7.4. Using dip

Now that was rather simple. Nevertheless, you might want to automate the steps previously described. It would be much better to have a simple command that performs all the steps necessary to open the serial device, cause the modem to dial the provider, log in, enable the SLIP line discipline, and configure the network interface. This is what the dip command is for.

dip means Dialup IP. It was written by Fred van Kempen and has been patched very heavily by a number of people. Today there is one strain that is used by almost everyone: Version dip337p-uri, which is included with most modern Linux distributions, or is available from the metalab.unc.edu FTP archive.

dip provides an interpreter for a simple scripting language that can handle the modem for you, convert the line to SLIP mode, and configure the interfaces. The script language is powerful enough to suit most configurations.

To be able to configure the SLIP interface, dip requires root privilege. It would now be tempting to make dip setuid to root so that all users can dial up some SLIP server without having to give them root access. This is very dangerous, though, because setting up bogus interfaces and default routes with dip may disrupt routing on your network. Even worse, this action would give your users power to connect to any SLIP server and launch dangerous attacks on your network. If you want to allow your users to fire up a SLIP connection, write small wrapper programs for each prospective SLIP server and have these wrappers invoke dip with the specific script that establishes the connection. Carefully written wrapper programs can then safely be made setuid to root.[1] An alternative, more flexible approach is to give trusted users root access to dip using a program like sudo.

7.4.1. A Sample Script

Assume that the host to which we make our SLIP connection is cowslip, and that we have written a script for dip to run called cowslip.dip that makes our connection. We invoke dip with the script name as argument:
# dip cowslip.dip
DIP: Dialup IP Protocol Driver version 3.3.7 (12/13/93)
Written by Fred N. van Kempen, MicroWalt Corporation.
connected to cowslip.moo.com with addr 192.168.5.74
#

The script itself is shown in Example 7-1.

Example 7-1. A Sample dip Script

# Sample dip script for dialing up cowslip
# Set local and remote name and address
	get $local vlager-slip
	get $remote cowslip
	port ttyS3                # choose a serial port
	speed 38400              # set speed to max
	modem HAYES              # set modem type
	reset                    # reset modem and tty
	flush                    # flush out modem response
# Prepare for dialing.
	send ATQ0V1E1X1\r
	wait OK 2
	if $errlvl != 0 goto error
	dial 41988
	if $errlvl != 0 goto error
	wait CONNECT 60
	if $errlvl != 0 goto error
# Okay, we're connected now
	sleep 3
	send \r\n\r\n
	wait ogin: 10
	if $errlvl != 0 goto error
	send Svlager\n
	wait ssword: 5
	if $errlvl != 0 goto error
	send knockknock\n
	wait running 30
	if $errlvl != 0 goto error
# We have logged in, and the remote side is firing up SLIP.
	print Connected to $remote with address $rmtip
	default                  # Make this link our default route
	mode SLIP                # We go to SLIP mode, too
# fall through in case of error
error:
	print SLIP to $remote failed.

After connecting to cowslip and enabling SLIP, dip will detach from the terminal and go to the background. You can then start using the normal networking services on the SLIP link. To terminate the connection, simply invoke dip with the –k option. This sends a hangup signal to dip, using the process ID dip records in /etc/dip.pid:
# dip -k

In dip's scripting language, keywords prefixed with a dollar symbol denote variable names. dip has a predefined set of variables, which will be listed below. $remote and $local, for instance, contain the hostnames of the remote and local hosts involved in the SLIP link.

The first two statements in the sample script are get commands, which is dip's way to set a variable. Here, the local and remote hostnames are set to vlager and cowslip, respectively.

The next five statements set up the terminal line and the modem. reset sends a reset string to the modem. The next statement flushes out the modem response so that the login chat in the next few lines works properly. This chat is pretty straightforward: it simply dials 41988, the phone number of cowslip, and logs in to the account Svlager using the password knockknock. The wait command makes dip wait for the string given as its first argument; the number given as its second argument makes the wait time out after that many seconds if no such string is received. The if commands interspersed in the login procedure check that no error occurred while executing the command.

The final commands executed after logging in are default, which makes the SLIP link the default route to all hosts, and mode, which enables SLIP mode on the line and configures the interface and routing table for you.

7.4.2. A dip Reference

In this section, we will give a reference for most of dip's commands. You can get an overview of all the commands it provides by invoking dip in test mode and entering the help command. To learn about the syntax of a command, you may enter it without any arguments. Remember that this does not work with commands that take no arguments. The following example illustrates the help command:

# dip -t
DIP: Dialup IP Protocol Driver version 3.3.7p-uri (25 Dec 96)
Written by Fred N. van Kempen, MicroWalt Corporation.
Debian version 3.3.7p-2 (debian).

DIP> help
DIP knows about the following commands:

	beep         bootp        break        chatkey      config
	databits     dec          default      dial         echo
	flush        get          goto         help         if
	inc          init         mode         modem        netmask
	onexit       parity       password     proxyarp     print
	psend        port         quit         reset        securidfixed
	securid      send         shell        skey         sleep
	speed        stopbits     term         timeout      wait

DIP> echo
Usage: echo on|off
DIP>

Throughout the following section, examples that display the DIP > prompt show how to enter a command in test mode and what output it produces. Examples lacking this prompt should be taken as script excerpts.

7.4.2.1. The modem commands

dip provides a number of commands that configure your serial line and modem. Some of these are obvious, such as port, which selects a serial port, and speed, databits, stopbits, and parity, which set the common line parameters. The modem command selects a modem type. Currently, the only type supported is HAYES (capitalization required). You have to provide dip with a modem type, or else it will refuse to execute the dial and reset commands. The reset command sends a reset string to the modem; the string used depends on the modem type selected. For Hayes-compatible modems, this string is ATZ.

The flush code can be used to flush out all responses the modem has sent so far. Otherwise, a chat script following reset might be confused because it reads the OK responses from earlier commands.

The init command selects an initialization string to be passed to the modem before dialing. The default for Hayes modems is “ATE0 Q0 V1 X1”, which turns on echoing of commands and long result codes, and selects blind dialing (no checking of dial tone). Modern modems have a good factory default configuration, so this is a little unnecessary, though it does no harm.

The dial command sends the initialization string to the modem and dials up the remote system. The default dial command for Hayes modems is ATD.

7.4.2.2. The echo command

The echo command serves as a debugging aid. Calling echo on makes dip echo to the console everything it sends to the serial device. This can be turned off again by calling echo off.

dip also allows you to leave script mode temporarily and enter terminal mode. In this mode, you can use dip just like any ordinary terminal program, writing the characters you type to the serial line, reading data from the serial line, and displaying the characters. To leave this mode, enter Ctrl-].

7.4.2.3. The get command

The get command is dip's way of setting a variable. The simplest form is to set a variable to a constant, as we did in cowslip.dip. You may, however, also prompt the user for input by specifying the keyword ask instead of a value:
DIP> get $local ask
Enter the value for $local: _

A third method is to obtain the value from the remote host. Bizarre as it seems at first, this is very useful in some cases. Some SLIP servers will not allow you to use your own IP address on the SLIP link, but will rather assign you one from a pool of addresses whenever you dial in, printing some message that informs you about the address you have been assigned. If the message looks something like “Your address: 192.168.5.74”, the following piece of dip code would let you pick up the address:
# finish login
wait address: 10
get $locip remote

7.4.2.4. The print command

This is the command used to echo text to the console from which dip was started. Any of dip's variables may be used in print commands. Here's an example:
DIP> print Using port $port at speed $speed
Using port ttyS3 at speed 38400

7.4.2.5. Variable names

dip understands only a predefined set of variables. A variable name always begins with a dollar symbol and must be written in lowercase letters.

The $local and $locip variables contain the local host's name and IP address. When you store the canonical hostname in $local, dip will automatically attempt to resolve the hostname to an IP address and to store it in the $locip variable. A similar but backward process occurs when you assign an IP address to the $locip variable; dip will attempt to perform a reverse lookup to identify the name of the host and store it in the $local variable.

The $remote and $rmtip variables operate in the same way for the remote host's name and address. $mtu contains the MTU value for the connection.

These five variables are the only ones that may be assigned values directly using the get command. A number of other variables are set as a result of the configuration commands bearing the same name, but may be used in print statements; these variables are $modem, $port, and $speed.

$errlvl is the variable through which you can access the result of the last command executed. An error level of 0 indicates success, while a nonzero value denotes an error.

7.4.2.6. The if and goto commands

The if command is a conditional branch, rather than a full-featured programming if statement. Its syntax is:
if var op number goto label

The expression must be a simple comparison between one of the variables $errlvl, $locip, and $rmtip. var must be an integer number; the operator op may be one of ==, !=, <, >, <=, and >=.

The goto command makes the execution of the script continue at the line following that bearing the label. A label must be the first word on the line and must be followed immediately by a colon.

7.4.2.7. send, wait, and sleep

These commands help implement simple chat scripts in dip. The send command outputs its arguments to the serial line. It does not support variables, but understands all C-style backslash character sequences, such as \n for newline and \b for backspace. The tilde character (~) can be used as an abbreviation for carriage return/newline.

The wait command takes a word as an argument and will read all input on the serial line until it detects a sequence of characters that match this word. The word itself may not contain any blanks. Optionally, you may give wait a timeout value as a second argument; if the expected word is not received within that many seconds, the command will return with an $errlvl value of 1. This command is used to detect login and other prompts.

The sleep command may be used to wait for a certain amount of time; for instance, to patiently wait for any login sequence to complete. Again, the interval is specified in seconds.

7.4.2.8. mode and default

These commands are used to flip the serial line to SLIP mode and configure the interface.

The mode command is the last command executed by dip before going into daemon mode. Unless an error occurs, the command does not return.

mode takes a protocol name as argument. dip currently recognizes SLIP, CSLIP, SLIP6, CSLIP6, PPP, and TERM as valid names. The current version of dip does not understand adaptive SLIP, however.

After enabling SLIP mode on the serial line, dip executes ifconfig to configure the interface as a point-to-point link, and invokes route to set the route to the remote host.

If, in addition, the script executes the default command before mode, dip creates a default route that points to the SLIP link.

Notes

[1]

diplogin must be run as setuid to root, too. See the section at the end of this chapter.