

Now I need to install a request tracking system (otrs2) and catch up on significantly outstanding RT status updates.

I'm getting hopeless again.

Maybe I should just give it all up and become a plumber. Plumbing is easy: Water goes downhill. The rest is just regulations and a willingness to get dirty...

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It's been seven hours and fifteen days

Fri, 26 Oct 2007 12:32:38 GMT

I made a new release of the Chronicle blog compiler the other day, which seems to be getting a suprising number of downloads from my apt repository.

The apt repository will be updated shortly to drop support for Sarge, since in practise I've not uploaded new things there for a while.

In other news I made some new code for the Debian Administration website! The site now has the notion of a "read-only" state. This state forbids new articles from being posted, new votes being cast, and new comments being posted.

The read-only state is mostly designed for emergencies, and for admin work upon the host system (such as when I'm tweaking the newly installed search engine).

In more coding news I've been updating the xen-shell a little recently, so it will shortly have the ability to checksum the filesystem of Xen guests - and later validate them. This isn't a great security feature because it assumes you trust dom0 - and more importantly to checksum files your guest must be shutdown.

However as a small feature I believe the suggestion was an interesting one.

Finally I've been thinking about system exploitation via temporary file abuse. There are a couple of cases that are common:

  • Creation of an arbitrary (writeable) file upon a host.
  • Creation of an arbitrary (non-writable) file upon a host.
  • Truncation of an existing file upon a host.

Exploiting the first to go from user to root access is trivial. But how would you exploit the last two?

Denial Of Service attacks are trivial via the creation/truncation of /etc/nologin, /etc/shadow, (or even /boot/grub/menu.lst! But gaining privileges? I can't quite see how.

Comments welcome!

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Prepare yourself you know it's a must

Wed, 17 Oct 2007 12:32:38 GMT

After years of on-again-off-again infatuation I now own my very own steam engine.

This makes me far far happier than I was expecting.

In other news a new release of xen-tools was made to fix some stupid bugs, a release of xen-shell is pending for the same reason, and after declaring I'd not make another release of GNUMP3d again I'm just about to do that too.

I am finding myself rather bored working on the same projects for so long. Though thankfully each of those three is essentially complete. If I died tomorrow there would be no real need for future development. I guess I need a new project to work upon.

The mail-scanning was going to be that project, but that has been sidetracked as I've been stripping out all the pretty and functional user-interface code with the aim of selling the code to $company as a one-off deal. (Not confirmed. Nice idea though.)

So I need a new project. People like Joey Hess who can almost instantly start fun projects (such as moreutils, ikiwiki, pristine-tar, mr) which just seem so obvious, necessary and useful on a whim make me jealous!

All in all life is good and steamy.

I just need inspiration. And more hours in the day too.

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ust to be the man who walked 1000 miles

Wed, 26 Sep 2007 12:32:38 GMT

A new release of xen-shell was made last night, which fixes a couple of minor niggles:

  • The --control command line flag simply did not work. Now it does.
  • The 'uptime' command works with both new and old Xen versions.
  • Shell history persists correctly even on unclean shutdown/exit.

Unless there are great demands for additional features I'm now going to regard this project as complete/finished. Certainly it works well enough for myself and my users.

Satisfaction is ...

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The temple walls are made of flesh

Tue, 4 Sep 2007 12:32:38 GMT

This week has consisted of fighting registrars and doing a bit of hacking on xen-shell, xen-tools, and the chronicle blog compiler.

CJ has done some good work trying to get the code modularised, and I expect between the pair of us we can make things neater and better generally.

I've also fixed a couple of bugs relating to the hard-wiring of device names (/dev/sda, /dev/tty1, etc). These devices are replaced in newer versions of Xen which wants to use /dev/xvc0 and /dev/xvd[a-z] instead.

There's nothing else happening at the moment; I'm just having a lot of fun laughing at our new kitten sliding around on our polished wooden floor!

Chronicle seems to be getting pretty popular which is ironic because it was a quick hack to allow me to post blog entries on a couple of hosted sites - which I've not yet done. Oops.

In other news I'm loving the Nintendo DS at the moment, Megan brought me one back from America on her recent trip and I think a day hasn't passed where one or both of us has played less than 30 minutes each.

I'm annoyed that Sim City DS only allows us to play with one city - right now it is her turn, and I'll have to wait until she's finished with her creation before I can have a go - because otherwise I'll wipe her city out.. :(

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Change my pitch up

Sat, 17 Mar 2007 12:32:38 GMT

6 weeks since my last post here, which I guess sums up how busy I am with things, primarily off-line but with a reasonable amount of development work coming out too.

Thanks to Radu Spineanu xen-shell made it into the archive, and work has restarted on a multi-dom0 Xen control panel. So far there is a node daemon, a central server, and a shell-based admin tool, all written in Ruby.

Coming soon a web-based control panel, implemented in Ruby on Rails.

Exciting times.

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All the pigs are all lined up

Mon, 1 Jan 2007 12:32:38 GMT

I am slowly recovering from a very hectic New Year Eve celebration in Edinburgh. I was surrounded by a several visiting schoolfriends of my girlfriend, and we even managed to meet up with a couple of visiting Canadians – the ex-girlfriend of an online friend and her cousin (both freshly arrived only a day or two ago).

Edinburgh weather was appalling, to the extent that the outdoor street party was cancelled – and several large trees were blown over in Leith.

The girls and myself spent the night walking around far too much before settling into a local pub and hearing the bells.

Now that I’m recovered I’ve just released a new version of xen-shell which allows you to control a number of xen instances rather than just the one.

I’m still not a nice person though.

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You say those thousand things

Fri, 29 Dec 2006 12:32:38 GMT

Only three things to say today:

Second anniversary

Today marks the second anniversary of the Debian Administration website.

(I think that this is the first public mention of my intention to setup the site. It was the earliest I could find anyway.)

Edinburgh Trivia

Doing my own small bit for Debconf I went for a walk on Christmas Day.

For two years I’ve lived in the area of Edinburgh known as Leith. (Famous for being a port, and being a port of call for hookers)

During that time I’ve taken buses, and walked, up and down Leith walk hundreds of times. Almost every time I do I notice a large chimney by The Edinburgh Playhouse Theatre.. The top 20/30ft of the chimney can be seen from peeking over the top of local buildings, assuming you’re not blocked by other buildings. And now?

Now I know what it sits upon.

My little adventure in getting to know the city I’ve been living in; I wanted to find the bottom of the chimney and see what it was attached to. So if anybody coming to Debconf next year gets massively lost and curious about a large chimney en route to my house .. I can tell them all about it.

It is the little things in life ..

Xen Shell

I’m not sure that there are many people using this, the freshmeat listing has a few subscribers but I’m never sure how well that translates. (Plus of course nobody rated the software so it might be they hate it?). Anyway there are almost certainly far fewer users of the shell than the main xen-tools package – but as of last night the shell now allows you to control more than one Xen instance.

This is quite a large change, since previously it explicitly only supported one user controlling one Xen instance. Expect a new release shortly once I’ve tested it more, and updated the documentation.

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Lets go dancing on the backs of the bruised

Tue, 26 Dec 2006 12:32:38 GMT

My Christmas day was primarily spent at home watching Red Dwarf.

Apart from that I made new releases of xen-shell and xen-tools.

I was suprised to recieve a sudden flurry of bug reports. No less than ten bugs reported by two users in one day! Still I fixed most of them and made a new release.

It was nice to notice Isaac Clerencia writing about using xen-tools for automated testing. The idea has occurred to me before: Create a fresh Xen installation of Debian then run a test suite and trash the system afterwards. I even setup a test Yawns builder for a while.

Are people finding interesting users for xen-tools? I’d love to have some use-cases, and more user-feedback is always appreciated. Feel free to get in touch or comment here.

Personally I use a few Xen guests on my home LAN and I regularly create new Sarge images for building backported Xen packages. Only recently did I move my home cfengine setup onto a domU.

In other news I recently received a copy of Programming Ruby from my Amazon wishlist, I’m learning a lot about Ruby and I think I’m in love. The only downside is the mental confusion I experience when I see ”@variable” and ”$variable” used. I am too wedded to Perl to stop thinking “array” and “string” respectively.

I should find a toy project to write in Ruby to get used to it. Right now nothing occurs, but I’m sure it is just a matter of time.

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