[ntp:hackers] Re: Config file format

David L. Mills mills at udel.edu
Mon Feb 21 10:44:29 PST 2005

Brian & Co.,

Can we do this in stages? I really and truly do want the configuration 
mess to be cleaned up so valuable features like Manycast server 
discovery can be implemented. I see real problems with the configuration 
interface to the various modules in the system, asynchronous DNS and so 
forth. Security is really simple. No remote configuration for now. No 
HTTP for now. Can we get this ship moving?


Brian Utterback wrote:

> Mark Martinec wrote:
>>> Please show me how *allowing* a URL to specify how the conf file gets
>>> loaded is a hole.
>>> All I'm saying is that I have seen many places where this capability 
>>> would
>>> be a major win.  I'm not telling people to use it, and I'm not going to
>>> force anybody to use it.
>> on a plus side: it can add flexibility for some installations;
>> on a minus side: it adds complexity. Some may remember that a
>>  popular command-line http/ftp client 'wget' is being plagued
>>  with security holes, being discovered one after another.
>>  Add SSL, and it all gets even worse.
>> If one is prepared to sacrifice a potential ability to HUP a daemon
>> and make it reload a config file, then perhaps a simple:
>>  ntpd -c -
>> (to read config from stdin) could offer as much flexibility
>> as one is prepared to put into his startup script.
>> P.S. most of us recipients are on the hackers list,
>>     please avoid sending duplicates
>> Mark
> Security is just the implementation of a policy. No two people will 
> agree on what the security requirements
> are. Ideally, we want to provide an administrative system that has a 
> near to zero admin cost while providing
> as much  security than anybody would reasonably want. If we cannot do 
> that, then we need to provide a
> system flexible enough to accommodate whatever level of security is 
> required by the particular needs of the
> policy makers at a site. For some, zero admin far outclasses the 
> security requirement. For others, bad security
> is a show stopper. NFS mounting the config files is probably not 
> enough security for many. Although NFS
> can be configured to use the same level of security as the NTP 
> authentication does, how many of us have
> really done this in practice? Dave, does your /usr/loca/etc/ mount 
> really have crypto auth configured? If
> so, then I applaud you. Will the next guy, though?
> I think that the proposal is a good compromise. I don't think all 
> protocols are appropriate for all places
> though. What I suggest is the creation of a modular API for the 
> configuration file, and a switch to call the
> configured modules. So, by default, only "-", "/absolute/path" and 
> "file:///absolute/path" are compiled in, with
> easily used hooks to add whatever protocols people want, such as 
> "http:", "https:", "ldap:", etc. Then people can
> easily add new ones as required (for instance, Sun will be converting 
> all daemons to use the new SMF facility
> for configuration.) and once donated to the project, they can be 
> enabled or not via --with options.
> Brian Utterback
> brian.utterback at sun.com

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