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Date: Sun, 9 Aug 2009 11:25:19 +0400
From: Solar Designer <>
Subject: Nmap's Ncat vs. OpenBSD's netcat (was: Nmap 5.00; new Owl ISO)

Henri, Radek -

Thank you for your comments.

On Thu, Jul 30, 2009 at 10:31:00PM +0300, Henri Salo wrote:
> I vote for both since at least I need OpenBSD's version for testing
> several services. It could also be installed separately so
> Owl-installation would be as small as possible.

Can you provide a specific example where OpenBSD's version would be
better than Ncat?  If so, I'd imagine that the Ncat authors would want
to fix Ncat to perform just as well as OpenBSD's netcat does.

As to the installation size, there's not much to save by excluding
OpenBSD's netcat.  The package is just 17 KB installed.  For comparison,
Ncat is 261 KB installed.  That's for our current packages for i386.

Both are quite small, so my question was about the duplicate
functionality and about our responsibility for bugs in two
implementations rather than just in one of them. ;-)

On Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 07:16:17AM +0200, Radek Michalski wrote:
> In my opinion, regarding also Henri Salo's mail, maybe "nc" should be
> available as an add-on to keep Owl installation small and have no
> functionality duplication at the beginning?

We could certainly do that, but I doubt that anyone would maintain that
add-on; I doubt that anyone would need it, even.  I am a bit puzzled by
Henri's comment.  I am still typing "nc" and not "ncat" myself, but I
think that's just a habit.

Looking at the sizes, it would make more sense to move Ncat to add-ons,
but we can't reasonably do that without moving Nmap to add-ons as well,
and the functionality of both Nmap and Ncat is useful in standard Owl
installs I think (especially considering possible uses of our live CDs).

A related thought is that we have both /bin/vi (small) and /usr/bin/vim
(large).  Both of these are builds of VIM, so it's not exactly the same
as /usr/bin/nc vs. /usr/bin/ncat, which are from different sources, yet
there's some similarly here.  Maybe this is an excuse to keep both. ;-)

Thanks again,


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