Buffer Overruns In Perspective

One problem which old code used to suffer from, was that it would causally cause slight buffer overruns, which the users never noticed, and in spite of which, the code seemed to work.

But one fact which the programming community has become aware of acutely in recent years, is that in many cases, carefully-crafted, malformed files could be given to those programs as input, in such a way that the attacker – the person who originated the malformed files – could get code to execute on the target’s computer, without this target ever being aware of the fact. Mind you, this probably did not happen in most cases. But under controlled conditions, this has often been proved possible to achieve.

So what has happened in the Linux world, is that the core libraries, against which all Linux software is compiled and linked, have been rewritten, so that they will stop a program cold, if that program causes the slightest buffer overrun. This has even been implemented in ways, that sometimes reduce performance, due to error-checking which wasn’t there before, and which is also not due to source-code belonging to any one application.

And so one result has been, that certain Linux programs no longer run, even though not one line of their source-code was ever changed. I recently had an experience which I believe to be of such a nature.

The reason these programs may no longer run, is that they were causing buffer overruns from the very beginning, only instances, which were not detected before.



pnmtofiasco Bug (Solved)

One of the things which some nerds do, is not just to present a photo of themselves, but to present a photo of themselves, which has been distorted in some specific way. In this vein, some of my readers may already have wondered, how I created the following image of myself:


This photo was actually obtained by using a Linux program that no longer works. That program started with a pixel-map, and compressed it into a so-called fractal representation, which is also known as ‘Fiasco’ format.

It may be common knowledge by now, that fractals can represent complex geometries, which take up very little data that way, but which exhibit self-similarity. And, fractals can be converted into pixel-maps to varying depths of recursion. But what some people did a long time ago, was explore, how pixel-maps can be compressed as fractals instead.

(Updated 05/23/2018 … )

Continue reading pnmtofiasco Bug (Solved)