New FreeBSD Foundation funded project: Capsicum improvements

The FreeBSD Foundation has announced that Pawel Jakub Dawidek has been awarded a grant to develop a comprehensive userspace framework for writing Capsicum-based applications, building on the kernel features originally developed by the University of Cambridge and Google Research. Pawel was rewarded grants previously for the HAST and auditdistd projects.

This framework will include a Capsicum runtime linker and component library providing sandboxed versions of key higher-level system libraries. Components will both be sandboxed, improving resistance to vulnerabilities, and also easily available for delegation to sandboxed applications, such as the Chromium web browser. The prototype libcapsicum developed by Cambridge will be analyzed and updated based on lessons learned in implementing Capsicumised software packages, such as hastd and auditdistd. Funding for this project will be provided by the FreeBSD Foundation matched 100% by the Google Open Source Program Office, in support of open source technology transition of Capsicum.

“A continuing challenge in security is to find solutions that not only fix the problems but also can be applied to existing technologies: attractive though the notion is, we are not going to persuade the world to rewrite everything! This is why we at Google are pleased and excited to support the continuing development of Capsicum, which radically improves the security of UNIX based systems whilst allowing a continuous migration path from today’s mechanisms to tomorrow’s,”

said Ben Laurie, Google Senior Staff Software Engineer.

“I’m very excited to be able to work on Capsicum. Some of my software is already using Capsicum, so I’m fully aware of the great potential of this framework. This technology is so much superior than the current attempts to provide sandboxing using tools like chroot(2) or unprivileged user credentials. No matter how corny it sounds, I strongly believe Capsicum can make the Internet a safer place.”

said Pawel.

This project will conclude in August, 2012

PHK says md5crypt() algorithm no longer secure

This week has been interesting with regards to online security: LinkedIn, Last.fm, eHarmony, et al had security issues and breaches.

Not directly related to these breaches, but still in the realm of security, Poul-Henning Kamp, the author of md5crypt(), has said that md5crypt() is no longer secure despite being recommended as a password hashing function. md5crypt is used to encrypt passwords on some FreeBSD systems.

The md5crypt password scrambler was created in 1995 by yours truly and was, back then, a sufficiently strong protection for passwords.

New research has shown that it can be run at a rate close to 1 million checks per second on COTS GPU hardware, which means that it is as prone to brute-force attacks as the DES based UNIX crypt was back in 1995: Any 8 character password can be found in a couple of days.

As the author of md5crypt, I implore everybody to migrate to a stronger password scrambler without undue delay.

Continues

Miscelaneous FreeBSD news updates (KDE, PC-BSD, Raspberry Pi, FBSD Foundation, OSI)

Below some miscelaneous links to FreeBSD related news and updates:

KDE/FreeBSD Bulletin with recent FreeBSD KDE ports related updates.

PC-BSD 20120605 Snapshot now available for testing. There’s also a BSD Talk interview (BSDTalk 2016) with Kris Moore, founder of the PC-BSD project, which was recorded during BSDCan 2012. Kris talks about the features going into PC-BSD 9.1.

There are some FreeBSD developers that are trying to get FreeBSD running on the Raspberry Pi, a $25 ARM Linux/GNU box: Porting FreeBSD to the Raspberry Pi.

FreeBSD, a world apart (translatedfrom Spanish with Google Translate) – interesting blog post with some FreeBSDD background information. I like the collection of open source logos.

FreeBSD Foundation prepares launch of East Coast Mirror at NYI (announement)

Simon Phipps is the new OSI President:

Phipps has already been spearheading an OSI reform process, working with the rest of the board to open up the organisation. That process has led to the creation of Open Source Initiative affiliation, bringing the Apache Software Foundation, FreeBSD, Eclipse, Mozilla, Debian, and Creative Commons, along with other organisations, on board as affiliates.

Call for Testing (CfT): xorg 7.7

Martin Wilke has put out a call for people to help him test xorg 7.7, an open source implementation of the X Window System.

The FreeBSD Xorg Team is pleased to announce Xorg 7.7 Release. We are very happy to be able to Call for testing shortly after the Xorg team annouced 7.7 release. This CFT is also open for discussion on how we should move forward with xorg release as we are facing some issues and we would like to ask for your opinion. Right now we have 2 existing xorg versions in our Ports Tree. The situation is quite bad due to our poor graphic card support. That means we do not have much choice but to take it as how it is now. But with regards to mesa support, we have to face some new challenges.

Read the whole post and the instructions here: [CFT] Xorg 7.7 ready for testing!

 

BSDCan 2012 – “The technical BSD conference

Martin Cracauer, a FreeBSD developer, went to BSDCan 2012 and wrote up his experience on the Open Source at Google blog: BSDCan 2012 – “The technical BSD conference”. I’m sure this will have been read by many with an open source interst (26716 RSS followers). Good marketing!

The FreeBSD Foundation funded some FreeBSD developers’ and contributors’ travel expenses. In return they have sumarised what the did at BSDCan, how they got involved and what it means to them.

Read the feedback from:

Some of the BSDCan presentations can be viewed here, in case you missed them.

Why should you be using FreeBSD?

David Chisnall, a FreeBSD developer, asked on the FreeBSD mailing list why people are using FreeBSD: Why Are You Using FreeBSD?

You may have guessed, but there are many, different reasons.  The following are some reasons why FreeBSD is still alive and FreeBSD users don’t have a need to migrate to Linux:

  • The FreeBSD community focuses more on the technology than on licensing and ‘evangelism’
  • FreeBSD is Stable. Simple!
  • Well-structured, complete operating system (i.e. filesystem, kernel and its config, etc)
  • The ports system; it’s stable and mostly up-to-date
  • FreeBSD known for its ability to handle heavy network traffic with high performance and rock solid reliability
  • FreeBSD is the system of choice for high performance network
  • A kick-ass combo of features and very server-focused.
  • FreeBSD is NOT Linux = FreeBSD is stable, reliable, simple
  • FreeBSD is not as fragmented as Linux
  • The one community. There’s one community, always willing to help out.
  • The BSD license. Contrary to popular belief, it has brought a lot of high quality development to FreeBSD
  • Universal toolkit. FreeBSD scales easily from the thinnest embedded system, to various desktops to huge servers — all with the same familiar tools and environment.

These and other reasons can now be found on the Why Use FreeBSD wiki page.

Obviously, since we all have different likings and requirements, FreeBSD won’t be of use to all. Based on feedback from the mailinglist Phoronix also summarised the reasons why not to use FreeBSD.

Thanks to Charles Rapenne for reminding me to post this.