2005 Edition Free and Open Source Software Developer's European Meeting


2005-02-22 - Gerald Combs


An interview conducted by FOSDEM & the LinuxFR readers
FOSDEM - First and traditional question: please present yourself !

Gerald Combs - My name is Gerald Combs and I'm the original author of Ethereal. In the past year or so I've started working on Ethereal full time as the Chief Architect of Ethereal Software, Inc. We provide support, education, and development services for Ethereal. I'm 37 years old and reside in the midwestern US. I'm lucky to have a beautiful wife and brand new baby daughter at home.

FOSDEM - How did you both start working on Ethereal ?

Gerald Combs - I first ran into open source about 15 years ago when I started working at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. We used a lot of open source packages to manage the network environment there. A few years later I moved on to another job and had a need for a protocol analyzer that ran under Solaris and Linux. I started work on Ethereal in 1998 and made the first public release in July of that year.

FOSDEM - What are new features you are planning to add in the future version of Ethereal?

Gerald Combs - The wish list on the wiki is quite long, so there are lots to choose from. There is work being done to enhance Ethereal's security (which is long overdue). Usability improvements are also planned. I've been working on a native Windows interface. At some point I'd like to improve the state of wireless captures.

FOSDEM - Why do you think that Ethereal became more than 'just another sniffer' ?

Gerald Combs - This is due to the developers. Shortly after the first release several talented and knowledgeable people started contributing code to the project. It quickly gained enough critical mass to attract more talented and knowledgeable people, and kept growing from there. I feel fortunate to be able to work with these folks. The work they do is just incredible.

As a result Ethereal is able to fill needs that other analyzers simply can't. It runs on many platforms, supports a ton of protocols (with new ones being added all the time), and has many useful and unique features.

FOSDEM - Hopefully, more and more traffic will be encrypted using stuff like ssl, ipsec, ssh, ... Will there be a support in ethereal for decrypting all this ? (if the user provides the private keys or certificates , of course)

Gerald Combs - Each of these features will most likely arrive at some point. We already support decryption in several protocols (802.11 WEP, Kerberos, RADIUS, and many others). Adding support for SSL, IPsec, SSH, and others is just a matter of getting the code written.

FOSDEM - What do you expect from your FOSDEM talk ?

Gerald Combs - I'm always eager to meet with Ethereal's users and developers. I'm also hoping to meet and chat with the developers and users of other projects. The fact that it's in Brussels is icing on the cake.


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