I am an enthusiastic tinkerer, focused on systems programming and integration. Generally everything I do is open source (but not copyleft), available on Github. You can read more about me here.

Current Projects

Following the initial release of Bluedragon, I tried out Gentoo and decided to move all of my Arch systems over to it. Right now I am involved in the Gentoo Musl project, which I am using to rebuild my home lab. Once I get that going, I will post my portage tree to Github and try to upstream the compatibility fixes (I have 10 patches for software I've installed already).

On the programming front, I've been writing a few website scrapers for expanding my collection of articles and wallpapers

other projects

Recent Thoughts

2015-12-27: SELinux, or Why DriveDroid is Broken on CyanogenMod 13

Ever since it was first released in August, I had been using Copperhead OS on my Nexus 5. It's a custom Android distribution that integrates PAX and libc hardening. The intention of the developers from the start was to upstream as much of their work as possible and rebase on top of AOSP. Until about a week ago, however, it was based on CyanogenMod 12.1. This was great. I got a generally open-source-friendly firmware with the only free-software superuser implementation, with a bunch of extra security features added.

Then Android 6.0 "Marshmallow" made its debut earlier this fall, introducing several minor features, such as breaking push IMAP synchronization. Apparently it also included enough of the Copperhead work that they decided to go ahead and switch over earlier this month. Unfortunately, this made Copperhead no longer fit my use case. I use root for about three things on my phone: AdAway, a terminal, and DriveDroid. For the first two, I can generally get by with ADB in recovery mode. The third requires an actual app. Yes, all it does is run a couple of commands and write to a file in sysfs, but on a touchscreen, with a touchscreen keyboard, that needs a user interface.

The problem with the new AOSP Copperhead is that it has no superuser access. I could install SuperSU, but as I alluded to earlier, it is important for me to have the program that manages access to, well, everything be free software. SuperSU is not. That means going back to CyanogenMod. Now, CYNGN is not my favorite company, but CyanogenMod is generally the most stable and least "script-kiddie" of the rooted custom firmwares.

Thankfully, CyanogenMod 13.0 had just been released when Copperhead broke. This version was based on Marshmallow, so it presumably included all of the userspace hardening that Copperhead got into AOSP. Since I had needed to put PAX into soft mode for DriveDroid to work on Copperhead anyway, I figured I was not losing much security by switching. Why not just stay on the latest CyanogenMod-based Copperhead version? Because, again, security. Not staying up to date is not really an option.

So I upgraded. Everything appeared to work fine, until I went through the DriveDroid USB setup wizard. For some reason, I couldn't read the partition table from the emulated drive:

Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: scsi 9:0:0:0: Direct-Access     Linux    File-CD Gadget   0000 PQ: 0 ANSI: 2
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: Attached scsi generic sg4 type 0
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] 8192 512-byte logical blocks: (4.19 MB/4.00 MiB)
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] Write Protect is off
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] Mode Sense: 0f 00 00 00
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] Write cache: enabled, read cache: enabled, doesn't support DPO or FUA
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] tag#0 UNKNOWN(0x2003) Result: hostbyte=0x00 driverbyte=0x08
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] tag#0 Sense Key : 0x3 [current]
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] tag#0 ASC=0x11 ASCQ=0x0
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] tag#0 CDB: opcode=0x28 28 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 08 00
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: blk_update_request: critical medium error, dev sdd, sector 0
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: Buffer I/O error on dev sdd, logical block 0, async page read
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] tag#0 UNKNOWN(0x2003) Result: hostbyte=0x00 driverbyte=0x08
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] tag#0 Sense Key : 0x3 [current]
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] tag#0 ASC=0x11 ASCQ=0x0
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] tag#0 CDB: opcode=0x28 28 00 00 00 00 00 00 00 08 00
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: blk_update_request: critical medium error, dev sdd, sector 0
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: Buffer I/O error on dev sdd, logical block 0, async page read
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel:  sdd: unable to read partition table
Dec 20 20:31:19 sodium kernel: sd 9:0:0:0: [sdd] Attached SCSI removable disk
I attributed it to something about the image file in use, and carried on. But when I copied over a UEFI update ISO for my laptop and it also was unreadable, I realized the problem was the interaction of DriveDroid and something in CyanogenMod 13. To the dmesg!
[  247.848373] type=1400 audit(1450744742.272:6): avc: denied { use } for pid=91 comm="file-storage" path="/storage/emulated/0/Download/ISO/gjuj23us.iso" dev="fuse" ino=167 scontext=u:r:kernel:s0 tcontext=u:r:sudaemon:s0 tclass=fd permissive=0
[  247.870718] type=1400 audit(1450744742.282:7): avc: denied { use } for pid=91 comm="file-storage" path="/storage/emulated/0/Download/ISO/gjuj23us.iso" dev="fuse" ino=167 scontext=u:r:kernel:s0 tcontext=u:r:sudaemon:s0 tclass=fd permissive=0
[  247.871447] type=1400 audit(1450744742.292:8): avc: denied { use } for pid=91 comm="file-storage" path="/storage/emulated/0/Download/ISO/gjuj23us.iso" dev="fuse" ino=167 scontext=u:r:kernel:s0 tcontext=u:r:sudaemon:s0 tclass=fd permissive=0
[  247.881682] type=1400 audit(1450744742.302:9): avc: denied { use } for pid=91 comm="file-storage" path="/storage/emulated/0/Download/ISO/gjuj23us.iso" dev="fuse" ino=167 scontext=u:r:kernel:s0 tcontext=u:r:sudaemon:s0 tclass=fd permissive=0
That'll do it. So SELinux is blocking the kernel from accessing the file. I opened a root shell in ADB, ran setenforce 0, and sure enough: I could boot off the ISO.

Now that I know the general problem, how can I fix it? I could leave my device in permissive mode, but that would be poor for overall security. What I need to do is create a policy that allows this specific action, and graft it into the existing policy. The common solution is to use a tool that comes with SuperSU, supolicy, but since I am using CyanogenMod, I don't have it. And since it is closed-source, I am not interested in installing it. (Plus, it adds a bunch of other policies when run, and is not compatible with the policies used to implement CyanogenMod's superuser support.)

After some searching, I found the free "alternative supolicy," sepolicy-inject. (See also here.) Unfortunately, it does not work with Android 6.0. It dies trying to read the /sepolicy I pulled from my phone:

libsepol.policydb_read: policydb version 30 does not match my version range 15-29
Apparently, Android uses a newer SELinux policy version than available in any released version of libsepol. So you have to get this version with prebuilt libraries. It works, on the desktop, but using the prebuilts makes it hard to cross-compile for native use. In any case, I added the appropriate policy rules:
$ ./sepolicy-inject -s kernel -t sudaemon -c fd -p use -P ./sepolicy -o ./fixed
Then I pushed the file on to my phone and and loaded the policy from a shell.
# load_policy ./fixed

Hooray! It works! Now I just have to get that policy loaded on boot, so I don't have to run the command every time I reboot my phone. Android has a method for loading SELinux policy from the /data partition, meant for OEMs to push policy OTA updates. To load the policy via an intent, it has to be signed, but you can just push the files in the right place with ADB and they will be loaded. So I put my fixed sepolicy file in /data/security/current, rebooted, and... it wasn't loaded. It turns out you have to put a selinux_version file in that directory, to avoid loading policy designed for an older system image.

# cat /selinux_version > /data/security/current/selinux_version
# restorecon /data/security/current/selinux_version

I copy that file into the right place, reboot, and... everything crashes. The RIL (radio interface layer) can't access the radio, so everything relating to cellular connectivity force closes. It's not obvious from the SEAndroid page I referenced above, but all of the files used for specifying security policy are loaded from /data/security when selinux_version exists.

12-21 23:13:55.842  2381  2381 W SELinuxMMAC: java.io.FileNotFoundException: /data/security/current/mac_permissions.xml: open failed: ENOENT (No such file or directory)
12-21 23:13:55.674  2381  2381 E SELinuxMMAC: java.io.FileNotFoundException: /data/security/current/seapp_contexts: open failed: ENOENT (No such file or directory)
Some of those other files are used to put certain apk packages in a more priveleged context. Therefore, you have to copy the rest from the initramfs to /data/security/current as well (they do not need any modifications).
# umask 022
# for f in /file_contexts /seapp_contexts /property_contexts /service_contexts /selinux_version /mac_permissions.xml
# do
#   cp $f /data/security/current$f
#   restorecon /data/security/current$f
# done
# chown -R system.system /data/security/current

I reboot again, and cellular service works again. That's good. But the replacement policy is not loaded. Surely now we are getting into "this is a bug" territory (from "this is an unintended use case"). Looking in the dmesg again:

[   62.824360] init: SELinux:  Could not load policy:  Permission denied
[   62.824755] type=1400 audit(66564380.419:5): avc: denied { load_policy } for pid=1 comm="init" scontext=u:r:init:s0 tcontext=u:object_r:kernel:s0 tclass=security permissive=0
This legitimately makes no sense made no sense at the time of my investigation. Apparently, CyanogenMod's GitHub was outdated (yes, I was looking at the right branch), because this commit was not merged and pushed. But that explains things now. So Google removed this support in Marshmallow because nobody used it. Well, I used it. It actually worked, albeit intermittently. It would work once after running load_policy on a file in /data, but never after running load_policy /sepolicy. This explains why it did not work when run during boot. (If you're wondering how I can even load policy with that neverallow rule being there, CyanogenMod puts superuser access in permissive mode.)

It seems, then, the only real solution is to compile my own CyanogenMod builds, with that rule added in at the source level. I do a bit of customization of my system image with an addon.d script anyway. I was trying to avoid that, as it increases the lag time for getting security updates and other bugfixes. Security is hard.

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