1. Isaac Jurado
  2. Canute




  1. About Canute
  2. Usage
  3. Compilation
    1. Hasefroch
  4. Protocol enhancements
    1. File modification time
    2. Executable bit
  5. Protocol restrictions
  6. Source code files
  7. Credits

1. About Canute

Canute is a small command line utility to transfer files and directories over the network. It does not have authentication nor any other kind of privileges. It can be handy in a number of situations, specially on LAN.

For example, imagine you are with a friend and he has a big CD/DVD image you want (whatever Linux distro). Depending on the operating systems you have, there are some ways of doing the copy:

  • FTP: Set up a server (you need root privileges for that) and then allow anonymous upload, create a new account for your friend or give him access using your account. Don't forget a good FTP client
  • HTTP: Maybe handier than FTP but upload is a bit trickier.
  • SFTP/SSH: This is account based so give new accounts or your own.
  • RSync: If you want to use it two way you need to transfer over SSH, then you are in the same situation as before. Otherwise both of you should configure a server with the appropriate modules (which, again, requires root privileges).
  • NFS: Hasefroch does not easily support it. This is not as hard as it used to be thanks to the modern Linux distributions. But you need at least two servers: the port mapper and the nfsd. Not mentioning the kernel support, the permission grant from the server (/etc/hosts.allow), etc... And it is quite slow for big files.
  • SMB: Very similar to NFS but slower.
  • Finally, you could also waste a CD/DVD burning that ISO image and giving it to your friend.

With Canute you use the same binary for all tasks: sending or receiving. No need for installation, just the damn binary.

2. Usage

There are two pairs of concepts: server-client and sender-receiver. The server-client couple only defines who (of the two peers) has to execute the application first. The sender-receiver defines the direction of the transfer.

Let's have host A and host B. The following scenarios show the commands and the order in which must be executed:

Scenario 1

A sends files to B. This is the usual way of working.

host_A$ canute send file1 file2 ...
host_B$ canute get host_A
Scenario 2

A sends files to B, but A is behind a firewall and cannot open ports (NAT/PAT).

host_B$ canute getserv
host_A$ canute sendto host_B file1 file2 ...

We see how server-client roles can be switched independently from sender-receiver roles. The server is the peer who waits for the client to be connected. The server is not persistent and the port is closed when it finishes. That means you do not have to worry about leaving that port opened on your router if you want to do Internet transfers.

You can also choose a different port than the default (1121/tcp) specifying it after the Canute sub-command, like this:

host_A$ canute send:5030 file1 file2 ...
host_B$ canute get:5030 host_A

Or else:

host_B$ canute getserv:5030
host_A$ canute sendto:5030 host_B file1 file2 ...

When a directory path is provided as a command line argument, then is sent recursively.

3. Compilation

Canute can now compile in many UNIX flavours, as well as in Hasefroch natively (both 32-bit and 64-bit) using MinGW-w64.

The Makefile is written using some GNU Make extensions (beware BSD users, do not forget to use gmake). If you are compiling within a GNU environment (GCC), as many open source Unices are, you do not need to do any special tricks. Execute make help to find out what you need.

Commercial UNIX variants do not offer a GNU environment, mainly because they have their proprietary C compiler, therefore compiler flags must be modified. However, some commercial UNIX flavours are supported as long as GNU Make is installed.

In particular, to compile Canute in Solaris (SunOS 5.x) and in HP-UX, it is enough to run gmake. Note that OSF1 (5.1 and above) testing has been dropped because we do not have access to any such platform anymore. Other flavours (like AIX) may need additional tuning. Porting patches are welcomed.

3.1 Hasefroch (aka: Win32)

As a Hasefroch average user, you are not expected to be interested in this part because a binary is usually provided. But if you would like to patch Canute yourself and produce binaries for Hasefroch you can easily do so from UNIX by doing cross compilation. Install MinGW-w64 (crossed) from your package manager and execute:

make hase

If you want to do it in Hasefroch, get GNU Make from Unix tools for Win32 and MinGW-w64. Tune up a bit the Makefile and compile as you like. The Makefile is very straightforward.

4. Protocol enhancements

Version 1.2 introduces some improvements on the protocol. The previously reserved field in the header packet now carries some additional information about the file being transferred.

To maintain backwards compatibility with versions 1.0 and 1.1, the last byte of each file header is marked with a special value. Old versions will ignore that mark and the new information introduced into the header packet.

So if one of the peers is using a version below 1.2, do not expect these added features to work.

4.1. File modification time

Most remote copying utilities provide a way to maintain, at least, file modification time intact. In general it is desirable to preserve such information for many reasons; for example, to make a backup-like remote copy.

An attempt to use this information to decide upon resuming transfers showed that it is trickier than it seems at a first glance. Therefore, the resume policy has not been altered.

Remember, though, that Canute is NOT a mirroring nor backup software. Nevertheless, this feature helps to make Canute friendlier to such mirroring software.

4.2. Executable bit

The Canute experience has also shown that in many cases, the lack of executable bit information introduces some inconveniences. This is particularly annoying on large directory tree transfers. Therefore, this information is now sent through the connection.

The executable bit is also kind of "resumed" because it propagates. But the lack of it does NOT propagate. That means once the executable bit is set locally, subsequent resumes will not clear it.

Obviously, the use of executable bit is disabled in Hasefroch builds as it does not make sense.

5. Protocol restrictions

Sometimes, files and directories have names that contain characters that are not defined in the ASCII encoding, for example: pestiño soplón.txt. The way such names are stored in the filesystem varies widely from one operating system to another. It may even be different on two installations of the same operating system.

In order to just find out which encoding is beign used to store filenames, it is necessary to rely on platform dependent functionality. Not to mention the transcoding step before and after transferring.

Since Canute 1.4, filenames are converted to printable ASCII before sending them. So in our previous example, they other end would recive something like pesti~o sopl~n.txt as the filename. The final result, again, depends on how the platform handles filenames.

6. Source code files

canute.h:Dirty tricks to make the rest of the code portable and as #ifdef clean as possible.
canute.c:Main function. Command line parsing and role selection (server-client, sender-receiver).
feedback.c:User feedback module, progress bar, information and timing.
net.c:Basic network management functions. Connection handling, block transfer and message passing.
protocol.c:Sender-receiver negotiations and content transfers.
util.c:Unclassified utility functions.

7. Credits

Original idea and current maintenance:
Major contributions and ideas:
Initial win32 port:
 Plimo San
Testing aid:MKD, Tito Houzy, m3gumi, bl4d3