Friday, April 24, 2015

Achievement unlocked: lack of any social or romantic activity PAYS OFF

*with two tests suppressed due to big endian

[4484|   0|   0|   0] 100% ==========================================>|1511.7s

Yaaaaaay! It's time to get jiggy with it! First, I'll scrub the changesets to remove PPCBC/JM entirely (except for the PowerPC-specific parallel type guards in Baseline inline caches, which are an important optimization); the only other vestiges that shall remain are a couple code snippets from Ben's original work in the new MacroAssembler and the G3/G4 software square root routine from David, which may be replaced with a call to the C library; I'm going to do some profiling there first. (G5 still uses its hardware square root instruction.) After that we'll sprinkle back in gcc 4.6 compatibility, the last branch we will support with this compiler, mix with IonPower, and then try to get the browser up. If I can get the minimp3 seek routine working, MP3 support will be exposed publicly too. We will also unveil our own bespoke browser front page to avoid issues with Electrolysis, which we don't support currently.

In addition, I have some lofty but possible performance goals for IonPower. For these goals, I've selected V8 as the metric because it's a medium-weight benchmark; SunSpider is probably not representative anymore of the bloatier code many sites (especially ad networks, bleah) now foist upon their users, and it is unlikely many Power Macs are braving the really heavy processing JavaScript apps for time reasons (or support reasons: games using WebGL, for example, won't run on TenFourFox anyway) which makes Kraken and Octane less representative as well. The aim is to get the optimized IonPower faster than PPCBC on V8 in Baseline-only mode, and faster than our old JaegerMonkey backend on V8 in full Baseline/Ion mode, which it now supports. The first is definitely achievable, and the second should come awfully close. That should translate into demonstrable real-world improvements on the vast majority of sites vintage Macs still frequent and will also make pdf.js finally viable on TenFourFox.

I treat every ESR release like it's our last, but by the time 38ESR ends, that will mean Power Macs will have had a fully supported branch of Firefox for 10 years after the last Power Mac rolled out of Cupertino. Now, that's support!

ETA for the first beta is 3-4 weeks, with rollout around 38.0.2 to coincide with the end of support for 31ESR. Localizers, stand by!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

IonPower progress report

Remember: comparing the G5 optimized PPCBC Baseline-only compiler against the unoptimized test version of IonPower on V8!

% /Applications/ --no-ion -f run.js
Richards: 203
DeltaBlue: 582
Crypto: 358
RayTrace: 584
EarleyBoyer: 595
RegExp: 616
Splay: 969
NavierStokes: 432
Score (version 7): 498

% ../../../../mozilla-36t/obj-ff-dbg/dist/bin/js -f run.js
Richards: 337
DeltaBlue: 948
Crypto: 1083
RayTrace: 913
EarleyBoyer: 350
RegExp: 259
Splay: 584
NavierStokes: 3262
Score (version 7): 695

I've got one failing test case left to go (the other is not expected to pass because it assumes a little-endian memory alignment)! We're almost to the TenFourFox 38 port!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

systemsetupusthebomb revisited: Vulnerable after all

UPDATE: Edited the below to clarify Takashi's baseline solution.

Previously, previously. tl;dr: Apple uses a setuid binary called writeconfig to alter certain system settings which on at least 10.7+ could be used to write arbitrary files as setuid root, allowing almost instantaneous privilege escalation -- i.e., your computer is now pwned. This was fixed in Yosemite 10.10.3, but not any previous version. Originally I had not been able to exploit my 10.4 systems in the same fashion, so despite the binary being there, I concluded the actual vulnerability did not exist.

Well, Takashi Yoshi has succeeded where I failed (I'm still pretty confident on Darwin Nuke, though), and I have confirmed it on my systems using his RootPipe Tester tool. Please note, before you run, that this tool specifically exploits the vulnerability to write a setuid root file to disk, which if he weren't a nice guy means he now owns your system. Takashi is clearly a good guy but with any such tool you may wish to get in the habit of building from source you've closely examined, which he provides. The systemsetupusthebomb vulnerability is indeed successful on all versions of OS X going back to at least 10.2.8.

Takashi's page also gives a simple workaround: in System Preferences, under Security, check "Require password to unlock each secure system preference" (and make sure the lock at the lower left is locked). Now any known use of the vulnerable tool will either fail or at least prompt you for a password. With this fix in place, the RootPipe Tester cannot function on my 10.4 systems.

If you're more paranoid, however, you can almost completely avoid the risk of an alternative future attack at the price of some system functionality. At its lowest level, the workaround for this vulnerability is straightforward in concept -- disable writeconfig or neuter it -- but has side effects, because if you monkey with writeconfig the system will lose the capability to control certain configuration profiles (in 10.4, this generally affects the Sharing pane in System Preferences; 10.5+, which specifically exposes systemsetup, may be affected in other ways) and may also affect remote administration capabilities. Takashi and I exchanged E-mails on two specific solutions. Both of these possible solutions will alter system functionality, in a hopefully reversible fashion, but a blown command may interfere with administering your computer. Read carefully.

One solution is to rename (or remove, but this is obviously more drastic) writeconfig to something else. Admittedly this works a bit too well. RootPipe Tester actually crashed, which may be useful to completely stop a malicious app in its tracks, but it also made System Preferences unstable and will likely do the same to any app expecting to use Admin.framework. Although 10.4 seemed to handle this a bit better, it too locked up the Sharing pane after banging on it a bit. However, you can be guaranteed nothing will happen in this configuration because it's not possible for it to occur -- apps looking for the victim ToolLiaison class won't be able to find it. Since I'm rarely in that panel, this is the approach I've personally selected for my own systems, but I'm also fully comfortable with the limitations. You can control this with two commands in Terminal on 10.4-10.6 (make sure you fixed the issue with sudo first!):

go to a safe state: cd /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Admin.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ ; sudo mv writeconfig noconfig
go to original state: cd /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Admin.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ ; sudo mv noconfig writeconfig

For added security, make noconfig a custom filename only you know so an attacker won't be easily able to find it in an alternate location ... or, if you're nucking futs, archive or delete it entirely. (Not recommended except for the fascistic maniac.)

Takashi found the second approach to be gentler, but is slightly less secure: strip the setuid bits off. In this mode, the vulnerability can still be exploited to write arbitrary files, but as it lacks the setuid permission it cannot run as root and the file is only written as the current user (so no privilege escalation, just an unexpected file write). Applications that use Admin.framework simply won't work as expected; they shouldn't crash. For example, System Preferences will just "look at you" in the Sharing panel when you try to change or start a new system service -- nothing will happen. For many users, this will be the better option. Here are the Terminal commands for 10.4-10.6:

go to a safe state: cd /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Admin.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ ; sudo chmod u-s writeconfig
go to original state: cd /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Admin.framework/Versions/A/Resources/ ; sudo chmod u+s writeconfig

Choose one of these options. Most of the time, you should leave your system in the safe state. If you need to change Sharing or certain other settings with systemsetup or System Preferences, return to the original state, make the change, and return to the safe state.

Of course, one other option is to simply do nothing. This might be a surprising choice, but Takashi does make the well-taken point that this attack can only be perpetrated upon an administrative user where root is just your password away anyhow, and no implementation of this attack other than his runs on PowerPC. This isn't good enough for me personally, but his argument is reasonable, and if you have to do a lot of configuration changes on your system I certainly understand how inconvenient these approaches could be. (Perhaps someone will figure out a patch for System Preferences that does it for you. I'll leave that exercise to the reader.) As in many such situations, you alone will have to decide how much you're willing to put up with, but it's good to see other people are also working to keep our older Macs better protected on OS X.

Ob10.4Fx IonPower status report: 75% of V8 passing, interrupted briefly tonight to watch the new Star Wars trailer. I have cautious, cautious hope it won't suck, but J. J. Abrams, if you disappoint me, it will be for the last time (to paraphrase).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Darwin Nuke the Refrigerator, Wet Sprocket, etc.

Two more security notes.

First, as a followup, a couple of you pointed out that there is a writeconfig on 10.4 through 10.6 (and actually earlier) in /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Admin.framework/Versions/A/Resources. Yes, there is, and it's even setuid root (I wish Apple wouldn't do that). However, it is not exploitable, at least not by systemsetupusthebomb or a similar notion, because it appears to lack the functionality required for that sort of attack. I should have mentioned this in my prior posting.

Second, Darwin Nuke is now making the rounds, similar to the old WinNuke which plagued early versions of Windows until it was corrected in the Windows 95 days in that you can send a specially crafted packet to an OS X machine and kernel panic it. It's not as easy as WinNuke was, though -- that was as simple as opening a TCP connection to port 139 on the victim machine and sending it nonsense data with the Urgent Pointer flag set in the TCP header. Anyone could do that with a modified Telnet client, for example, and there were many fire-and-forget tools that were even easier. Unless you specifically blocked such connections on ingress, and many home users and quite a few business networks didn't at the time, WinNuke was a great means to ruin someone's day. (I may or may not have done this from my Power Mac 7300 a couple times to kick annoying people off IRC. Maybe.)

Darwin Nuke, on the other hand, requires you to send a specially crafted invalid ICMP packet. This is somewhat harder to trigger remotely as many firewalls and routers will drop this sort of malformed network traffic, so it's more of a threat on an unprotected LAN. Nevertheless, an attacker with a raw socket interface can engineer and transmit such packets, and the technical knowledge required is relatively commonplace.

That said, even on my test network I'm having great difficulty triggering this against the Power Macs; I have not yet been able to do so. It is also not clear if the built-in firewall protects against this attack, though the level at which the attack exists suggests to me it does not. However, the faulty code is indeed in the 10.4 kernel source, so if it's there and in 10.10, it is undoubtedly in 10.5 and 10.6 as well. For that reason, I must conclude that Power Macs are vulnerable. If your hardware (or non-OS X) firewall or router supports it, blocking incoming ICMP will protect you from the very small risk of being hit at the cost of preventing pings and traceroutes into your network (but this is probably what you want anyway).

Even if you do get nailed, the good news (sort of) is that your computer can't be hacked by this method that anyone is aware of; it's a Denial of Service attack, you'll lose your work, you may need to repair the filesystem if it does so at a bad time and that sucks, but it doesn't compromise the machine otherwise. And, because this is in open source kernel code, it should be possible to design a fix and build a new kernel if the problem turns out to be easier to exploit than it appears currently. (Please note I'm not volunteering, at least, not yet.)

So, you can all get out of your fridges now, mmkay?

10.4Fx 38 and IonPower update: 50% of V8 passes and I'm about 20% into the test suite. Right now wrestling with a strange bug with return values in nested calls, but while IonPower progress is slow, it's progress!

Thursday, April 9, 2015


This article has been superseded: Power Macs are vulnerable after all.

Oh, Apple. Ohhh, Apple. Today's rookie mistake is a system process called writeconfig that, through a case of the infamous confused deputy problem (it exists to allow certain operations by System Preferences and its command line equivalent systemsetup to be performed by admin users that are not root), can be coerced to allow any user to create arbitrary files with arbitrary permissions -- including setuid -- as root. That's, to use the technical term, bad.

This problem exists in 10.10, and is fixed in 10.10.3, but Apple will not fix it for 10.9 (or 10.8, or 10.7; the reporters confirmed it as far back as 10.7.2), citing technical limitations. Thanks, Apple!

The key is a privileged process called writeconfig which can be tricked into writing files anywhere using a cross-process attack. You would ask, reasonably, why such a process would exist in the first place, and the apparent reason is to allow these later versions of systemsetup et al to create user-specific Apache webserver configurations for guest users. If systemsetup doesn't have this functionality in your version of Mac OS X, then this specific vulnerability, at least, does not exist.

Fortunately, 10.6 and earlier do not support this feature; for that matter, there's no ToolLiaison or WriteConfigClient Objective-C class to exploit either. In fact, systemsetup isn't even in /usr/sbin in non-Server versions of OS X prior to 10.5: it's actually in /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/, as a component of Apple Remote Desktop. I confirmed all this on my local 10.4 and 10.6 systems and was not able to replicate the issue with the given proof of concept or any reasonable variation thereof, so I am relieved to conclude that Power Macs and Snow Leopard do not appear to be vulnerable to this exploit. All your PowerPC-base systems are still belong to you.

Meanwhile, on the TenFourFox 38 front, IonPower is almost passing the first part of V8. Once I get Richards, DeltaBlue and Crypto working the rest of it should bust wide open. Speed numbers are right in line with what I'd expect based on comparison tests on my 2014 i7 MacBook Air. It's gonna be nice.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Beware the undead Snow Leopard

Interesting post on

We recently ran numbers on our user base (like about 3 weeks ago), and found that 10.10, 10.9 and 10.6 all had greater than 10% share of our Mac user base. 10.6 was still close to 19%.

Gonna be some unhappy people when the hammer comes down, and in fairness to Mozilla, the hammer's going to be Apple screwing around with Xcode to prevent 10.6 compatibility. But when that's the last OS that ran legacy PowerPC applications, ran on any Intel Mac and wasn't infected with the iOS herpes, can you blame people for sticking with what works? These numbers are still roughly comparable with 10.6 usage over a year ago.

Which reminds me that I'm reacquiring numbers for our state of the user base. Watch for that soon™.