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MirageOS v2.5 with full TLS support

By Amir Chaudhry , Thomas Gazagnaire - 2015-06-26

Today we're announcing the new release of MirageOS v2.5, which includes first-class support for SSL/TLS in the MirageOS configuration language. We introduced the pure OCaml implementation of transport layer security (TLS) last summer and have been working since then to improve the integration and create a robust framework. The recent releases allow developers to easily build and deploy secure unikernel services and we've also incorporated numerous bug-fixes and major stability improvements (especially in the network stack). The full list of changes is available on the releases page and the breaking API changes now have their own page.

Over the coming week, we'll share more about the TLS stack by diving into the results of the Bitcoin PiƱata, describing a new workflow for building secure static sites, and discussing insights on entropy in virtualised environments.

In the rest of this post, we'll cover why OCaml-TLS matters (and link to some tools), mention our new domain name, and mention our security advisory process.

Why OCaml-TLS matters

The last year has seen a slew of security flaws, which are even reaching the mainstream news. This history of flaws are often the result of implementation errors and stem from the underlying challenges of interpreting ambiguous specifications, the complexities of large APIs and code bases, and the use of unsafe programming practices. Re-engineering security-critical software allows the opportunity to use modern approaches to prevent these recurring issues. In a separate post, we cover some of the benefits of re-engineering TLS in OCaml.

TLS Unix Tools

To make it even easier to start benefiting from OCaml-TLS, we've also made a collection of TLS unix tools. These are designed to make it really easy to use a good portion of the stack without having to use Xen. For example, Unix tlstunnel is being used on https://realworldocaml.org. If you have stunnel or stud in use somewhere, then replacing it with the tlstunnel binary is an easy way to try things out. Please do give this a go and send us feedback!

openmirage.org -> mirage.io

We've also switched our domain over to https://mirage.io, which is a unikernel running the full stack. We've been discussing this transition for a while on our fortnightly calls and have actually been running this unikernel in parallel for a while. Setting things up this way has allowed us to stress test things in the wild and we've made big improvements to the networking stack as a result.

We now have end-to-end deployments for our secure-site unikernels, which is largely automated -- going from git push all the way to live site. You can get an idea of the workflows we have set up by looking over the following links:

Security disclosure process

Since we're incorporating more security features, it's important to consider the process of disclosing issues to us. Many bugs can be reported as usual on our issue tracker but if you think you've discovered a security vulnerability, the best way to inform us is described on a new page at https://mirage.io/security.

Get started!

As usual, MirageOS v2.5 and the its ever-growing collection of libraries is packaged with the OPAM package manager, so look over the installation instructions and run opam install mirage to get the command-line tool. To update from a previously installed version of MirageOS, simply use the normal workflow to upgrade your packages by using opam update -u (you should do this regularly to benefit from ongoing fixes). If you're looking for inspiration, you can check out the examples on mirage-skeleton or ask on the mailing list. Please do be aware that existing config.ml files using the conduit and http constructors might need to be updated -- we've made a page of backward incompatible changes to explain what you need to do.

We would love to hear your feedback on this release, either on our issue tracker or our mailing lists!