Rootconf 2016

Rootconf is India's principal conference where systems and operations engineers share real world knowledge about building resilient and scalable systems.

Spencer Krum



Submitted Jan 15, 2016

Learn to use the Tinc VPN, and, more imprortantly, learn why it’s a good thing to use, which is “A secure way to do insecure things.”


In the past, the network was a safer place. The difference between a workstation and a server was a bit more vague. Desktops had apache web servers and NFS mounts coming from them. Workstations could run finger and connect to other hosts on the network. Printers were available to anyone who could broadcast onto the network. Video was shipped across the network to random hosts or multicast addresses. Security wasn’t something we worried about because we trusted everyone on the network.

I personally never lived in this time, but I can imagine it being great. The early network was energized by awesome protocols for file sharing, video, communication, and peripherals. What I did experience was the last hoorah of this kind of ‘open’ network during my time at University.

My friends and I have deployed a peer-to-peer mesh network using Tinc ( This technology allows us to build an overlay network on the public internet that looks like a flat layer 3 network. Tinc networks are encrypted using SSL. Since we (mostly)trust everyone on the network, and all communication is encrypted, we can do things with our network that we’ve not been able to do before.

Given a secure way to do insecure things, a number of protocols that had been left in the wastebucket are back in play. NFS, UPnP, 515(print spooler), 79(finger) and more can be used securely in this network. This means our computers can behave more like the workstations of old, and we can live that glorious unix workstation heyday.

In addition, our laptops now have permanent IP addresses that have transparent encryption to other nodes on the network. This opens the door for all kinds of cool automation and tricks, that will be shown in this talk. This quickly became a service discovery problem and we deployed Consul ( to detect service availability and to provide name services into the network.


Eyes, ears, and a laptop if you want to follow along.

Speaker bio

Spencer (nibalizer) Krum has been sysoping Linux since 2010. He works for IBM contributing upstream to OpenStack and Puppet. Spencer coordinates the local DevOps user group in Portland. Spencer helped found the puppet-community effort, which attempts to bring together a network of developers, modules, and infrastructure.

In his free time he volunteers for an ops-training program at Portland State University called the Braindump. Spencer is a published author and frequent speaker at technical conferences. Spencer lives and works in Portland, Oregon where he enjoys cheeseburgers and StarCraft II.



{{ gettext('Login to leave a comment') }}

{{ gettext('Post a comment…') }}
{{ gettext('New comment') }}
{{ formTitle }}

{{ errorMsg }}

{{ gettext('No comments posted yet') }}

Hosted by

We care about site reliability, cloud costs, security and data privacy