GNU Inetutils 2.0 Is Released

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The GNU Project is "pleased" to announce Inetutils 2.0. This is the first release of the GNU implementations of many commonly used Internet utilities such as ping, ftp, hostname, ifconfig and telnet in six years.

written by 윤채경 (Yoon Chae-kyung)  2021-02-26 - last edited 2021-02-27. © CC BY

Ifconfig from inetutils.jpg
ifconfig. It was trendy until everyone started using ip to configure their network interfaces. This is the net-tools implementation, not the one that comes with GNU inetutils.

The GNU inetutils contain implementations of a lot of the common network-related utilities found on modern GNU/Linux distributions. Some of the same programs it provides are implemented by the completely different net-tools package and some are implemented by the also very different iputils package. The ping, hostname and ifconfig implementations your favorite GNU/Linux distribution comes with may or may not be provided by GNU inetutils.

The previous version of GNU inetutils was released on June 10th, 2015. The first version mentioned in the changelog of inetutils-1.3a (the oldest version available for download at the GNU Project), which doesn't have a number, was released on December 30, 1995. A common/version.c was added the following year.

Six Years In The Making

The changes between inetutils-1.9.4, released on June 10th 2015, and the shiny new version are surprisingly small for a six year long development-cycle.

ping has gained fallback code that allows it to send ICMP ECHOREQUESTs.

ifconfig will now allow you to change the link level addresses (that would be your MAC hardware address on a Ethernet interface). Tunnel interfaces get some additional information shown and there's fixes that ensure that all the flags added to ifconfig get applied. There's also a new workaround for the GNU/Hurd kernel that ensures that the hardware interface type is correctly identified and several other GNU/Hurd-specific fixes.

ftp, a utility used to transfer files between machines in the 1990s, has gained support for a new "open" command. Nobody uses ftp anymore and major web browsers have phased out support for the ftp protocol. You may not have heard of it, but we can assure you that ftp was something all the cool kids used to get their "warez" in the late 1990s.

rcp, a remote file copy utility originally developed by the Computer Systems Research Group at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1982, has a fix for integer overflows when copying files lager than 2 GiB. This bug was discovered by Wenlin Kang, who gets a honorable mention for being the first person to try rcp this century, in 2015. It turns out that size should probably not be a standard int when you're working with large files.

hostname will no longer print a trailing space after the hostname and -F is now able to handle comment-only input files.

syslogd has gained a fix for glibc versions prior to 2.17. glibc version 2.17 was released on December 25th, 2012. It is unclear who, if anyone, is still using that today.

tftpd, for the Trivial File Transfer Protocol standardized in 1981, has gained AIX portability and LOG_NDELAY has been added to the openlog() function.

traceroute has gained a fallback to ICMP tracing on GNU/Linux. This mode does not support identification of intermediary hosts due to a limited capability of receiving ICMP packets other than ICMP_ECHOREPLY.

telnet, something used prior to the advent of ssh, will now validate the environment variables due to a security issue identified as CVE-2019-0053. There's also a fix for a remote exploit called BraveStarr (CVE-2020-10188) in telnetd.

whois has a new hard-coded host for looking up domain names in Canada.

There's also some changes to the manual pages for the various packages.

talk, the talk client, looks completely untouched since the last release six years ago. It has probably been longer than that since anyone used it, so it was probably not in a dire need of an update.

You can acquire inetutils 2.0 from https://ftpmirror.gnu.org/inetutils/inetutils-2.0.tar.xz (1.5MB). You may want to verify the signature for it using https://ftpmirror.gnu.org/inetutils/inetutils-2.0.tar.xz.sig if you do.

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