In the curl project we keep track of and say thanks to every single contributor. That includes persons who report bugs or security problems, who run infrastructure for us, who assist in debugging or fixing problems as well as those who author code or edit the website. Those who have contributed to make curl to what it is.
Exactly today October 4th 2021, we reached 2,500 names in this list of contributors for the first time. 2,500 persons since the day curl was created back in March 1998. 2,500 contributors in 8599 days. This means that on average we’ve seen one new contributor helping out in the project every 3.44 days for almost twenty-four years. Not bad at all.
As can be seen on the graph below plotting the number of people in the THANKS file, the rate of newcomers have increased slowly over the years and we’ve added new names at the rate of about two hundred per year recently. There’s a chance that we will add the next 2,500 names to the list faster than twenty-four years. The latest 1,000 contributors have been added since the beginning of 2017, so in less than five years.
The thanks page on the website is usually synced at release time so it is always a little bit behind compared to what’s recorded in the curl git repository.
The graph bump back in 2005: it was a one-time sweep-up where I went through our entire history and made sure that all names of people who were previously mentioned and who had helped were added correctly to the document. Since then, we’ve kept better track and make sure to add new names as we go along.
We of course collect the names of the contributors primarily by the use of scripts, which is also the best way to avoid some slipping through.
We always mention contributors and helpers in git commits, and they should be “marked” correctly for scripts to be able to extract them
We keep a list of contributors per-release in the RELEASE-NOTES document. When we commit updates to RELEASE-NOTES, we use the fixed commit message ‘synced’ to have our tools use that as a marker.
To get the updated list of contributors since the previous update of RELEASE-NOTES, we use the scripts/contributors.sh script.
For some TLS connections you want the secrets you exchange over them to remain private for decades to come.
So what if someone in the future produces a computer system that can crack all the common current encryption algorithms in no time and they already have past secret communications stored?
Such a possible future computer system that might do this is believed to be the quantum computer. There are early and tiny versions of such machines already in existence, but they are far from strong enough to be cracking any strong ciphers today. The question is then how long it takes until they will be able to do that, and thus for how long recorded secret communications can expect to remain secret. 10 years? 20? 30?
If there’s a capable quantum computer made available in let’s say twenty years time, our currently most common TLS ciphers are then rendered next to worthless in twenty years. If you want your communication to remain private even after the introduction of quantum computers, you need post-quantum safe algorithms for your TLS data, and you need a post-quantum curl to use those ciphers for your transfers!
My colleagues at wolfSSL have recently been working on making sure that the library with the same name has support for a set of ciphers that are post-quantum safe. That work has been merged into wolfSSL’s git repository and will be part of a future pending release. That “future release” is hopefully just a few weeks off now.
In association with that, we’ve also made sure that curl built with wolfSSL can take advantage of these powers. The necessary curl changes for this have landed in git and will be part of the pending curl 7.80.0 release.
Use it with curl
To make your curl transfers post-quantum safe today, all you need to do is:
make sure you have a wolfSSL build and install with the proper algorithms enabled
build curl from git (or wait for the 7.80.0 release) and tell it to use wolfSSL for TLS
specify a post-quantum curve when you invoke curl
curl --curve SABER_LEVEL5 https://example.com
The success of such a TLS 1.3 handshake with a server then of course also requires that you communicate with a server that conversely also supports quantum-safe algorithms. This not terribly common yet.
The primary curl pull-request for this feature was authored by Anthony Hu.