Mauritian Codes around the World

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Devices are everywhere; from around our wrists to inside our pockets to huge server farms. Those Engineering excellency are roughly metal structures with electronics components and one of the intangible marvel of the human mind inside them – The Software; those piece of code that make sense to everything. People either take writing those codes as their job or their hobby; but when the two are mixed, great stuffs happen!

Usually, important softwares and application are written by several programmers from one specific company or from developers around the globe contributing on the same project. One of the latter is Logananden Velvindron, a Mauritian coder. (about whom I wrote some time back). He helped to fix bugs on critical systems or wrote improvements to existing softwares. The great news is that, some times his improvements are deployed on production servers and systems from famous companies like Google! The latest in date is from CISCO which implemented an updated version of ntp which happens to contain Logan’s code. On that occasion, I paid Logan the usual virtual visit and got a little word from him. :)

How are you doing? 😀

I’m doing very well, thank you !

So anything great to relate to us this time? Any exciting project?

In the security area, there’s always something exciting. In OpenBSD, we are actively working on LibreSSL, and we have hardened the memory allocators in Unbound and NSD, 2 popular DNS products right behind ISC BIND. There is a huge amount of goodies in OpenBSD 5.7. I tend to think that OpenBSD consumers are very lucky due to the quality of our releases !

I would like to point out that Operating Systems like Linux benefit from our work on NSD, Unbound, LibreSSL, and most importantly OpenSSH. I hope that support companies consider donating to OpenBSD‘s foundation to support us.

URL of OpenBSD 5.7 release: http://marc.info/?l=openbsd-misc&m=143043178115828&w=2

Well, it’s no longer a secret now that your codes are everywhere!! From people’s pocket (Android phones), to laptops and servers (Distros). How do you feel about this; being somehow in people’s pockets as they walk around? What are the known platforms that your codes are running on?

Personally, It’s a great achievement :) I always wanted to write software that would power servers, smartphones and Internet of Things. I thank the world-wide group of Free and Open Source developers who were patient enough to review and vet my code. I also thank my parents who have been very patient to put us with the mess I made of our house :-) [Logan runs a mini-server room in his own house – ia]. My friends like Mr Ajay Ramjatan (Tuxlab) and Benoit Gentil (Fody Technologies) who sponsored my servers deserve credit as well. Around the time I was in High school, a bunch of amazing people from the Linux User Group of Mauritius, gave me lots of CDs to experiment with Linux and BSD at home. There are a lot of people that encouraged me, I hope that I haven’t missed them :)

It’s always interesting to see people walking around with the latest smartphones they bought, and knowing that deep inside the circuitry, a piece of my code is quietly running 😉 What’s also interesting is to see how Linux and BSD are being used in almost every product. I fixed a bug in iptables [iptables is a tool to configure firewall on linux. ia] on a server, and it was incorporated in smartphones. This convergence is an interesting phenomenon. Basically, the same firewalling software that’s been used for years on Linux servers, is now being used in smartphones. That’s quite intriguing :)

As for the known platforms: Linux, BSD, Android, Ubuntu, CentOS, OpenSuSe, McAfee, Google NEST, and even CISCO products. There are probably others, but they do not put it on their websites. The process of Open Source compliance takes time, but eventually the vendors get around it.

And we heard about CISCO using your Sandboxing code! Any word on this? How did you come to know it? And what was the feeling?

[NTP is a protocol for synchronising time on a network]

It appears that CISCO pulled the latest NTP source code, which contains the sandbox improvement. Honestly, I was quite surprised by this. I didn’t expect vendors to start shipping the new version of the code so quickly. I think that it’s a good engineering practice to always import the latest upstream code when building a new product !

I was looking on Google for the NTP repository, and it showed up as a URL to a CISCO page for one of their products.

I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the link :)

What’s that Sandboxing code about? Can we have a little insight about same?

It restricts the NTP server to a small set of white-listed system calls. It’s not possible to do an execve(), so even if there’s a buffer overflow, it’s hard to build an exploit to perform remote code execution, as your attack surface is limited. So it makes it harder for crackers to crack into NTP servers.

Any future projects?

Working with different groups to have better bandwidth in Mauritius at an affordable price, and keep re-engineering infrastructure code so that we can further improve the security of servers, smartphones, IoT, and the internet in general.

I also like to have other activities outside Computers: fishing, going out with friends, and recently, I got involved in the cosplay community. I was invited by a friend of mine. I was amazed at what kind of creativity young people can come up with :)

As a final word, you are now part of the ICT Advisory Council (Mauritius). What’s the purpose of that Council and what’s your role in it?

Advising the Ministry on ICT matters. It is a very broad mandate. A lot of people send me mails everywhere so that their opinions can be heard at the Government level. I do my best to bring those issues to the attention of the council.

Thank You Logan :)

You’re welcome :)

About irshaad

Irshaad is from Mauritius and a student in Information Systems Engineering in Turkey. Social, geeky, tech-lover and everything that's linked to technology; he's in it. Not exactly 'Jack of all trades' but he likes to try and test each and everything he comes across. His personal page: irshaad.me

  • alCosecant Maths

    A Mauritian even owns the key to the internet!

    • Yes; Mr. Soobramanian Moonesamy (one of our fellow friends in the Mauritius Internet User group); He is one of the crypto-officers.