24 June, 2011

non-cidr netmask: "worked in testing but broke colleagues' brains"

CIDR prefix length (for example, the 24 in is a more concise notation for (a commonly used subset of) netmasks.

A prefix length contains less information - it can only represent netmasks that consist of a sequence of 1 bits, followed by 0 bits to the end. For example, /24 is 11111111111111111111111100000000 (24 1s and then 32-24=8 0s)

This is useful because thats how most people use netmasks.

But there's a set of netmasks that aren't representable this way - for example 11111111000000001111111100000000.

Did anyone ever use netmasks that weren't prefix-length-representable? Apparently yes:

Addresses were allocated from these networks sequentially, and the oldest
web sites tended to get the most traffic, so a straightforward setup that
spread the six /18s across the reverse proxies didn't balance the load
particularly well. I toyed with using 0xffff0003 netmasks to split the /16
so that successive addresses could be routed to each of the four London
reverse proxies in turn.

This worked in testing but I didn't deploy it because it broke my
colleagues' brains and non-contiguous netmasks were an unsupported

18 June, 2011

password policy for ssh key hosts

I have a host with a handful of users. When they authenticate, they have to use either ssh public key or openid - there is no on-machine password. But some of the services that are running pretty much need a password: for example, IMAP, SMTP AUTH, web portal.

I'd like to give these users the ability to acquire a password.

Two ways are immediately apparent:
  • Implement a mechanism which presents the user with a new machine-generated password, for example to their registered email address.
  • Allow the user to run passwd in a shell, but not require them to enter their existing password first (instead, rely on the fact that they are logged in to be sufficient authentication).

Dear Reader, can you think of other ways? Do you have any opinions on the wiseness/unwiseness of these approaches?

10 June, 2011

roman numeral literals using Template Haskell

I've know about Template Haskell (TH) for ages but never used it. As a diversion from another project, I thought I'd try to implement roman numeral literals for Haskell, using TH -- this seems an easy way to get started without having to dig in too far.

I already wrote some Haskell roman numeral code which gives a function numeralsToInteger :: String -> Integer. I tweaked its source code a bit (it wasn't a module previously, for example) and can write this:

import Roman

main = do
  putStrLn "roman test 1 (this should print 1998 below)"
  print $ numeralsToInteger "MCMXCVIII"

What I want to do with TH is shorten the syntax and make the roman->literal conversion happen at compile time instead of at runtime.

I'll try to use TH's quasi-quoter syntax, which should allow me to write:
print [ro|MCMXCVIII|]

ro is the name I've chosen for my quasiquoter, and the [...|...|] bracket syntax comes from template haskell quasiquoting.

What will happen is that everything inside those [|brackets|] will be passed to my code, which can return an arbitrary Haskell expression to be substituted at compile time. Think C-style #define on steroids.

In my case, I'll always be returning an integer literal expression. The value of that literal will be determined by parsing the roman numeral.

I need to define ro :: Language.Haskell.TH.Quote.QuasiQuoter, and it needs to live in a different module (so that it can be compiled before attempting to parse anything that uses that quasiquoter)

I want to use my quasiquoter to return an expression. They can be used in more contexts than that (for example, when a type is needed). I'll make the other contexts into an error, which leaves only the hard one that parses and returns my expression. (after doing a bunch of fiddling Agda, it feels like a relief to be able to say "oh, I'll just make that an error).

It turns out that the code is mostly plumbing. RomanTH.hs looks like this:

module RomanTH where

import Roman
import Language.Haskell.TH
import Language.Haskell.TH.Quote

ro :: Language.Haskell.TH.Quote.QuasiQuoter
ro = QuasiQuoter parser err err err

err = error "Roman numeral quasiquoter cannot be used in this context"

parser :: String -> Q Exp
parser s = litE (IntegerL (numeralsToInteger s))

which is all types and wiring except the functionparser s = litE (IntegerL (numeralsToInteger s)) which means (right-to-left) convert string to an Integer, embed it in a literal type, and embed that inside an expression.

The complete test program looks like this:

import RomanTH

main = do
  putStrLn "roman test 2 (this should print 1998 below)"
  print [ro|MCMXCVIII|]

and runs like this:

$ ./test2 
roman test 2 (this should print 1998 below)

Well, that took all of 36 minutes.

08 June, 2011

best ipv6 address seen so far


It even works, serving http for sprint.net

June 8th is world IPv6 day!

June 8th is ISOC's "world ipv6 day". According to the organisers:

On 8 June, 2011, Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Akamai and Limelight Networks will be amongst some of the major organisations that will offer their content over IPv6 for a 24-hour “test flight”. The goal of the Test Flight Day is to motivate organizations across the industry – Internet service providers, hardware makers, operating system vendors and web companies – to prepare their services for IPv6 to ensure a successful transition as IPv4 addresses run out.

Some of us have been trying to do that for years ;)

Anyway, some things you can do:
  • Read all the ipv6 related posts on this blog
  • Make sure you are using IPv6 certified cable
  • Play loops of zen, an ipv6-only browser tile-puzzle
  • If your ISP does not provide IPv6 and you want easy IPv6 access for a single workstation, I recommend the teredo protocol (its built into windows, and you can apt-get miredo on debian. For a server or network installation, take a look at Hurricane Electric's tunnel broker which will give you a /48 prefix routed over your normal internet connection.
  • If you're on ipv6 already and you're feeling hardcore you can use NAT64 and DNS64 to get rid of all your local ipv4 traffic, instead routing it all through a NAT gateway at (for example) Andrews and Arnold.