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[GSoC 2017] Point-to-point

From: Joan Lledó
Subject: [GSoC 2017] Point-to-point
Date: Sun, 6 Aug 2017 09:22:49 +0200

The last item in my initial TODO list was implementing the --peer
option available in pfinet. This week I've been working on it and it's
now done, so I can say the LwIP translator is now able to replace

The --peer option is provided by pfinet for setting the peer's address
in a point-to-point interface like PPP, tunnel, etc. Although as far
as I know, the only point-to-point solution actually working on pfinet
is setting a OpenVPN client over a tunnel device. Currently, when the
user adds --peer option to the command line, pfinet just assigns its
value to an internal variable in the given interface, but it doesn't
seem to be using it afterwards. The thing is that, actually, the stack
doesn't need to know the peer address when working behind OpenVPN.
I'll briefly explain how this all works.

Let's say our organization has an internal web application that must
be only accessed by the authorized personnel. In this case, the HTTP
server must only answer to requests coming from the network To simplify the schema, let's suppose the HTTP and the
OpenVPN server are both in the same host. Then the schema would look
as follows:


As we may see at the schema, the user LwIP is working to all intents
and purposes as if it were plugged to the network,
therefore, we may set its IPv4 parameters as usual:

settrans -fga $HOME/servers/socket/2 /hurd/lwip -6
$HOME/servers/socket/26 -i $HOME/dev/tun0 -a -m

The system LwIP is also configured as usual to provide access to the
Internet, so we haven't needed to give any --peer parameter in either
cases. Regarding the tunnel, the trick is that, on one side, the user
LwIP is passing packets to the tunnel like any other interface; and,
on the other side, the tunnel is a regular file that can be opened for
reading or writing by the OpenVPN client.

A remarkable feature is the following: with this design, the user can
choose which transit will go through the VPN and which not. For
instance, if the user wants to download a file from the HTTP server,
it may be done as follows:

remap /servers/socket/2 $HOME/servers/socket/2 /servers/socket/26
$HOME/servers/socket/26 -- wget

Whereas if the user doesn't remap the RPCs, the transit will go out
through the system LwIP:

wget https://www.gnu.org/

And all of this may be done without root permissions.

I think it's a good moment to think about how could we add support for
PPP on the Hurd. The current stack, pfinet, doesn't support PPP
whereas LwIP does, but it provides a rather unsuitable API[2] for us.
According to the documentation, what LwIP provides is a pppd port
modified to be lightweight. If we were working on an embedded system,
the API provided by LwIP would be perfect, because in an embedded
system everything would be in the same binary: RTOS, the stack and the
user program which could directly call functions like ppp_set_auth()
or ppp_connect(). But in a Unix-like system like the Hurd, what we
want is to use the original pppd and give it the proper tools for
communicating with the stack and creating new pppX interfaces. With my
current knowledge about PPP, it's not quite clear to me whether we
would need to create new operations or even a new MIG interface, but
it seems an interesting topic to study in the future.

[1] http://darnassus.sceen.net/~jlledom/assets/09-ptp-1.png
[2] http://www.nongnu.org/lwip/2_0_x/group__ppp.html

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