Julia Evans

Day 21: Trying to TCP

Today I started trying to write a TCP stack. In Python. We will see if this is a good idea.

I’m using scapy. I talked about scapy on Thursday – it’s a great tool for playing with low-level networking stuff in Python.

So. I’ve gotten a TCP handshake working. The way this goes is you send a SYN, then get back a SYN-ACK, then send an ACK.

I tried this TCP handshake code first:

dest = "google.com"
source_port += 1 # We need to set a different source port every time
ip_header = IP(dst=dest)
ans = sr1(ip_header / TCP(dport=80, flags="S", seq=random.randint(0, 1000))) # Send SYN, receive SYN-ACK
reply = ip_header / TCP(dport=80, seq=ans.ack, ack = ans.seq + 1, flags="A") # ACK
send(reply) # Send ACK

This did NOT WORK. Upon inspecting Wireshark, it turned out that my machine was the problem: it was sending out a RST (reset) packet after I got a SYN-ACK packet back from Google. What’s up with that?

Well, I already have a network stack on my machine, and it was like “what’s this SYN-ACK packet? I didn’t ask for this!“. So it would just reset the connection.

Jari (who is amazing) suggested a workaround: set up a fake IP address and tell the router using ARP (previously) that I am the person with that IP address. Here’s the fixed version:

I think I could also use iptables here to tell the kernel to ignore those packets. But I’m currently afraid of iptables. So. This code worked much better!

# Set port & MAC address
FAKE_IP = "" # Use something that nobody else is going to have
MAC_ADDR = "60:67:20:eb:7b:bc" # My actual MAC address

# Broadcast our fake IP address
srp(Ether(dst="ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff")/ARP(psrc=FAKE_IP, hwsrc=MAC_ADDR))

source_port += 1
ip_header = IP(dst=dest, src=FAKE_IP) # Set the source port to 
ans = sr1(ip_header / TCP(dport=80, sport=source_port,  flags="S", seq=random.randint(0, 1000))) # SYN
# ans is the SYN-ACK
reply = ip_header / TCP(dport=80, sport=source_port, seq=ans.ack, ack = ans.seq + 1, flags="A") # ACK
send(reply) # Send ACK
pkt = ip_header / TCP(dport=80, sport=source_port, seq=reply.seq, flags="AP") / "GET / HTTP/1.1\r\n\r\n" # Send our real packet

That is my small amount of code for the day. I also spend a ton of time reading the UDP handling code from the 4.4BSD network stack. I do not yet have anything intelligent to say about that, but it’s pretty interesting.

Day 19: A few reasons why networking is hard NYC Python talk