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.Dd August  9, 2020
.Dt LIBRETLS 7
.Os "Causal Agency"
.
.Sh NAME
.Nm LibreTLS
.Nd libtls for OpenSSL
.
.Sh DESCRIPTION
This is a sort of announcement post about LibreTLS,
my port of libtls from LibreSSL to OpenSSL.
If you've wanted to try any of my software
but have been unable to because of LibreSSL,
LibreTLS is an option that will likely work for you.
I'm including instructions
for building it and my IRC software
on Debian as an example,
since manually installing libraries
is less straightforward than it could be.
.
.Pp
libtls is
.Do
a new TLS library,
designed to make it easier to write foolproof applications
.Dc .
It was developed as part of LibreSSL,
.Ox Ap s
fork of OpenSSL,
and is implemented against their version of libssl.
It provides a nice high-level API
for TLS sockets,
with functions like
.Xr tls_connect 3 ,
.Xr tls_read 3
and
.Xr tls_write 3 .
This is a vast improvement over libssl's
confusing mess of an API!
Its relative obscurity is a real shame
for C programmers.
.
.Pp
An obvious cause of its obscurity
is that it is tied to LibreSSL.
Although LibreSSL is available
for platforms other than
.Ox ,
it conflicts with OpenSSL
so is difficult to install alongside it
and is often not packaged at all.
Additionally,
even if a user manually installs LibreSSL,
libtls is likely not to work on some distros
due to its hardcoded CA bundle file path.
.
.Pp
Since libtls is implemented against libssl,
which originates in OpenSSL,
it should be possible to use libtls with it.
This is what I set out to do in LibreTLS.
I started by importing the sources
from a LibreSSL-portable release,
then worked on porting the portions
that were incompatible with OpenSSL.
.
.Pp
The simpler changes just involved
replacing internal struct field accesses
with public APIs.
libtls accesses libssl internals
using a hack to get the header files
to declare private struct fields,
and for basically no reason.
The bigger changes involved
reimplementing some functions
which only exist in LibreSSL,
but these were still quite small.
I also imported the necessary compatibility functions
from LibreSSL's libcrypto
and adapated the autotools build files
to produce only a libtls
which depends on OpenSSL.
.
.Pp
Along the way
I decided to make one small behavioural change
in order for LibreTLS to be more likely
to work for everyone.
I removed the hardcoded CA file path
and changed the default configuration
to use OpenSSL's default CA paths,
which include a CA directory.
This seems to be the preferred CA source
on systems such as Debian,
where the default CA file path doesn't exist.
.
.Pp
I think the reason LibreSSL
wants to avoid using a CA directory
is so that it can fully load the CA file
once before being sandboxed.
However,
using OpenSSL's default configuration,
the CA file will still be loaded immediately
if it exists.
If it doesn't exist,
sandboxed applications
will fail when trying to
load certificates from the directory,
but unsandboxed applications
will work just fine.
Since LibreSSL's libtls
would fail either way,
I think the new behaviour
is an improvement.
.
.Pp
Another advantage of separating libtls from LibreSSL
is that it is unencumbered by OpenSSL's
awkward double-license,
both of which are incompatible with the GPL.
libtls is all new ISC-licensed code,
and future versions of OpenSSL (3.0)
will be released under the Apache 2.0 license,
which is compatible with GPLv3.
In the future,
GPL software will be able to link with
libtls and OpenSSL without additional permissions.
.
.Pp
It's also worth noting that LibreSSL
likely will not be able to import any code
from future versions of OpenSSL,
since Apache 2.0 is on
.Ox Ap s
license shitlist.
LLVM is also slowly changing their license
to Apache 2.0,
so it'll be interesting to see what
.Ox
does.
.
.Ss Installing Manually
To install LibreTLS on Debian,
for example,
fetch a release tarball from
.Lk https://causal.agency/libretls/
and install the build dependencies:
.Bd -literal -offset indent
sudo apt-get install build-essential libssl-dev pkgconf
.Ed
.
.Pp
.Xr pkgconf 1
isn't a dependency of LibreTLS itself,
but it's how my software
configures its build
for a dependency on libtls.
The usual build steps
will install the library:
.Bd -literal -offset indent
\&./configure
make all
sudo make install
.Ed
.
.Pp
The library will be installed in
.Pa /usr/local/lib
by default,
and you need to make sure
the dynamic linker
will be able to find it there.
On Debian,
.Pa /usr/local/lib
already appears in
.Pa /etc/ld.so.conf.d/libc.conf ,
but on other systems
you'll probably need to add it to either
.Pa /etc/ld.so.conf
or a new file such as
.Pa /etc/ld.so.conf.d/local.conf .
Once the library is installed
and the path is configured,
the linker cache needs to be refreshed:
.Bd -literal -offset indent
sudo ldconfig
.Ed
.
.Pp
You'll probably also need to set
.Ev PKG_CONFIG_PATH
for the configure scripts
of my software:
.Bd -literal -offset indent
PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/usr/local/lib/pkgconfig ./configure
.Ed
.
.Pp
On
.Fx ,
LibreTLS and some of my IRC software
can be installed from my own
.Lk https://git.causal.agency/ports/ "ports tree"
.
.Sh SEE ALSO
.Bl -item -compact
.It
.Lk https://git.causal.agency/libretls/about LibreTLS
.It
.Lk https://man.openbsd.org/tls_init.3 "libtls API documentation"
.El
.
.Pp
Another alternative libtls implementation,
.Lk https://sr.ht/~mcf/libtls-bearssl/ "libtls-bearssl"
.
.Sh AUTHORS
.An June Bug Aq Mt june@causal.agency