Networking

Lab objectives

  • Understanding the Linux kernel networking architecture
  • Acquiring practical IP packet management skills using a packet filter or firewall
  • Familiarize yourself with how to use sockets at the Linux kernel level

Overview

The development of the Internet has led to an exponential increase in network applications and, as a consequence, to increasing the speed and productivity requirements of an operating system’s networking subsystem. The networking subsystem is not an essential component of an operating system kernel (the Linux kernel can be compiled without networking support). It is, however, quite unlikely for a computing system (or even an embedded device) to have a non-networked operating system due to the need for connectivity. Modern operating systems use the TCP/IP stack. Their kernel implements protocols up to the transport layer, while application layer protocols are tipically implemented in user space (HTTP, FTP, SSH, etc.).

Networking in user space

In user space the abstraction of network communication is the socket. The socket abstracts a communication channel and is the kernel-based TCP/IP stack interaction interface. An IP socket is associated with an IP address, the transport layer protocol used (TCP, UDP etc) and a port. Common function calls that use sockets are: creation (socket), initialization (bind), connecting (connect), waiting for a connection (listen, accept), closing a socket (close).

Network communication is accomplished via read/write or recv/send calls for TCP sockets and recvfrom/sendto for UDP sockets. Transmission and reception operations are transparent to the application, leaving encapsulation and transmission over network at the kernel’s discretion. However, it is possible to implement the TCP/IP stack in user space using raw sockets (the PF_PACKET option when creating a socket), or implementing an application layer protocol in kernel (TUX web server).

For more details about user space programming using sockets, see Bee’s Guide to Network Programming Using Internet Sockets.

Linux networking

The Linux kernel provides three basic structures for working with network packets: struct socket, struct sock and struct sk_buff.

The first two are abstractions of a socket:

  • struct socket is an abstraction very close to user space, ie BSD sockets used to program network applications;
  • struct sock or INET socket in Linux terminology is the network representation of a socket.

The two structures are related: the struct socket contains an INET socket field, and the struct sock has a BSD socket that holds it.

The struct sk_buff structure is the representation of a network packet and its status. The structure is created when a kernel packet is received, either from the user space or from the network interface.

The struct socket structure

The struct socket structure is the kernel representation of a BSD socket, the operations that can be executed on it are similar to those offered by the kernel (through system calls). Common operations with sockets (creation, initialization/bind, closing, etc.) result in specific system calls; they work with the struct socket structure.

The struct socket operations are described in net/socket.c and are independent of the protocol type. The struct socket structure is thus a generic interface over particular network operations implementations. Typically, the names of these operations begin with the sock_ prefix.

Operations on the socket structure

Socket operations are:

Creation

Creation is similar to calling the socket() function in user space, but the struct socket created will be stored in the res parameter:

  • int sock_create(int family, int type, int protocol, struct socket **res) creates a socket after the socket() system call;
  • int sock_create_kern(struct net *net, int family, int type, int protocol, struct socket **res) creates a kernel socket;
  • int sock_create_lite(int family, int type, int protocol, struct socket **res) creates a kernel socket without parameter sanity checks.

The parameters of these calls are as follows:

  • net, where it is present, used as reference to the network namespace used; we will usually initialize it with init_net;
  • family represents the family of protocols used in the transfer of information; they usually begin with the PF_ (Protocol Family) string; the constants representing the family of protocols used are found in linux/socket.h, of which the most commonly used is PF_INET, for TCP/IP protocols;
  • type is the type of socket; the constants used for this parameter are found in linux/net.h, of which the most used are SOCK_STREAM for a connection based source-to-destination communication and SOCK_DGRAM for connectionless communication;
  • protocol represents the protocol used and is closely related to the type parameter; the constants used for this parameter are found in linux/in.h, of which the most used are IPPROTO_TCP for TCP and IPPROTO_UDP for UDP.

To create a TCP socket in kernel space, you must call:

struct socket *sock;
int err;

err = sock_create_kern(&init_net, PF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, IPPROTO_TCP, &sock);
if (err < 0) {
        /* handle error */
}

and for creating UDP sockets:

struct socket *sock;
int err;

err = sock_create_kern(&init_net, PF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, IPPROTO_UDP, &sock);
if (err < 0) {
        /* handle error */
}

A usage sample is part of the sys_socket() system call handler:

SYSCALL_DEFINE3(socket, int, family, int, type, int, protocol)
{
      int retval;
      struct socket *sock;
      int flags;

      /* Check the SOCK_* constants for consistency.  */
      BUILD_BUG_ON(SOCK_CLOEXEC != O_CLOEXEC);
      BUILD_BUG_ON((SOCK_MAX | SOCK_TYPE_MASK) != SOCK_TYPE_MASK);
      BUILD_BUG_ON(SOCK_CLOEXEC & SOCK_TYPE_MASK);
      BUILD_BUG_ON(SOCK_NONBLOCK & SOCK_TYPE_MASK);

      flags = type & ~SOCK_TYPE_MASK;
      if (flags & ~(SOCK_CLOEXEC | SOCK_NONBLOCK))
              return -EINVAL;
      type &= SOCK_TYPE_MASK;

      if (SOCK_NONBLOCK != O_NONBLOCK && (flags & SOCK_NONBLOCK))
              flags = (flags & ~SOCK_NONBLOCK) | O_NONBLOCK;

      retval = sock_create(family, type, protocol, &sock);
      if (retval < 0)
              goto out;

      return sock_map_fd(sock, flags & (O_CLOEXEC | O_NONBLOCK));
}
Closing

Close connection (for sockets using connection) and release associated resources:

  • void sock_release(struct socket *sock) calls the release function in the ops field of the socket structure:
void sock_release(struct socket *sock)
{
      if (sock->ops) {
              struct module *owner = sock->ops->owner;

              sock->ops->release(sock);
              sock->ops = NULL;
              module_put(owner);
      }
      //...
}
Sending/receiving messages

The messages are sent/received using the following functions:

  • int sock_recvmsg(struct socket *sock, struct msghdr *msg, int flags);
  • int kernel_recvmsg(struct socket *sock, struct msghdr *msg, struct kvec *vec, size_t num, size_t size, int flags);
  • int sock_sendmsg(struct socket *sock, struct msghdr *msg);
  • int kernel_sendmsg(struct socket *sock, struct msghdr *msg, struct kvec *vec, size_t num, size_t size);

The message sending/receiving functions will then call the sendmsg/ recvmsg function in the ops field of the socket. Functions containing kernel_ as a prefix are used when the socket is used in the kernel.

The parameters are:

  • msg, a struct msghdr structure, containing the message to be sent/received. Among the important components of this structure are msg_name and msg_namelen, which, for UDP sockets, must be filled in with the address to which the message is sent (struct sockaddr_in);
  • vec, a struct kvec structure, containing a pointer to the buffer containing its data and size; as can be seen, it has a similar structure to the struct iovec structure (the struct iovec structure corresponds to the user space data, and the struct kvec structure corresponds to kernel space data).

A usage example can be seen in the sys_sendto() system call handler:

SYSCALL_DEFINE6(sendto, int, fd, void __user *, buff, size_t, len,
              unsigned int, flags, struct sockaddr __user *, addr,
              int, addr_len)
{
      struct socket *sock;
      struct sockaddr_storage address;
      int err;
      struct msghdr msg;
      struct iovec iov;
      int fput_needed;

      err = import_single_range(WRITE, buff, len, &iov, &msg.msg_iter);
      if (unlikely(err))
              return err;
      sock = sockfd_lookup_light(fd, &err, &fput_needed);
      if (!sock)
              goto out;

      msg.msg_name = NULL;
      msg.msg_control = NULL;
      msg.msg_controllen = 0;
      msg.msg_namelen = 0;
      if (addr) {
              err = move_addr_to_kernel(addr, addr_len, &address);
              if (err < 0)
                      goto out_put;
              msg.msg_name = (struct sockaddr *)&address;
              msg.msg_namelen = addr_len;
      }
      if (sock->file->f_flags & O_NONBLOCK)
              flags |= MSG_DONTWAIT;
      msg.msg_flags = flags;
      err = sock_sendmsg(sock, &msg);

out_put:
      fput_light(sock->file, fput_needed);
out:
      return err;
}

The struct socket fields

/**
 *  struct socket - general BSD socket
 *  @state: socket state (%SS_CONNECTED, etc)
 *  @type: socket type (%SOCK_STREAM, etc)
 *  @flags: socket flags (%SOCK_NOSPACE, etc)
 *  @ops: protocol specific socket operations
 *  @file: File back pointer for gc
 *  @sk: internal networking protocol agnostic socket representation
 *  @wq: wait queue for several uses
 */
struct socket {
      socket_state            state;

      short                   type;

      unsigned long           flags;

      struct socket_wq __rcu  *wq;

      struct file             *file;
      struct sock             *sk;
      const struct proto_ops  *ops;
};

The noteworthy fields are:

  • ops - the structure that stores pointers to protocol-specific functions;
  • sk - The INET socket associated with it.
The struct proto_ops structure

The struct proto_ops structure contains the implementations of the specific operations implemented (TCP, UDP, etc.); these functions will be called from generic functions through struct socket (sock_release(), sock_sendmsg(), etc.)

The struct proto_ops structure therefore contains a number of function pointers for specific protocol implementations:

struct proto_ops {
      int             family;
      struct module   *owner;
      int             (*release)   (struct socket *sock);
      int             (*bind)      (struct socket *sock,
                                    struct sockaddr *myaddr,
                                    int sockaddr_len);
      int             (*connect)   (struct socket *sock,
                                    struct sockaddr *vaddr,
                                    int sockaddr_len, int flags);
      int             (*socketpair)(struct socket *sock1,
                                    struct socket *sock2);
      int             (*accept)    (struct socket *sock,
                                    struct socket *newsock, int flags, bool kern);
      int             (*getname)   (struct socket *sock,
                                    struct sockaddr *addr,
                                    int peer);
      //...
}

The initialization of the ops field from struct socket is done in the __sock_create() function, by calling the create() function, specific to each protocol; an equivalent call is the implementation of the __sock_create() function:

//...
      err = pf->create(net, sock, protocol, kern);
      if (err < 0)
              goto out_module_put;
//...

This will instantiate the function pointers with calls specific to the protocol type associated with the socket. The sock_register() and sock_unregister() calls are used to fill the net_families vector.

For the rest of the socket operations (other than creating, closing, and sending/receiving a message as described above in the Operations on the socket structure section), the functions sent via pointers in this structure will be called. For example, for bind, which associates a socket with a socket on the local machine, we will have the following code sequence:

#define MY_PORT 60000

struct sockaddr_in addr = {
      .sin_family = AF_INET,
      .sin_port = htons (MY_PORT),
      .sin_addr = { htonl (INADDR_LOOPBACK) }
};

//...
      err = sock->ops->bind (sock, (struct sockaddr *) &addr, sizeof(addr));
      if (err < 0) {
              /* handle error */
      }
//...

As you can see, for transmitting the address and port information that will be associated with the socket, a struct sockaddr_in is filled.

The struct sock structure

The struct sock describes an INET socket. Such a structure is associated with a user space socket and implicitly with a struct socket structure. The structure is used to store information about the status of a connection. The structure’s fields and associated operations usually begin with the sk_ string. Some fields are listed below:

struct sock {
      //...
      unsigned int            sk_padding : 1,
                              sk_no_check_tx : 1,
                              sk_no_check_rx : 1,
                              sk_userlocks : 4,
                              sk_protocol  : 8,
                              sk_type      : 16;
      //...
      struct socket           *sk_socket;
      //...
      struct sk_buff          *sk_send_head;
      //...
      void                    (*sk_state_change)(struct sock *sk);
      void                    (*sk_data_ready)(struct sock *sk);
      void                    (*sk_write_space)(struct sock *sk);
      void                    (*sk_error_report)(struct sock *sk);
      int                     (*sk_backlog_rcv)(struct sock *sk,
                                                struct sk_buff *skb);
      void                    (*sk_destruct)(struct sock *sk);
};

  • sk_protocol is the type of protocol used by the socket;
  • sk_type is the socket type (SOCK_STREAM, SOCK_DGRAM, etc.);
  • sk_socket is the BSD socket that holds it;
  • sk_send_head is the list of struct sk_buff structures for transmission;
  • the function pointers at the end are callbacks for different situations.

Initializing the struct sock and attaching it to a BSD socket is done using the callback created from net_families (called __sock_create()). Here’s how to initialize the struct sock structure for the IP protocol, in the inet_create() function:

/*
 *    Create an inet socket.
 */

static int inet_create(struct net *net, struct socket *sock, int protocol,
                     int kern)
{

      struct sock *sk;

      //...
      err = -ENOBUFS;
      sk = sk_alloc(net, PF_INET, GFP_KERNEL, answer_prot, kern);
      if (!sk)
              goto out;

      err = 0;
      if (INET_PROTOSW_REUSE & answer_flags)
              sk->sk_reuse = SK_CAN_REUSE;


      //...
      sock_init_data(sock, sk);

      sk->sk_destruct    = inet_sock_destruct;
      sk->sk_protocol    = protocol;
      sk->sk_backlog_rcv = sk->sk_prot->backlog_rcv;
      //...
}

The struct sk_buff structure

The struct sk_buff (socket buffer) describes a network packet. The structure fields contain information about both the header and packet contents, the protocols used, the network device used, and pointers to the other struct sk_buff. A summary description of the content of the structure is presented below:

struct sk_buff {
      union {
              struct {
                      /* These two members must be first. */
                      struct sk_buff          *next;
                      struct sk_buff          *prev;

                      union {
                              struct net_device       *dev;
                              /* Some protocols might use this space to store information,
                               * while device pointer would be NULL.
                               * UDP receive path is one user.
                               */
                              unsigned long           dev_scratch;
                      };
              };

              struct rb_node  rbnode; /* used in netem & tcp stack */
      };
      struct sock             *sk;

        union {
              ktime_t         tstamp;
              u64             skb_mstamp;
      };

      /*
       * This is the control buffer. It is free to use for every
       * layer. Please put your private variables there. If you
       * want to keep them across layers you have to do a skb_clone()
       * first. This is owned by whoever has the skb queued ATM.
       */
      char                    cb[48] __aligned(8);

      unsigned long           _skb_refdst;
      void                    (*destructor)(struct sk_buff *skb);
        union {
              struct {
                      unsigned long   _skb_refdst;
                      void            (*destructor)(struct sk_buff *skb);
              };
              struct list_head        tcp_tsorted_anchor;
      };
      /* ... */

      unsigned int            len,
                              data_len;
      __u16                   mac_len,
                              hdr_len;

         /* ... */

      __be16                  protocol;
      __u16                   transport_header;
      __u16                   network_header;
      __u16                   mac_header;

      /* private: */
      __u32                   headers_end[0];
      /* public: */

      /* These elements must be at the end, see alloc_skb() for details.  */
      sk_buff_data_t          tail;
      sk_buff_data_t          end;
      unsigned char           *head,
                              *data;
      unsigned int            truesize;
      refcount_t              users;
};

where:

  • next and prev are pointers to the next, and previous element in the buffer list;
  • dev is the device which sends or receives the buffer;
  • sk is the socket associated with the buffer;
  • destructor is the callback that deallocates the buffer;
  • transport_header, network_header, and mac_header are offsets between the beginning of the packet and the beginning of the various headers in the packets. They are internally maintained by the various processing layers through which the packet passes. To get pointers to the headers, use one of the following functions: tcp_hdr(), udp_hdr(), ip_hdr(), etc. In principle, each protocol provides a function to get a reference to the header of that protocol within a received packet. Keep in mind that the network_header field is not set until the packet reaches the network layer and the transport_header field is not set until the packet reaches the transport layer.

The structure of an IP header (struct iphdr) has the following fields:

struct iphdr {
#if defined(__LITTLE_ENDIAN_BITFIELD)
      __u8    ihl:4,
              version:4;
#elif defined (__BIG_ENDIAN_BITFIELD)
      __u8    version:4,
              ihl:4;
#else
#error        "Please fix <asm/byteorder.h>"
#endif
      __u8    tos;
      __be16  tot_len;
      __be16  id;
      __be16  frag_off;
      __u8    ttl;
      __u8    protocol;
      __sum16 check;
      __be32  saddr;
      __be32  daddr;
      /*The options start here. */
};

where:

  • protocol is the transport layer protocol used;
  • saddr is the source IP address;
  • daddr is the destination IP address.

The structure of a TCP header (struct tcphdr) has the following fields:

struct tcphdr {
      __be16  source;
      __be16  dest;
      __be32  seq;
      __be32  ack_seq;
#if defined(__LITTLE_ENDIAN_BITFIELD)
      __u16   res1:4,
              doff:4,
              fin:1,
              syn:1,
              rst:1,
              psh:1,
              ack:1,
              urg:1,
              ece:1,
              cwr:1;
#elif defined(__BIG_ENDIAN_BITFIELD)
      __u16   doff:4,
              res1:4,
              cwr:1,
              ece:1,
              urg:1,
              ack:1,
              psh:1,
              rst:1,
              syn:1,
              fin:1;
#else
#error        "Adjust your <asm/byteorder.h> defines"
#endif
      __be16  window;
      __sum16 check;
      __be16  urg_ptr;
};

where:

  • source is the source port;
  • dest is the destination port;
  • syn, ack, fin are the TCP flags used; for a more detailed view, see this diagram.

The structure of a UDP header (struct udphdr) has the following fields:

struct udphdr {
      __be16  source;
      __be16  dest;
      __be16  len;
      __sum16 check;
};

where:

  • source is the source port;
  • dest is the destination port.

An example of accessing the information present in the headers of a network packet is as follows:

struct sk_buff *skb;

struct iphdr *iph = ip_hdr(skb);                 /* IP header */
/* iph->saddr  - source IP address */
/* iph->daddr  - destination IP address */
if (iph->protocol == IPPROTO_TCP) {              /* TCP protocol */
        struct tcphdr *tcph = tcp_hdr(skb);      /* TCP header */
        /* tcph->source  - source TCP port */
        /* tcph->dest    - destination TCP port */
} else if (iph->protocol == IPPROTO_UDP) {       /* UDP protocol */
        struct udphdr *udph = udp_hdr(skb);      /* UDP header */
        /* udph->source  - source UDP port */
        /* udph->dest    - destination UDP port */
}

Conversions

In different systems, there are several ways of ordering bytes in a word (Endianness), including: Big Endian (the most significant byte first) and Little Endian (the least significant byte first). Since a network interconnects systems with different platforms, the Internet has imposed a standard sequence for the storage of numerical data, called network byte-order. In contrast, the byte sequence for the representation of numerical data on the host computer is called host byte-order. Data received/sent from/to the network is in the network byte-order format and should be converted between this format and the host byte-order.

For converting we use the following macros:

  • u16 htons(u16 x) converts a 16 bit integer from host byte-order to network byte-order (host to network short);
  • u32 htonl(u32 x) converts a 32 bit integer from host byte-order to network byte-order (host to network long);
  • u16 ntohs(u16 x) converts a 16 bit integer from network byte-order to host byte-order (network to host short);
  • u32 ntohl(u32 x) converts a 32 bit integer from network byte-order to host byte-order (network to host long).

netfilter

Netfilter is the name of the kernel interface for capturing network packets for modifying/analyzing them (for filtering, NAT, etc.). The netfilter interface is used in user space by iptables.

In the Linux kernel, packet capture using netfilter is done by attaching hooks. Hooks can be specified in different locations in the path followed by a kernel network packet, as needed. An organization chart with the route followed by a package and the possible areas for a hook can be found here.

The header included when using netfilter is linux/netfilter.h.

A hook is defined through the struct nf_hook_ops structure:

struct nf_hook_ops {
      /* User fills in from here down. */
      nf_hookfn               *hook;
      struct net_device       *dev;
      void                    *priv;
      u_int8_t                pf;
      unsigned int            hooknum;
      /* Hooks are ordered in ascending priority. */
      int                     priority;
};

where:

  • pf is the package type (PF_INET, etc.);
  • priority is the priority; priorities are defined in
    uapi/linux/netfilter_ipv4.h as follows:
enum nf_ip_hook_priorities {
      NF_IP_PRI_FIRST = INT_MIN,
      NF_IP_PRI_CONNTRACK_DEFRAG = -400,
      NF_IP_PRI_RAW = -300,
      NF_IP_PRI_SELINUX_FIRST = -225,
      NF_IP_PRI_CONNTRACK = -200,
      NF_IP_PRI_MANGLE = -150,
      NF_IP_PRI_NAT_DST = -100,
      NF_IP_PRI_FILTER = 0,
      NF_IP_PRI_SECURITY = 50,
      NF_IP_PRI_NAT_SRC = 100,
      NF_IP_PRI_SELINUX_LAST = 225,
      NF_IP_PRI_CONNTRACK_HELPER = 300,
      NF_IP_PRI_CONNTRACK_CONFIRM = INT_MAX,
      NF_IP_PRI_LAST = INT_MAX,
};

  • net_device is the device (network interface) on which the capture is intended;
  • hooknum is the type of hook used. When a packet is captured, the processing mode is defined by the hooknum and hook fields. For IP, hook types are defined in linux/netfilter.h:
enum nf_inet_hooks {
      NF_INET_PRE_ROUTING,
      NF_INET_LOCAL_IN,
      NF_INET_FORWARD,
      NF_INET_LOCAL_OUT,
      NF_INET_POST_ROUTING,
      NF_INET_NUMHOOKS
};

  • hook is the handler called when capturing a network packet (packet sent as a struct sk_buff structure). The private field is private information handed to the handler. The capture handler prototype is defined by the struct nf_hookfn type:
struct nf_hook_state {
      unsigned int hook;
      u_int8_t pf;
      struct net_device *in;
      struct net_device *out;
      struct sock *sk;
      struct net *net;
      int (*okfn)(struct net *, struct sock *, struct sk_buff *);
};

typedef unsigned int nf_hookfn(void *priv,
                             struct sk_buff *skb,
                             const struct nf_hook_state *state);

For the nf_hookfn() capture function, the priv field is the private information with which the struct nf_hook_ops was initialized. skb is the pointer to the captured network packet. Based on skb information, packet filtering decisions are made. The function’s state parameter is the status information related to the packet capture, including the input interface, the output interface, the priority, the hook number. Priority and hook number are useful for allowing the same function to be called by several hooks.

A capture handler can return one of the constants NF_*:

/* Responses from hook functions. */
#define NF_DROP 0
#define NF_ACCEPT 1
#define NF_STOLEN 2
#define NF_QUEUE 3
#define NF_REPEAT 4
#define NF_STOP 5
#define NF_MAX_VERDICT NF_STOP

NF_DROP is used to filter (ignore) a packet, and NF_ACCEPT is used to accept a packet and forward it.

Registering/unregistering a hook is done using the functions defined in linux/netfilter.h:

/* Function to register/unregister hook points. */
int nf_register_net_hook(struct net *net, const struct nf_hook_ops *ops);
void nf_unregister_net_hook(struct net *net, const struct nf_hook_ops *ops);
int nf_register_net_hooks(struct net *net, const struct nf_hook_ops *reg,
                        unsigned int n);
void nf_unregister_net_hooks(struct net *net, const struct nf_hook_ops *reg,
                           unsigned int n);

Attention

There are some restrictions related to the use of header extraction functions from a struct sk_buff structure set as a parameter in a netfilter hook. While the IP header can be obtained each time using ip_hdr(), the TCP and UDP headers can be obtained with tcp_hdr() and udp_hdr() only for packages that come from inside the system rather than the ones that are received from outside the system. In the latter case, you must manually calculate the header offset in the package:

// For TCP packets (iph->protocol == IPPROTO_TCP)
tcph = (struct tcphdr*)((__u32*)iph + iph->ihl);
// For UDP packets (iph->protocol == IPPROTO_UDP)
udph = (struct udphdr*)((__u32*)iph + iph->ihl);

This code works in all filtering situations, so it’s recommended to use it instead of header access functions.

A usage example for a netfilter hook is shown below:

#include <linux/netfilter.h>
#include <linux/netfilter_ipv4.h>
#include <linux/net.h>
#include <linux/in.h>
#include <linux/skbuff.h>
#include <linux/ip.h>
#include <linux/tcp.h>

static unsigned int my_nf_hookfn(void *priv,
              struct sk_buff *skb,
              const struct nf_hook_state *state)
{
      /* process packet */
      //...

      return NF_ACCEPT;
}

static struct nf_hook_ops my_nfho = {
      .hook        = my_nf_hookfn,
      .hooknum     = NF_INET_LOCAL_OUT,
      .pf          = PF_INET,
      .priority    = NF_IP_PRI_FIRST
};

int __init my_hook_init(void)
{
      return nf_register_net_hook(&init_net, &my_nfho);
}

void __exit my_hook_exit(void)
{
      nf_unregister_net_hook(&init_net, &my_nfho);
}

module_init(my_hook_init);
module_exit(my_hook_exit);

netcat

When developing applications that include networking code, one of the most used tools is netcat. Also nicknamed “Swiss-army knife for TCP / IP”. It allows:

  • Initiating TCP connections;
  • Waiting for a TCP connection;
  • Sending and receiving UDP packets;
  • Displaying traffic in hexdump format;
  • Run a program after establishing a connection (eg, a shell);
  • Set special options in sent packages.

Initiating TCP connections:

nc hostname port

Listening to a TCP port:

nc -l -p port

Sending and receiving UDP packets is done adding the -u command line option.

Note

The command is nc; often netcat is an alias for this command. There are other implementations of the netcat command, some of which have slightly different parameters than the classic implementation. Run man nc or nc -h to check how to use it.

For more information on netcat, check the following tutorial.

Exercises

Important

To solve exercises, you need to perform these steps:

  • prepare skeletons from templates
  • build modules
  • copy modules to the VM
  • start the VM and test the module in the VM.

The current lab name is networking. See the exercises for the task name.

See details

The skeleton code is generated from full source examples located in tools/labs/templates. To solve the tasks, start by generating the skeleton code:

tools/labs $ make clean
tools/labs $ LABS=<lab name>/<task name> make skels

where task name is defined for each task. Once the skeleton drivers are generated, build the source:

tools/labs $ make build

Then, copy the modules and start the VM:

tools/labs $ make copy
tools/labs $ make boot

The modules are placed in /home/root/skels/networking/<task_name>.

Alternatively, we can copy files via scp, in order to avoid restarting the VM. For additional details about connecting to the VM via the network, please check Connecting to the VM.

Review the Exercises section for more detailed information.

Important

You need to make sure that the netfilter support is active in kernel. It is enabled via CONFIG_NETFILTER. To activate it, run make menuconfig in the linux directory and check the Network packet filtering framework (Netfilter) option in Networking support -> Networking options. If it was not enabled, enable it (as builtin, not external module - it must be marked with *).

1. Displaying packets in kernel space

Write a kernel module that displays the source address and port for TCP packets that initiate an outbound connection. Start from the code in 1-2-netfilter and fill in the areas marked with TODO 1, taking into account the comments below.

You will need to register a netfilter hook of type NF_INET_LOCAL_OUT as explained in the netfilter section.

The struct sk_buff structure lets you access the packet headers using specific functions. The ip_hdr() function returns the IP header as a pointer to a struct iphdr structure. The tcp_hdr() function returns the TCP header as a pointer to a struct tcphdr structure.

The diagram explains how to make a TCP connection. The connection initiation packet has the SYN flag set in the TCP header and the ACK flag cleared.

Note

To display the source IP address, use the %pI4 format of the printk function. Details can be found in the kernel documentation (IPv4 addresses section). The following is an example code snippet that uses %pI4:

printk("IP address is %pI4\n", &iph->saddr);

When using the %pI4 format, the argument to printk is a pointer. Hence the construction &iph->saddr (with operator & - ampersand) instead of iph->saddr.

The source TCP port is, in the TCP header, in the network byte-order format. Read through the Conversions section. Use ntohs() to convert.

For testing, use the 1-2-netfilter/user/test-1.sh file. The test creates a connection to the localhost, a connection that will be intercepted and displayed by the kernel module. The script is copied on the virtual machine by the make copy command only if it is marked as executable. The script uses the statically compiled netcat tool stored in skels/networking/netcat; this program must have execution permissions.

After running the checker the output should be similar to the one bellow:

# ./test-1.sh
[  229.783512] TCP connection initiated from 127.0.0.1:44716
Should show up in filter.
Check dmesg output.

2. Filtering by destination address

Extend the module from exercise 1 so that you can specify a destination address by means of a MY_IOCTL_FILTER_ADDRESS ioctl call. You’ll only show packages containing the specified destination address. To solve this task, fill in the areas marked with TODO 2 and follow the specifications below.

To implement the ioctl routine, you must fill out the my_ioctl function. Review the section in ioctl. The address sent from user space is in network byte-order, so there will be NO need for conversion.

Note

The IP address sent via ioctl is sent by address, not by value. The address must be stored in the ioctl_set_addr variable. For copying use copy_from_user().

To compare the addresses, fill out the test_daddr function. Addresses in network byte-order will be used without having to convert addresses (if they are equal from left to right they will be equal if reversed too).

The test_daddr function must be called from the netfilter hook to display the connection initialization packets for which the destination address is the one sent through the ioctl routine. The connection initiation packet has the SYN flag set in the TCP header and the ACK flag cleared. You have to check two things:

  • the TCP flags;
  • the destination address of the packet (using test_addr).

For testing, use the 1-2-netfilter/user/test-2.sh script. This script needs to compile the 1-2-netfilter/user/test.c file in the test executable. Compilation is done automatically on the physical system when running the make build command. The test script is copied to the virtual machine only if it is marked as executable. The script uses the statically compiled netcat tool in skels/networking/netcat; this executable must have execution permissions.

After running the checker the output should be similar to the one bellow:

# ./test-2.sh
[  797.673535] TCP connection initiated from 127.0.0.1:44721
Should show up in filter.
Should NOT show up in filter.
Check dmesg output.

The test ask for packet filtering first for the 127.0.0.1 IP address and then for the 127.0.0.2 IP address. The first connection initiation packet (to 127.0.0.1) is intercepted and displayed by the filter, while the second (to 127.0.0.2) is not intercepted.

3. Listening on a TCP socket

Write a kernel module that creates a TCP socket that listens to connections on port 60000 on the loopback interface (in init_module). Start from the code in 3-4-tcp-sock fill in the areas marked with TODO 1 taking into account the observations below.

Read the Operations on the socket structure and The struct proto_ops structure sections.

The sock socket is a server socket and must be put in the listening state. That is, the bind and listen operations must be applied to the socket. For the bind and listen equivalent, in kernel space you will need to call sock->ops->...; examples of such functions you can call are sock->ops->bind, sock->ops->listen etc.

Note

For example, call sock->ops->bind, or sock->ops->listen functions, see how they are called in the sys_bind() and sys_listen() system call handlers.

Look for the system call handlers in the net/socket.c file in the Linux kernel source code tree.

Note

For the second argument of the listen (backlog) call, use the LISTEN_BACKLOG.

Remember to release the socket in the module’s exit function and in the area marked with error labels; use sock_release().

For testing, run the 3-4-tcp_sock/test-3.sh script. The script is copied on the virtual machine by make copy only if it is marked as executable.

After running the test, a TCP socket will be displayed by listening to connections on port 60000.

4. Accepting connections in kernel space

Expand the module from the previous exercise to allow an external connection (no need to send any message, only accept new connections). Fill in the areas marked with TODO 2.

Read the Operations on the socket structure and The struct proto_ops structure sections.

For the kernel space accept equivalent, see the system call handler for sys_accept4(). Follow the lnet_sock_accept() implementation, and how the sock->ops->accept call is used. Use 0 as the value for the second to last argument (flags), and true for the last argument (kern).

Note

Look for the system call handlers in the net/socket.c file in the Linux kernel source code tree.

Note

The new socket (new_sock) must be created with the sock_create_lite() function and then its operations must be configured using

newsock->ops = sock->ops;

Print the address and port of the destination socket. To find the peer name of a socket (its address), refer to the sys_getpeername() system call handler.

Note

The first argument for the sock->ops->getname function will be the connection socket, ie new_sock, the one initialized with by the accept call.

The last argument of the sock->ops->getname function will be 1, meaning that we want to know about the endpoint or the peer (remote end or peer).

Display the peer address (indicated by the raddr variable) using the print_sock_address macro defined in the file.

Release the newly created socket (after accepting the connection) in the module exit function and after the error label. After adding the accept code to the module initialization function, the insmod operation will lock until a connection is established. You can unlock using netcat on that port. Consequently, the test script from the previous exercise will not work.

For testing, run the 3-4-tcp_sock/test-4.sh script. The script is copied on the virtual machine by make copy only if it is marked as executable.

Nothing special will be displayed (in the kernel buffer). The success of the test will be defined by the connection establishment. Then use Ctrl+c to stop the test script, and then you can remove the kernel module.

5. UDP socket sender

Write a kernel module that creates a UDP socket and sends the message from the MY_TEST_MESSAGE macro on the socket to the loopback address on port 60001.

Start from the code in 5-udp-sock.

Read the Operations on the socket structure and The struct proto_ops structure sections.

To see how to send messages in the kernel space, see the sys_send() system call handler or Sending/receiving messages.

Hint

The msg_name field of the struct msghdr structure must be initialized to the destination address (pointer to struct sockaddr) and the msg_namelen field to the address size.

Initialize the msg_flags field of the struct msghdr structure to 0.

Initialize the msg_control and msg_controllen fields of the struct msghdr structure to NULL and 0 respectively.

For sending the message use kernel_sendmsg().

The message transmission parameters are retrieved from the kernel space. Cast the struct iovec structure pointer to a struct kvec pointer in the kernel_sendmsg() call.

Hint

The last two parameters of kernel_sendmsg() are 1 (number of I/O vectors) and len (message size).

For testing, use the test-5.sh file. The script is copied on the virtual machine by the make copy command only if it is marked as executable. The script uses the statically compiled netcat tool stored in skels/networking/netcat; this executable must have execution permissions.

For a correct implementation, running the test-5.sh script will cause the kernelsocket message to be displayed like in the output below:

/root # ./test-5.sh
+ pid=1059
+ sleep 1
+ nc -l -u -p 60001
+ insmod udp_sock.ko
kernelsocket
+ rmmod udp_sock
+ kill 1059