Zero-copy network transmission with vmsplice

This post completes a set that also includes asynchronous reading with PACKET_RX_RING and asynchronous writing with PACKET_TX_RING. In this post, we look at sending packets out over a raw socket in zero-copy fashion.

First, understand that the presented code is a silly hack: it requires four system calls for each transmitted packet, so will never be fast. I post it here because the code can be helpful in other situations where you want to use vmsplice.

Second, note that splice support is a protocol-specific feature. Raw sockets support it as of recent kernels. I believe 2.6.36 has it, but would not be surprised if it is lacking in 2.6.34, for instance (please leave a comment if you know when it was introduced).

The basic idea is to send data to a network socket without copying using vmsplice(). But, the vmsplice syscall will only splice into a pipe, not a network socket. Thus, the data first has to be appended to a pipe and then has to be moved to the socket using a splice() call. One e…

Asynchronous packet socket writing with PACKET_TX_RING

2016 update This post is quite old by now. For a more recent example, take a look at

In my last post, I showed how you can read packets enqueued on a packet socket without system calls, by setting up a memory mapped ring buffer between kernel and userspace. Since version 2.6.31, the kernel also supports a transmission ring (or at least, the macro exists since that version; I tested this code against version 2.6.36).

Setting up of a transmission ring is trivial once you know how to create a reception ring. In the setup snippet of the previous post, simply change the call to init_packet_sock to read
  fd = init_packetsock(&ring, PACKET_TX_RING);
Then, at runtime, write packets as follows:
  /// transmit a packet using packet ring // NOTE: for high rate processing try to batch system calls, // by writing multiple packets to the ring before calling send() // // @param pkt is a packet from the network la…

Asynchronous packet socket reading with PACKET_RX_RING

2016 update This post is quite old by now. For a more recent example, take a look at

Since Linux 2.6.2x, processes can read network packets asynchronously using a packet socket ring buffer. By setting the socket option SOL_SOCKET PACKET_RX_RING on a packet socket, the kernel allocates a ring buffer to hold packets. It will then copy all packets that a caller would have had to read using read() to this ring buffer. The caller then maps the ring into its virtual memory by executing an mmap() call on the packet socket and from then on can read packets without issuing any system calls. It signals the kernel that it has finished processing a packet by setting a value in a header structure that is prefixed to the packet. If the caller has processed all outstanding packets, it can block by isssuing a select() involving the packet socket.

This snippet shows how to set up a packet socket with ring
  #include <stdlib.h&…

HOWTO: bind to a non local address (transparent proxy)

In certain situations, you may want to send packets as if they're coming from a different computer. Linux prevents such IP address spoofing by default, because the most well known use is as a malicious spoofing attack. Still, there are legitimate reasons. For instance, a transparent proxy intercepts traffic and replies in name of the original destination. Especially with larger sites, it is common to setup a virtual destination address and have a set of servers handle the load by mimicking this virtual host.

In Linux 2.6+, to spoof packets in IPv4, bind an INET socket to a non-local address, as in this straightforward example:

  #include <errno.h> #include <netinet/in.h> #include <stdio.h> #include <stdlib.h> #include <string.h> #include <sys/socket.h> #include <sys/types.h> #include <unistd.h> #define SPOOFPORT 80 // really, whichever you want #define SPOOFADDR ((214 << 24) + 1) // address to impersonate int…

HOWTO: Enable console autologin on Ubuntu

This entry explains how you can automatically login to your Ubuntu machine. Warning: the following is a security hazard on network attached and publicly accessible machines.
On throwaway development boxes, on the other hand, you sometimes need to reboot often and want to skip the annoying login. Only use this on inherently private machines: those that are physically secure and disconnected from the internet.

Traditional LinuxOn traditionally configured linux machines, download mingetty from sourceforge, compile and install it and then edit /etc/inittab. For each console, replace lines such as
1:1:respawn:/etc/getty 9600 tty with
1:1:respawn:/sbin/mingetty --autologin USERNAME tty1 To be automatically presented with a logged-in console on boot, also disable your graphical login managers. These are usually active on console 7.

UbuntuUbuntu sometimes deviates from standard practice; the boot process is one example. First, to install mingetty, just runsudo apt-get install mingetty
Ubuntu 9.0…

A Simple Python NodeVisitor Example

The Python ast module helps parsing python code into its abstract syntax tree and manipulating the tree. This is immensely useful, e.g., when you want to inspect code for safety or correctness. This page walks you through a very simple example to get you up and running quickly.

A Very Simple ParserThe first step to analyzing a program is parsing the textual source code into an in-memory walkable tree. Module ast takes away the hard task of implementing a generic lexer and python parser with the function ast.parse(). The module also takes care of walking the tree. All you have to do is implement analysis code for the type of statements you are want to analyze. To do this, you implement a class that derives from class ast.NodeVisitor and only override the member functions that are pertinent to your analysis.

NodeVisitor exposes callback member functions that the tree walker ("node visitor") calls when it encounters particular python statements, one for each type of statement in…

Pierce Firewall from within using netcat (e.g., for Bittorrent)

Opening ports in a firewallIf you find yourself behind a firewall that you cannot control, you often have no open network ports for others to contact you on. End-users generally only need this for peer to peer applications, such as Bittorrent and Skype.
Pretend to initiate an outbound connection using NetcatEach time you make an outbound connection, the firewall creates a temporary opening to allow the other side to respond (say, Google to return your search results). You can exploit this feature to run Bittorrent or other servers. Pierce the firewall with a packet that originates from your computer and from the port that you want others to later contact you on (say, 6881 for Bittorrent). The easiest is to send a packet using netcat Using openbsd netcat, this worked for me:
nc -p 6881 80 Don't wait for a reply, just send the request, close netcat and open your real application. Note that the port will only remain open for a limited time if there is no traffic, so anot…