darwin native SSL for curl

I recently mentioned the new schannel support for libcurl that allows libcurl to do SSL natively without the use of any external libraries on Windows.

This “getting native support” obviously triggered Nick Zitzmann who stepped up and sent in Secure Transport support – the native API for doing SSL on Mac OS X and iOS. This ninth supported SSL library is now called ‘darwinssl’ in the curl code base. There have been some follow-up commits too to cleanup things and make use of that API for providing the necessary function calls when doing NTLM too etc.

This functionality is merged in to curl’s master git repository and will be part of the upcoming curl 7.27.0 release, planned to hit the public at the end of July 2012.

It could be noted that if your for example build curl/libcurl to also support SCP and SFTP, you’d be linking with libssh2 for that and libssh2 is still relying on a crypto library that is either OpenSSL or gcrypt so you may in fact still end up linking with a 3rd party crypto library… Nick mentioned in a separate mail how he has looked into making libssh2 use the Secure Transport API, but that he faced some issues regarding big numbers which made him hesitate and consider how to move forward.

lighting up that fiber

Exactly 10 hours and 34 minutes after Tyfon sent me the mail confirming they had received my order, the connection was up and I received an SMS saying so. Amazingly quick service I’d say. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite as fast to actually try it out…

Once I got home from work and got some time to fiddle, I inserted an RJ45 into port 1 of my media converter and the other end in my wifi router and wham, I was online.

My immediate reaction? First, check ping time to my server. Now it averages at 2.5 ms, down from some 32 ms over my ADSL line. Then check transfer speeds. Massive disappointment. Something is wrong since it goes very slow in both directions, with no more than 5-10KB/sec transfers. I emailed customer service at once, less than 24 hours after I ordered it… bredbandskollen.se says 0.20 mbit downlink and 75 mbit uplink! Weird.

They got back early this morning by email, and we communicated back and forth. For them to be able to file a report back to the fiber provider I need to report a MAC and IP address of a direct-connected (no router) computer, which of course had to wait until I get back home from work.

At home, when connecting two different windows-running laptops they don’t get an IP address. I’m suspecting this is due to packet-loss and thus it taking several DHCP retries to work and I didn’t have patience enough. I switched back to my ADSL connection again and emailed Tyfon the IP and MAC I believe my router used before…

A network provider for my fiber

In late May I finally got my media converter installed inside my house so now my fiber gets terminated into a 4-port gigabit switch.

Inteno fiber equipment

Now the quest to find the right provider started. I have a physical 1 gigabit connection to “the station”, and out of the 12 providers (listed on bredbandswebben.se) I can select to get the internet service delivered by, at least two offer 1000 mbit download speeds (with 100mbit upload). I would ideally like a fixed IPv4-address and an IPv6 subnet, and I want my company to subscribe to this service.

The companies are T3 and Alltele. Strangely enough both of them failed to respond in a timely manner, so I went on to probe a few of the other companies that deliver less than 1000mbit services.

The one company that responded fastest and with more details than any other was Tyfon. They informed me that currently nobody can sell a “company subscription” on this service and that on my address I can only get at most a 100/100 mbit service right now. (Amusingly most of these operators also offer 250/25 and 500/50 rates but I would really like to finally get a decent upstream speed so that I for example can backup to a remote site at a decent speed.)

So, I went with 100/100 mbit for 395 SEK/month (~ 44 Euro or 57 USD). I just now submitted my order and their confirmation arrived at 23:00:24. They say it may take a little while to deliver so we’ll see (“normally within 1-2 weeks“). I’ll report back when I have news.

(And I’ve not yet gotten the invoice for the physical installation…)

schannel support in libcurl

schannel is the API Microsoft provides to allow applications to for example implement SSL natively, without needing any third part library.

On Monday June 11th we merged the 30+ commits Marc Hörsken brought us. This is now the 8th SSL variation supported by libcurl, and I figure this is going to become fairly popular now in the Windows camp coming the next release: curl 7.27.0.

So now my old talk about the seven SSL libraries libcurl supported has become outdated…

It can be worth noting that as long as you build (lib)curl to also support SCP and SFTP, powered by libssh2, that library will still require a separate crypto library and libssh2 supports to get built with either OpenSSL or gcrypt. Marc mentioned that he might work on making that one use schannel as well.

cURL

curling the metalink

Back in 2005 Anthony Bryan started to work with his metalink idea, as can be read in this early 2006 article. Very simplified, Metalink is a way to tell a client how to download the same identical file from many places potentially in parallel. Anthony tells me he had the idea much earlier than so, going back to a bad experience trying to download a Fedora ISO from a download mirror…metalink_logo

Anthony’s and my discussions about metalink started in September 2006 and we’ve bounced countless of mails and ideas back and forth since then. Even more, we’ve become friends and we’ve worked together on several related subjects as well, including several Internet Drafts within the IETF.

We had a metalink discussion on the libcurl mailing list back in April 2008 about whether to have libcurl support it natively or not, but we (I) ended up with the conclusion that it wasn’t fit for libcurl. Basically because metalink is a layer on top of the application protocols that libcurl supports.

I wasn’t quite prepared at that time to accept the patches for the curl tool since I didn’t like all the XML stuff it would bring in and as I recall it I felt that I wasn’t prepared to deal with that extra work load at the time. I think I told the guys I wanted to wait and see and try it more at a later point.

In September that same year I blogged about Anthony’s work on getting an internet draft done for metalink. That would later in 2010 get released as RFC5854 and a year later RFC6249 came out with a way to provide all the info in HTTP headers instead of XML as the previous document was for. (Both RFCs contain acknowledgement to yours truly as contributor.)

Today

While I said metalink wasn’t really fit for libcurl, it was always fit for curl – the command line client that uses libcurl but is more of a transfer tool. During the spring 2012 Anthony and super-hacker Tatsuhiro Tsujikawa approached me and asked if perhaps we were ready for metalink in curl this time?

Yes!

Since the last time, metalink has developed as a standard and there’s now a libmetalink project to use and I felt it was a good time development wise as well. Tatsuhiro whipped up a refreshed patch in no time and soon we were polishing off the last little edges around the corners and the metalink patch set was merged into curl 7.27.0! Anthony’s and Tatsuhiro’s persistence and patience over the years are impressive. Thanks a lot my friends! That’s a little over five and a half years since the first approach until it got merged into the mainline sources. That’s nothing but pure dedication.

Usage

So, starting with curl 7.27.0 and assuming you built curl with the correct set of prereqs installed, this is how you use it:

curl --metalink [URL]

Where the URL is a URL that points to a metalink file, and then curl will download the file from one of the URLs mentioned. curl will at this point try them serially if there are multiple ones specified and not in parallel. Room for future improvements.

curl 7.27.0 will probably be released in the end of July 2012, but you can already get an early test version as a daily snapshot. We’ll appreciate all feedback you can give us!