I’m happy to once again present a new curl release to the world. This time we decided to cut the release cycle short and do a quick patch release only two weeks since the previous release. The primary reason was the rather annoying and embarrassing HTTP/2 bug. See below for all the details.
the 199th release 0 changes 14 days (total: 8,426) 21 bug-fixes (total: 6,833) 30 commits (total: 27,008) 0 new public libcurl function (total: 85) 0 new curl_easy_setopt() option (total: 288) 0 new curl command line option (total: 240) 23 contributors, 10 new (total: 2,366) 14 authors, 6 new (total: 878) 0 security fixes (total: 100) 0 USD paid in Bug Bounties (total: 5,200 USD)
This was a very short cycle but we still managed to merge a few interesting fixes. Here are some:
HTTP/2 selection over HTTPS
This regression is the main reason for this patch release. I fixed an issue before 7.76.0 was released and due to lack of covering tests with other TLS backends, nobody noticed that my fix also break HTTP/2 selection over HTTPS when curl was built to use one GnuTLS, BearSSL, mbedTLS, NSS, SChannnel, Secure Transport or wolfSSL!
The problem I fixed for 7.76.0: I made sure that no internal code updates the HTTP version choice the user sets, but that it then updates only the internal “we want this version”. Without this fix, an application that reuses an easy handle could without specifically asking for it, get another HTTP version in subsequent requests if a previous transfer had been downgraded. Clearly the fix was only partial.
The new fix should make HTTP/2 work and make sure the “wanted version” is used correctly. Fingers crossed!
Progress meter final update in parallel mode
When doing small and quick transfers in parallel mode with the command line tool, the logic could make the last update call to get skipped!
file: support getting directories again
Another regression. A recent fix made curl not consider directories over FILE:// to show a size (if -I or -i is used). That did however also completely break “getting” such a directory…
HTTP proxy: only loop on 407 + close if we have credentials
When a HTTP(S) proxy returns a 407 response and closes the connection, curl would retry the request to it even if it had no credentials to use. If the proxy just consistently did the same 407 + close, curl would get stuck in a retry loop…
The fixed version now only retries the connection (with auth) if curl actually has credentials to use!
Next release cycle
The plan is to make the next cycle two weeks shorter, to get us back on the previously scheduled path. This means that if we open the feature window on Monday, it will be open for just a little over two weeks, then give us three weeks of only bug-fixes before we ship the next release on May 26.
The next one is expected to become 7.77.0. Due to the rather short feature window this coming cycle I also fear that we might not be able to merge all the new features that are waiting to get merged.
tldr: the level of HTTP/3 support in servers is surprisingly high.
The specifications are all done. They’re now waiting in queues to get their final edits and approvals before they will get assigned RFC numbers and get published as such – they will not change any further. That’s a set of RFCs (six I believe) for various aspects of this new stack. The HTTP/3 spec is just one of those. Remember: HTTP/3 is the application protocol done over the new transport QUIC. (See http3 explained for a high-level description.)
The HTTP/3 spec was written to refer to, and thus depend on, two other HTTP specs that are in the works: httpbis-cache and https-semantics. Those two are mostly clarifications and cleanups of older HTTP specs, but this forces the HTTP/3 spec to have to get published after the other two, which might introduce a small delay compared to the other QUIC documents.
The working group has started to take on work on new specifications for extensions and improvements beyond QUIC version 1.
In early April 2021, the usage of QUIC and HTTP/3 in the world is measured by a few different companies.
netray.io scans the IPv4 address space weekly and checks how many hosts that speak QUIC. Their latest scan found 2.1 million such hosts.
Arguably, the netray number doesn’t say much. Those two million hosts could be very well used or barely used machines.
HTTP/3 by w3techs
w3techs.com has been in the game of scanning web sites for stats purposes for a long time. They scan the top ten million sites and count how large share that runs/supports what technologies and they also check for HTTP/3. In their data they call the old Google QUIC for just “QUIC” which is confusing but that should be seen as the precursor to HTTP/3.
What stands out to me in this data except that the HTTP/3 usage seems very high: the top one-million sites are claimed to have a higher share of HTTP/3 support (16.4%) than the top one-thousand (11.9%)! That’s the reversed for HTTP/2 and not how stats like this tend to look.
It has been suggested that the growth starting at Feb 2021 might be explained by Cloudflare’s enabling of HTTP/3 for users also in their free plan.
HTTP/3 by Cloudflare
On radar.cloudflare.com we can see Cloudflare’s view of a lot of Internet and protocol trends over the world.
This HTTP/3 number is significantly lower than w3techs’. Presumably because of the differences in how they measure.
All the major browsers have HTTP/3 implementations and most of them allow you to manually enable it if it isn’t already done so. Chrome and Edge have it enabled by default and Firefox will so very soon. The caniuse.com site shows it like this (updated on April 4):
(Earlier versions of this blog post showed the previous and inaccurate data from caniuse.com. Not anymore.)
curl supports HTTP/3 since a while back, but you need to explicitly enable it at build-time. It needs to use third party libraries for the HTTP/3 layer and it needs a QUIC capable TLS library. The QUIC/h3 libraries are still beta versions. See below for the TLS library situation.
curl’s HTTP/3 support is not even complete. There are still unsupported areas and it’s not considered stable yet.
curl supports 14 different TLS libraries at this time. Two of them have QUIC support landed: BoringSSL and GnuTLS. And a third would be the quictls OpenSSL fork. (There are also a few other smaller TLS libraries that support QUIC.)
The by far most popular TLS library to use with curl, OpenSSL, has postponed their QUIC work:
At the same time they have delayed the OpenSSL 3.0 release significantly. Their release schedule page still today speaks of a planned release of 3.0.0 in “early Q4 2020”. That plan expects a few months from the beta to final release and we have not yet seen a beta release, only alphas.
Realistically, this makes QUIC in OpenSSL many months off until it can appear even in a first alpha. Maybe even 2022 material?
The Google powered OpenSSL fork BoringSSL has supported QUIC for a long time and provides the OpenSSL API, but they don’t do releases and mostly focus on getting a library done for Google. People outside the company are generally reluctant to use and depend on this library for those reasons.
The quiche QUIC/h3 library from Cloudflare uses BoringSSL and curl can be built to use quiche (as well as BoringSSL).
Microsoft and Akamai have made a fork of OpenSSL available that is based on OpenSSL 1.1.1 and has the QUIC pull-request applied in order to offer a QUIC capable OpenSSL flavor to the world before the official OpenSSL gets their act together. This fork is called quictls. This should be compatible with OpenSSL in all other regards and provide QUIC with an API that is similar to BoringSSL’s.
The ngtcp2 QUIC library uses quictls. curl can be built to use ngtcp2 as well as with quictls,
Is HTTP/3 faster?
I realize I can’t blog about this topic without at least touching this question. The main reason for adding support for HTTP/3 on your site is probably that it makes it faster for users, so does it?
We’ve seen other numbers say h3 is faster shown before but it’s hard to find up-to-date performance measurements published for the current version of HTTP/3 vs HTTP/2 in real world scenarios. Partly of course because people have hesitated to compare before there are proper implementations to compare with, and not just development versions not really made and tweaked to perform optimally.
I think there are reasons to expect h3 to be faster in several situations, but for people with high bandwidth low latency connections in the western world, maybe the difference won’t be noticeable?
I’ve previously shown the slide below to illustrate what needs to be done for curl to ship with HTTP/3 support enabled in distros and “widely” and I think the same works for a lot of other projects and clients who don’t control their TLS implementation and don’t write their own QUIC/h3 layer code.
This house of cards of h3 is slowly getting some stable components, but there are still too many moving parts for most of us to ship.
I assume that the rest of the browsers will also enable HTTP/3 by default soon, and the specs will be released not too long into the future. That will make HTTP/3 traffic on the web increase significantly.
The QUIC and h3 libraries will ship their first non-beta versions once the specs are out.
The TLS library situation will continue to hamper wider adoption among non-browsers and smaller players.
The big players already deploy HTTP/3.
I’ve updated this post after the initial publication, and the biggest corrections are in the Chrome/Edge details. Thanks to immediate feedback from Eric Lawrence. Remaining errors are still all mine! Thanks also to Barry Pollard who filed the PR to update the previously flawed caniuse.com data.
curl is an internet transfer engine. A rather modular one too. Parts of curl’s functionality is provided by selectable alternative implementations that we call backends. You select what backends to enable at build-time and in many cases the backends are enabled and powered by different 3rd party libraries.
curl has a range of such alternative backends for various features:
International Domain Names
HTTP content encoding
Stable API and ABI
Maintaining a stable API and ABI is key to libcurl. As long as those promises are kept, changing internals such as switching between backends is perfectly fine.
The API is the armored front door that we don’t change. The backends is the garden on the back of the house that we can dig up and replant every year if we want, without us having to change the front door.
Already back in 2005 we added support for using an alternative TLS library in curl when we added support for GnuTLS in addition to OpenSSL, and since then we’ve added many more. We do this by having an internal API through which we do all the TLS related things and for each third party library we support we have code that does the necessary logic to connect the internal API with the corresponding TLS library.
Today, we merged support for yet another TLS library: rustls. This is a TLS library written in rust and it has a C API provided in a separate project called crustls. Strictly speaking, curl is built to use crustls.
This is still early days for the rustls backend and it is not yet feature complete. There’s more work to do and polish to apply before we can think of it as a proper competitor to the already established and well-used TLS backends, but with this merge it makes it much easier for more people to help out and test it out. Feel free and encouraged to join in!
We count this addition as the 14th concurrently supported TLS library in curl. I’m not aware of any other project, anywhere, that supports more or even this many TLS libraries.
The TLS library named mesalink is actually already using rustls, but under an OpenSSL API disguise and we support that since a few years back…
The TLS backend code for rustls was written and contributed by Jacob Hoffman-Andrews.
curl supports more TLS libraries than any other software I know of. The current count stops at 14 different ones that can be used to power curl’s TLS-based protocols (HTTPS primarily, but also FTPS, SMTPS, POP3S, IMAPS and so on).
The very first curl release didn’t have any TLS support, but already in June 1998 we shipped the first version that supported HTTPS. Back in those days the protocol was still really SSL. The library we used then was called SSLeay. (No, I never understood how that’s supposed to be pronounced)
The SSLeay library became OpenSSL very soon after but the API was brought along so curl supported it from the start.
More than one
In the spring of 2005 we merged the first support for building curl with a different TLS library. It was GnuTLS, which comes under a different license than OpenSSL and had a slightly different feature set. The race had began.
A short while ago and in time to get shipped in the coming 7.68.0 release (set to ship on January 8th 2020), the 14th TLS backend was merged into the curl source tree in the shape of support for BearSSL. BearSSL is a TLS library aimed at smaller devices and is perhaps lacking a bit in features (like no TLS 1.3 for example) but has still been requested by users in the past.
Since September 2017, you can even build libcurl to support one or more TLS libraries in the same build. When built that way, users can select which TLS backend curl should use at each start-up. A feature used and appreciated by for example git for Windows.
Below is an attempt to visualize how curl has grown in this area. Number of supported TLS backends over time, from the first curl release until today. The image comes from a slide I intend to use in a future curl presentation. A notable detail on this graph is the removal of axTLS support in late 2018 (removed in 7.63.0). PolarSSL is targeted to meet the same destiny in February 2020 since it gets no updates anymore and has in practice already been replaced by mbedTLS.
QUIC and TLS
If you’ve heard me talk about HTTP/3 (h3) and QUIC (like my talk at Full Stack Fest 2019), you already know that QUIC needs new APIs from the TLS libraries.
For h3 support to become reality in curl shipped in distros etc, the TLS library curl is set to use needs to provide a QUIC compatible API and the QUIC/h3 library curl uses then needs to support that.
It is likely that some TLS libraries are going to be fast with providing such APIs and some are going be (very) slow. Their particular individual abilities combined with the desire to ship curl with h3 support is likely going to affect what TLS library you will see used by curl in your distro will affect what TLS library you will build your own curl builds to use in the future.
The recently added BearSSL backend was written by Michael Forney. Top image by LEEROY Agency from Pixabay
I trust you’ve heard by now that HTTP/3 is coming. It is the next destined HTTP version, targeted to get published as an RFC in July 2019. Not very far off.
HTTP/3 will not be done over TCP. It will only be performed over QUIC, which is a transport protocol replacement for TCP that always is done encrypted. There’s no clear-text version of QUIC.
The encryption in QUIC is based on TLS 1.3 technologies which I believe everyone thinks is a good idea and generally the correct decision. We need to successively raise the bar as we move forward with protocols.
However, QUIC is not only a transport protocol that does encryption by itself while TLS is typically (and designed as) a protocol that is done on top of TCP, it was also designed by a team of engineers who came up with a design that requires APIs from the TLS layer that the traditional TLS over TCP use case doesn’t need!
New TLS APIs
A QUIC implementation needs to extract traffic secrets from the TLS connection and it needs to be able to read/write TLS messages directly – not using the TLS record layer. TLS records are what’s used when we send TLS over TCP. (This was discussed and decided back around the time for the QUIC interim in Kista.)
These operations need APIs that still are missing in for example the very popular OpenSSL library, but also in other commonly used ones like GnuTLS and libressl. And of course schannel and Secure Transport.
Libraries known to already have done the job and expose the necessary mechanisms include BoringSSL, NSS, quicly, PicoTLS and Minq. All of those are incidentally TLS libraries with a more limited number of application users and less mainstream. They’re also more or less developed by people who are also actively engaged in the QUIC protocol development.
curl is TLS library agnostic and can get built with around 12 different TLS libraries – one or many actually, as you can build it to allow users to select TLS backend in run-time!
OpenSSL is without competition the most popular choice to build curl with outside of the proprietary operating systems like macOS and Windows 10. But even the vendor-build and provided mac and Windows versions are also built with libraries that lack APIs for this.
With our current keen interest in QUIC and HTTP/3 support for curl, we’re about to run into an interesting TLS situation. How exactly is someone going to build curl to simultaneously support both traditional TLS based protocols as well as QUIC going forward?
I don’t have a good answer to this yet. Right now (assuming we would have the code ready in our end, which we don’t), we can’t ship QUIC or HTTP/3 support enabled for curl built to use the most popular TLS libraries! Hopefully by the time we get our code in order, the situation has improved somewhat.
This will slow down QUIC deployment
I’m personally convinced that this little API problem will be friction enough when going forward that it will slow down and hinder QUIC deployment at least initially.
When the HTTP/2 spec shipped in May 2015, it introduced a dependency on the fairly new TLS extension called ALPN that for a long time caused head aches for server admins since ALPN wasn’t supported in the OpenSSL versions that was typically installed and used at the time, but you had to upgrade OpenSSL to version 1.0.2 to get that supported.
At that time, almost four years ago, OpenSSL 1.0.2 was already released and the problem was big enough to just upgrade to that. This time, the API we’re discussing here is not even in a beta version of OpenSSL and thus hasn’t been released in any version yet. That’s far worse than the HTTP/2 situation we had and that took a few years to ride out.
Will we get these APIs into an OpenSSL release to test before the QUIC specification is done? If the schedule sticks, there’s about six months left…
When you use curl to communicate with a HTTPS site (or any other protocol that uses TLS), it will by default verify that the server is signed by a trusted Certificate Authority (CA). It does this by checking the CA bundle it was built to use, or instructed to use with the –cacert command line option.
Sometimes you end up in a situation where you don’t have the necessary CA cert in your bundle. It could then look something like this:
$ curl https://example.com/
curl: (60) SSL certificate problem: self signed certificate
More details here: https://curl.haxx.se/docs/sslcerts.html
Do not disable!
A first gut reaction could be to disable the certificate check. Don’t do that. You’ll just make that end up in production or get copied by someone else and then you’ll spread the insecure use to other places and eventually cause a security problem.
Get the CA cert
I’ll show you four different ways to fix this.
1. Update your OS CA store
Operating systems come with a CA bundle of their own and on most of them, curl is setup to use the system CA store. A system update often makes curl work again.
This of course doesn’t help you if you have a self-signed certificate or otherwise use a CA that your operating system doesn’t have in its trust store.
2. Get an updated CA bundle from us
curl can be told to use a separate stand-alone file as CA store, and conveniently enough curl provides an updated one on the curl web site. That one is automatically converted from the one Mozilla provides for Firefox, updated daily. It also provides a little backlog so the ten most recent CA stores are available.
If you agree to trust the same CAs that Firefox trusts. This is a good choice.
3. Get it with openssl
Now we’re approaching the less good options. It’s way better to get the CA certificates via other means than from the actual site you’re trying to connect to!
This method uses the openssl command line tool. The servername option used below is there to set the SNI field, which often is necessary to tell the server which actual site’s certificate you want.
This description assumes you’re using a curl that uses a CA bundle in the PEM format, which not all do – in particular not the ones built with NSS, Schannel (native Windows) or Secure Transport (native macOS and iOS) don’t.
If you use one of those, you need to then add additional command to import the PEM formatted cert into the particular CA store of yours.
A CA store is many PEM files concatenated
Just concatenate many different PEM files into a single file to create a CA store with multiple certificates.
This is a feature-packed release with more new stuff than usual.
the 177th release
56 days (total: 7,419) 118 bug fixes (total: 4,758) 238 commits (total: 23,677)
5 new public libcurl functions (total: 80)
2 new curl_easy_setopt() options (total: 261) 1 new curl command line option (total: 219) 49 contributors, 21 new (total: 1,808) 38 authors, 19 new (total: 632) 3 security fixes (total: 84)
New since the previous release is the dedicated curl bug bounty program. I’m not sure if this program has caused any increase in reports as it feels like a little too early to tell.
CVE-2018-16839 – an integer overflow case that triggers on 32 bit machines given extremely long input user name argument, when using POP3, SMTP or IMAP.
CVE-2018-16840 – a use-after-free issue. Immediately after having freed a struct in the easy handle close function, libcurl might write a boolean to that struct!
CVE-2018-16842 – is a vulnerability in the curl command line tool’s “warning” message display code which can make it read outside of a buffer and send unintended memory contents to stderr.
All three of these issues are deemed to have low severity and to be hard to exploit.
We introduce a brand new URL API, that lets applications parse and generate URLs, using libcurl’s own parser. Five new public functions in one go there! The link goes to the separate blog entry that explained it.
A brand new function is introduced (curl_easy_upkeep) to let applications maintain idle connections while no transfers are in progress! Perfect to maintain HTTP/2 connections for example that have a PING frame that might need attention.
Applications using libcurl’s multi interface will now get multiplexing enabled by default, and HTTP/2 will be selected for HTTPS connections. With these new changes of the default behavior, we hope that lots of applications out there just transparently and magically will start to perform better over time without anyone having to change anything!
We shipped DNS-over-HTTPS support. With DoH, your internet client can do secure and private name resolves easier. Follow the link for the full blog entry with details.
The good people at MesaLink has a TLS library written in rust, and in this release you can build libcurl to use that library. We haven’t had a new TLS backend supported since 2012!
Our default IMAP handling is slightly changed, to use the proper standards compliant “UID FETCH” method instead of just “FETCH”. This might introduce some changes in behavior so if you’re doing IMAP transfers, I advice you to mind your step into this upgrade.
Starting in 7.62.0, applications can now set the buffer size libcurl will use for uploads. The buffers used for download and upload are separate and applications have been able to specify the download buffer size for a long time already and now they can finally do it for uploads too. Most applications won’t need to bother about it, but for some edge case uses there are performance gains to be had by bumping this size up. For example when doing SFTP uploads over high latency high bandwidth connections.
curl builds that use libressl will now at last show the correct libressl version number in the “curl -V” output.
CURLOPT_DNS_USE_GLOBAL_CACHE is deprecated! If there’s not a massive complaint uproar, this means this option will effectively be made pointless in April 2019. The global cache isn’t thread-safe and has been called obsolete in the docs since 2002!
HTTP pipelining support is deprecated! Starting in this version, asking for pipelining will be ignored by libcurl. We strongly urge users to switch to and use HTTP/2, which in 99% of the cases is the better alternative to HTTP/1.1 Pipelining. The pipelining code in libcurl has stability problems. The impact of disabled pipelining should be minimal but some applications will of course notice. Also note the section about HTTP/2 and multiplexing by default under “changes” above.
To get an overview of all things marked for deprecation in curl and their individual status check out this page.
TLS 1.3 support for GnuTLS landed. Now you can build curl to support TLS 1.3 with most of the TLS libraries curl supports: GnuTLS, OpenSSL, BoringSSL, libressl, Secure Transport, WolfSSL, NSS and MesaLink.
The TLS backends got a little cleanup and error code use unification so that they should now all return the same error code for the same problem no matter which backend you use!
When you use curl to do URL “globbing” as for example “curl http://localhost/[1-22]” to fetch a range or a series of resources and accidentally mess up the range, curl would previously just say that it detected an error in the glob pattern. Starting now, it will also try to show exactly where in which pattern it found the error that made it stop processing it.
The curl for Windows CI builds on AppVeyor are now finally also running the test suite! Actually making sure that the Windows build is intact in every commit and PR is a huge step forward for us and our aim to keep curl functional. We also build several additional and different build combinations on Windows in the CI than we did previously. All in an effort to reduce regressions.
We’ve added four new checks to travis (that run on every pull-request and commit):
The “tidy” build runs clang-tidy on all sources in src/ and lib/.
a –disable-verbose build makes sure this configure option still builds curl warning-free
the “distcheck” build now scans all files for accidental unicode BOM markers
a MesaLink-using build verifies this configuration
CI build times
We’re right now doing 40 builds on every commit, spending around 12 hours of CPU time for a full round. With >230 landed commits in the tree that originated from 150-something pull requests, with a lot of them having been worked out using multiple commits, we’ve done perhaps 500 full round CI builds in these 56 days.
This of course doesn’t include all the CPU time developers spend locally before submitting PRs or even the autobuild system that currently runs somewhere in the order of 50 builds per day. If we assume an average time spent for each build+test to take 20 minutes, this adds another 930 hours of CI hours done from the time of the previous release until this release.
To sum up, that’s about 7,000 hours of CI spent in 56 days, equaling about 520% non-stop CPU time!
We are grateful for all the help we get!
The next release will ship on December 12, 2018 unless something urgent happens before that.
Note that this date breaks the regular eight week release cycle and is only six weeks off. We do this since the originally planned date would happen in the middle of Christmas when “someone” plans to be off traveling…
The next release will probably become 7.63.0 since we already have new changes knocking on the door waiting to get merged that will warrant another minor number bump. Stay tuned for details!
Yet again we say hello to a new curl release that has been uploaded to the servers and sent off into the world. Version 7.61.0 (full changelog). It has been exactly eight weeks since 7.60.0 shipped.
the 175th release
56 days (total: 7,419) 88 bug fixes (total: 4,538) 158 commits (total: 23,288)
3 new curl_easy_setopt() options (total: 258) 4 new curl command line option (total: 218) 55 contributors, 25 new (total: 1,766) 42 authors, 18 new (total: 596) 1 security fix (total: 81)
SMTP send heap buffer overflow (CVE-2018-0500)
A stupid heap buffer overflow that can be triggered when the application asks curl to use a smaller download buffer than default and then sends a larger file – over SMTP. Details.
The trailing dot zero in the version number reveals that we added some news this time around – again.
More microsecond timers
Over several recent releases we’ve introduced ways to extract timer information from libcurl that uses integers to return time information with microsecond resolution, as a complement to the ones we already offer using doubles. This gives a better precision and avoids forcing applications to use floating point math.
As TLS 1.3 has a different set of suites, using different names, than previous TLS versions, an application that doesn’t know if the server supports TLS 1.2 or TLS 1.3 can’t set the ciphers in the single existing option since that would use names for 1.2 and not work for 1.3 . The new option for libcurl is called CURLOPT_TLS13_CIPHERS.
Disallow user name in URL
There’s now a new option that can tell curl to not acknowledge and support user names in the URL. User names in URLs can brings some security issues since they’re often sent or stored in plain text, plus if .netrc support is enabled a script accepting externally set URLs could risk getting exposing the privately set password.
Awesome bug-fixes this time
Some of my favorites include…
Resolver local host names faster
When curl is built to use the threaded resolver, which is the default choice, it will now resolve locally available host names faster. Locally as present in /etc/hosts or in the OS cache etc.
Use latest PSL and refresh it periodically
curl can now be built to use an external PSL (Public Suffix List) file so that it can get updated independently of the curl executable and thus better keep in sync with the list and the reality of the Internet.
Rumors say there are Linux distros that might start providing and updating the PSL file in separate package, much like they provide CA certificates already.
fnmatch: use the system one if available
The somewhat rare FTP wildcard matching feature always had its own internal fnmatch implementation, but now we’ve finally ditched that in favour of the system fnmatch() function for platforms that have such a one. It shrinks footprint and removes an attack surface – we’ve had a fair share of tiresome fuzzing issues in the custom fnmatch code.
axTLS: not considered fit for use
In an effort to slowly increase our requirement on third party code that we might tell users to build curl to use, we’ve made curl fail to build if asked to use the axTLS backend. This since we have serious doubts about the quality and commitment of the code and that project. This is just step one. If no one yells and fights for axTLS’ future in curl going forward, we will remove all traces of axTLS support from curl exactly six months after step one was merged. There are plenty of other and better TLS backends to use!
When negotiating TLS version in the TLS handshake, curl will now allow TLS 1.3 by default. Previously you needed to explicitly allow that. TLS 1.3 support is not yet present everywhere so it will depend on the TLS library and its version that your curl is using.
We have several changes and new features lined up for next release. Stay tuned!
First, we will however most probably schedule a patch release, as we have two rather nasty HTTP/2 bugs filed that we want fixed. Once we have them fixed in a way we like, I think we’d like to see those go out in a patch release before the next pending feature release.
TLS 1.3 has been in development for quite some time by now, and a lot of TLS libraries already support it to some extent. At varying draft levels.
curl and libcurl has supported an explicit option to select TLS 1.3 since curl 7.52.0 (December 2016) and assuming you build curl to use a TLS library with support, you’ve been able to use TLS 1.3 with curl since at least then. The support has gradually been expanded to cover more and more libraries since then.
Today, curl and libcurl support speaking TLS 1.3 if you build it to use one of these fine TLS libraries of a recent enough version:
Secure Transport (on iOS 11 or later, and macOS 10.13 or later)
Since a long time back, the venerable network analyzer tool Wireshark (screenshot above) has provided a way to decrypt and inspect TLS traffic when sent and received by Firefox and Chrome.
You do this by making the browser tell Wireshark the SSL secrets:
set the environment variable named SSLKEYLOGFILE to a file name of your choice before you start the browser
Setting the same file name path in the Master-secret field in Wireshark. Go to Preferences->Protocols->SSL and edit the path as shown in the screenshot below.
Having done this simple operation, you can now inspect your browser’s HTTPS traffic in Wireshark. Just super handy and awesome.
Just remember that if you record TLS traffic and want to save it for analyzing later, you need to also save the file with the secrets so that you can decrypt that traffic capture at a later time as well.
Adding curl to the mix. curl can be built using a dozen different TLS libraries and not just a single one as the browsers do. It complicates matters a bit.
In the NSS library for example, which is the TLS library curl is typically built with on Redhat and Centos, handles the SSLKEYLOGFILE magic all by itself so by extension you have been able to do this trick with curl for a long time – as long as you use curl built with NSS. A pretty good argument to use that build really.
Since curl version 7.57.0 the SSLKEYLOGFILE feature can also be enabled when built with GnuTLS, BoringSSL or OpenSSL. In the latter two libs, the feature is powered by new APIs in those libraries and in GnuTLS the library’s own logic similar to how NSS does it. Since OpenSSL is the by far most popular TLS backend for curl, this feature is now brought to users more widely.
In curl 7.58.0 (due to ship on Janurary 24, 2018), this feature is built by default also for curl with OpenSSL and in 7.57.0 you need to define ENABLE_SSLKEYLOGFILE to enable it for OpenSSL and BoringSSL.
And what’s even cooler? This feature is at the same time also brought to every single application out there that is built against this or later versions of libcurl. In one single blow. now suddenly a whole world opens to make it easier for you to debug, diagnose and analyze your applications’ TLS traffic when powered by libcurl!
Like the description above for browsers, you
set the environment variable SSLKEYLOGFILE to a file name to store the secrets in
tell Wireshark to use that same file to find the TLS secrets (Preferences->Protocols->SSL), as the screenshot showed above
run the libcurl-using application (such as curl) and Wireshark will be able to inspect TLS-based protocols just fine!
Of course, as a light weight alternative: you may opt to use the –trace or –trace-ascii options with the curl tool and be fully satisfied with that. Using those command line options, curl will log everything sent and received in the protocol layer without the TLS applied. With HTTPS you’ll see all the HTTP traffic for example.
Most of the curl work to enable this feature was done by Peter Wu and Ray Satiro.