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Re: Updater Investigation
From: Ron <ron () skullsecurity net>
Date: Thu, 16 Jun 2011 17:32:32 -0500

On Tue, 7 Jun 2011 17:00:17 -0700 Fyodor <fyodor () insecure org> wrote:
On Thu, Jun 02, 2011 at 01:45:31PM -0700, Colin L. Rice wrote:
´╗┐David asked me to investigate more potential updating solutions
with regards to writing an auto-updater for nmap.

Thanks Colin.  I'm not sure of this, but I'm starting to think we
might want a hybrid approach between
just-updating-platform-independent-files and updating the binaries.
For example, one option is for the updater to do the following:
[...]

Of course there is the question of what platform-independent files we
should provide.  One option is to include the latest versions in svn,
but that might be too bleeding-edge for some.  Another option is to
maintain a tag/branch in SVN.  It could get bumped forward on an
automated fashion.  Maybe a new file change could be tagged after
there are no further changes to the affected file(s) in 24 hours.  And
we could do it manually if we really badly wanted to push an awesome
new script or change into the update stream.

I'm not 100% convinced this is the right approach, but I wanted to at
least put it into writing as one option.
I think this is the right approach as well. I was going to suggest the same thing. 

One big advantage is that this is compatible with the various Linux packaging systems that maintain the binaries, and 
can also be potentially compatible with Windows/Mac auto-updaters since you aren't changing the binary files - you're 
leaving those up to the user to change on their own. That's a good thing, I think. You're getting the scripts - which, 
by design, change quickly - and leaving the core - which, by design, should be stable and only change periodically. 

In terms of which files to choose, I think that all the Lua should be considered - including the part of NSE itself 
that's implemented in Lua. 

One thing you mentioned was notifying users of available updates when you run the nmap --update or whatever command. 
Something else to consider - do we want to notify the user of day-to-day updates during normal usage? I think there'd 
be a lot of resistance against nmap "phoning home" ever time it's run to check for updates, but perhaps we can take a 
page from Metasploit's metaphorical book and print, "it's been 45 days since your last update, to get the latest 
scripts you should run nmap --update now!". 

Ron
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