1. My free software activities, April 2017
  2. Debian Long Term Support (LTS)
    1. Kodi directory transversal
    2. Squirrelmail
    3. Fop and Batik
    4. libsndfile
    5. yaml-cpp
    6. kedpm
    7. Triage
  3. Other free software work
    1. Debiman
    2. XMonad and Emacs
    3. Emacs packaging
    4. ikiwiki
    5. Other stuff

Debian Long Term Support (LTS)

This is my monthly Debian LTS report. My time this month was spent working on various hairy security issues, most notably XBMC (now known as Kodi) and yaml-cpp.

Kodi directory transversal

I started by looking in CVE-2017-5982, a "directory traversal" vulnerability in XBMC (now known as Kodi) which is a technical term for "allow attackers to read any world-readable file on your computer from the network". It's a serious vulnerability which has no known fix. When you enable the "remote control" interface in Kodi, it allows anyone with the password (which is disabled by default) to download any files Kodi has read access to on the machine it's running. Considering Kodi is often connected to multiple services, this may mean elevated compromise and more nasty stuff.

I furthered the investigation done with my own analysis which showed the problem is difficult to solve: Kodi internally uses the facility to show thumbnails and media to the user, and there are no clear way of restricting which paths Kodi should have access to. Indeed, Kodi is designed to access mounted file systems and paths in arbitrary locations. In Debian bug #855225, I further confirmed confirmed wheezy and jessie-backports as vulnerable and therefore showed with good certainty that stretch and sid are vulnerable as well. I also suggested possible workaround, but at this point, it's in upstream's hands, as the changes will be intrusive. The file transfer mechanism need to be revamped all over Kodi, or authentication (with a proper password policy), need to be enforced.

Squirrelmail

Next I looked at that old webmail software, Squirrelmail, which suffers from a remote code execution vulnerability (CVE-2017-7692) when sending mails with sendmail on the commandline. This is arguably an edge case, but considering the patch was simple, I figured I would provide an update to the LTS community. I tried to get a coordinated release for jessie, since the code is the same, but this wasn't completed at the time of writing. A patch is available and will hopefully be picked up by another LTS worker soon.

Fop and Batik

Those issues (CVE-2017-5661 and CVE-2017-5662) were more difficult. The patches weren't clearly documented and there were no upstream references other than security advisories for the first release in years (in the case of batik) or months (in the case of fop), which made it hard to track down the issues. Fortunately, I was able to track down the upstream issues (FOP-2668 and BATIK-1139) where I got confirmation on what the proper fixes were. I could then release DLA-927-1 and DLA-926-1 with the backported patches.

I do not use fop or batik. In fact, even after reading the homepage of both products, I couldn't quite figure out what use people could possibly have for that thing. Before uploading the packages, I therefore made packages available for testing for fop and batik.

libsndfile

Next up was libsndfile which a bunch of overflows when parsing various audio files. I backported a patch for CVE-2017-7585 CVE-2017-7586 and CVE-2017-7741 which all seemed to be fixed by a single patch usptream. CVE-2017-7742 was also fixed, although with a separate patch. In all of those, i could only test CVE-2017-7741 and CVE-2017-7742, as the others were missing test cases.

I provided a test package for a few days then I also figured it would be best to incorporate the security fixes done in stable, which brought in fixes for CVE-2015-7805, CVE-2014-9756 and CVE-2014-9496. So in the end, I ported patches from wheezy to jessie and uploaded the jessie version (reverting certain build changes) into wheezy and uploaded DLA-928-1 with the results.

yaml-cpp

I then turned to yaml-cpp, a C++ parser for YAML. This one didn't have a known upstream fix, but I figured I would give it a shot anyways. I ended up writing my first C++ code in years which is still pending review and merge upstream. It's not an easy problem to fix: this is basically an excessive recursion problem that can be used to smash the stack. I figured I could introduce a recursion limit, but as the discussion showed, this is a limited approach: stack size varies on different platforms and it's not easy to find the right limit.

The real solution is to rewrite the code to avoid recursion but that's a major code refactoring I didn't feel belong in a LTS update. Besides, this could be better handled by upstream, so I will leave things at that for now. It does make you wonder how much code out there is recursing on untrusted data structures...

kedpm

Finally, a friend over at Koumbit.org reported Debian bug #860817, as information leak in kedpm, a password manager I previously maintained. I requested and got assigned CVE-2017-8296 and provided a fix for wheezy and jessie. For unstable and the coming stretch release, I have requested kedpm to be completely removed from Debian (Debian bug #860817) which involved a release notes update (Debian bug #861277).

It's unfortunate to see software go, but kedpm wasn't maintained. I wasn't the original author: I just gave a few patches and ended up maintaining that software and not using it. It's a bad situation to be in, as you don't really know what's working and not with the tools you are supposed to be responsible for. There are more modern alternatives available now and I encourage everyone to switch.

Triage

Looking for more work, I peeked a bit in the secretary tasks to triage some pending issues. I found that trafficserver could be crashed with simple requests (CVE-2017-5659) so I looked into that issue. My analysis showed that the patch is long and complex and could be difficult to backport to the old version available in wheezy. I also couldn't reproduce the issue in wheezy, so it may be a bug introduced only later, although I couldn't confirm that directly.

I also triaged wireshark, where I just noted the maintainer expressed concern that we were taking up issues too fast and will probably take care of this one. I also postponed various issues in GnuTLS (marked "no-dsa") as they affect only a (unfortunately) rarely used part of GnuTLS that has been removed in later version: OpenPGP support.

Other free software work

Debiman

I finally got around contributing to the debiman project. I worked on ensuring that there is a dman compatibility in debiman, by shipping dman in the debian-goodies package (Debian bug #860920). I also submitted a pull request to fix the fix about page title, document the custom assets repository, fix a stray bracket and link to the link to venerable man7.org project

After a discussion on IRC, I also filed a few more issues:

I'm happy to be able to contribute to this important service and I hope the new FAQ I created will be online soon!

XMonad and Emacs

I started using writeroom-mode again as part of my work on LWN. As it turns out, my setup was not exactly working: I had to port my config to the new version and windows weren't "sticky" as they should be, a known issue with Xmonad. Indeed, Xmonad doesn't obey the "static" or "all desktops" standard directives.

Writeroom is a "distraction-free writing" mode for Emacs, so the irony of working on such a deep distraction in establishing a distraction free environment is not lost on me.

Needing to scratch that particular itch, and with the help of clever people from the IRC channel, I was able to make Emacs tell Xmonad to show its window (or "frame" as Emacs likes to call it) on all desktops. This involved creating a new function which I think could be useful in the CopyWindow library:

-- | Toggle between "copyToAll" or "killAllOtherCopies". Copies to all
-- workspaces, or remove from all other workspaces, depending on
-- previous state (checked with "wsContainingCopies").
copyToAllToggle :: X ()
copyToAllToggle = do
    -- check which workspaces have copies
    copies <- wsContainingCopies
    if null copies
      then windows copyToAll -- no workspaces, make sticky
      else killAllOtherCopies -- already other workspaces, unstick

There are probably better ways of implementing this directly in the CopyWindow code - wsContainingCopies, in particular, is probably overkill. But it's all I can use directly from my xmonad.hs, so that's what I did.

The other bit I needed was something to trigger that function from the outside. I rejected the ServerMode hook because it looked a bit too complicated and there is a built-in facility within X that works without this, which, from Emacs' point of view, is the x-send-client-message function. So I made up a new message identifier and wrote a event hook handler to process it:

-- | handle X client messages that tell Xmonad to make a window appear
-- on all workspaces
--
-- this should really be using _NET_WM_STATE and
-- _NET_WM_STATE_STICKY. but that's more complicated: then we'd need
-- to inspect a window and figure out the current state and act
-- accordingly. I am not good enough with Xmonad to figure out that
-- part yet.
--
-- Instead, just check for the relevant message and check if the
-- focused window is already on all workspaces and toggle based on
-- that.
--
-- this is designed to interoperate with Emacs's writeroom-mode module
-- and called be called from elisp with:
--
-- (x-send-client-message nil 0 nil "XMONAD_COPY_ALL_SELF" 8 '(0))
myClientMessageEventHook :: Event -> X All
myClientMessageEventHook (ClientMessageEvent {ev_message_type = mt, ev_data = dt}) = do
  dpy <- asks display
  -- the client message we're expecting
  copyAllMsg <- io $ internAtom dpy "XMONAD_COPY_ALL_SELF" False
  -- if the event matches the message we expect, toggle sticky state
  when (mt == copyAllMsg && dt /= []) $ do
    copyToAllToggle
  -- we processed the event completely
  return $ All True

All that was left was to hook that into Emacs, and I was done! Whoohoo! Full screen total domination, distraction free work! :)

I would love to hear from others what they think of that approach, if they have improvements or if the above copyToAllToggle function could be merged in. Ideally, Xmonad would just parse the STICKY client messages and do the right thing - maybe even directly in CopyWindow - but I have found this enough Haskell for one day.

You can see the diff on my home directory to see exactly the changes involved to make this configuration work.

Emacs packaging

Speaking of Emacs, after complaining in the noisy #emacs IRC channel about the poor TLS configuration of marmelade.org -- and filing a bug (Debian bug #861106) regarding the use of SHA-1 in certificate pinning -- I was told we shouldn't expect trust from third-party ELPA repositories. Marmelade seems to be dead, as the maintainer is "behind the great firewall of China" and MELPA still hasn't figured out how to sign packages. In the end, it seems like there are tons of elpa packages in Debian and that if your favorite one is missing, that's a bug that can be filed and fixed.

I first discovered that 6 of the packages I used were already packaged:

And so I went ahead and filed a ton more bugs for the packages I am using but that aren't in Debian just yet:

Of those, I can't recommend multiple-cursors (MC) enough: I used it at least 4 times just writing this text. It's just awesome. The other ones are also all great in their own right of course, but I feel they are more specific to my workflow whereas MC is just amazing.

ikiwiki

I did some more work on ikiwiki the software driving this blog. I created a new plugin to, at least, fix anchors in the table of contents to be human readable. This is something I had done on the MoinMoin wiki almost a decade ago -- which I called then NicerHeadingIds and that I have always found frustrating with Ikiwiki.

It turns out the problem was both easier and hairier than I thought. Right from the start, something weird was happening: something was already adding nice headings, but they were somewhat broken. It turns out that multimarkdown already inserts those headers, but I wasn't satisfied with the way they were generated. But even worse, I had the headinganchors plugin enabled, but that plugin wasn't taking effect, because of multimarkdown. And even if it would take effect, it doesn't behave well with non-ASCII characters, which gets turned in their numeric presentation.

So I also wrote the i18nheadinganchors plugin that creates better headings and patched the toc plugin so that it can reuse existing anchors if they exist, while keeping backwards compatibility. I hope this gets merged in a future ikiwiki release so I do not have to carry this patch locally too long...

In other news, I have upgraded the ikiwiki-hosting package to the latest version and sent a patch upstream to provide HSTS support.

Other stuff

I have migrated all my public repos hosted on my home server to either Gitlab.com or Github. I also have repositories on 0xacab and it seemed ludicrous to have 4 different, canonical, places where my code was hosted. I have now about 40 different projects on Gitlab and about 60 on Github, although most of the latter are forks of existing projects.

I also made a manpage for stressant and moved the documentation to RTFD which makes it neatly accessible. I also made small incremental improvements (like --directory support).

I installed Rainloop on this server to give a nice, mobile-friendly webmail. Instructions to replicate this setup are in mail.

In the constant git-annex documentation effort, I tried to draft a user guide that could be a basis for restructuring the documentation to be more easily accessible. I also helped a friend put his documentation on the wiki in splitting a repository.

Finally, I also looked into Android stuff a little more. I wrote a usability review of the F-Droid privileged extension that will bring good changes, I hope. I also opened the discussion regarding reproducible builds to try and clarify exactly how those worked to help the Wallabag people ship consistently signed alphas. So far, it seems that it will remain a standard practice on F-Droid to ship packages that are not signed by the official upstream signature, unfortunately, unless upstream provides a reproducible build that is publicly available... Switching to such build is also a hairy issue, as, obviously, the signature changes, which raises the alarm we are trying to avoid in the first place.

Created . Edited .