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A personal HTTP server for serving one-time-use shell scripts

Project description

curlbomb is an HTTP(s) server for serving one-time-use shell scripts.

You know all those docs for cool dev tools that start out by telling you to install their software in one line, like this?

bash <(curl -s

I call that a curl bomb… I don’t know if anyone else does.

curlbomb reads a file, or from stdin, and then serves it one time to the first client to retrieve it. A command is printed out that will construct the curl bomb the client needs to run, which includes a one-time-use passphrase (called a knock) required to download the resource. This command is copied and run in another shell, on some other computer, to download and run the script in one line.

curlbomb has optional integration with OpenSSH to make it easy to curlbomb from anywhere on the internet, to anywhere else, through a proxy server that you can forward the port through.


This script can be installed from the Arch User Repository (AUR):

pacaur -S curlbomb

Or from the Python Package Index (PyPI):

pip install curlbomb

Example Use

Serve a script stored in a file:

curlbomb /path/to/script

This outputs a curl command to run the script on another computer:

KNOCK='nDnXXp8jkZKtbush' bash <(curl -LSs

By default, the client must pass a KNOCK variable that is passed in the HTTP headers. This is for two reasons:

  • It adds a factor of authentication. Requests without the knock are denied.

  • It helps to prevent mistakes, as the knock parameter is randomly generated each time curlbomb is run and can only be used once. (-n 1)

(Astute readers will notice that the KNOCK variable is being fed to the script that is being downloaded, not into the curl command. That’s because it’s really a curlbomb within a curlbomb. The first curl command downloads a script that includes a second curl command that does require the KNOCK parameter. This nesting allows us to keep the client command as short as possible and hide some extra boilerplate. See –unwrapped.)

If you want the curl, without the bomb, ie. you just want to grab the script without redirecting it to bash, use –survey. This is useful for testing the retrieval of scripts without running them.

You can also pipe scripts directly into curlbomb:

echo "pacman --noconfirm -S openssh && systemctl start sshd" | curlbomb

Or from shell scripts:

cat <<EOF | curlbomb
echo "I'm a script output from another script on another computer"

Or type it interactively:

$ curlbomb -
pkg instll sqlite3
echo "bad idea, I don't have spollcheck when I typ in the terminal"

The shebang line (#!) is interpreted and automatically changes the interpreter the client runs:

cat <<EOF | curlbomb
#!/usr/bin/env python3
import this
print("Hello, from Python!")

Note that the resource curlbomb sends doesn’t need to be a script. Here’s a useful command to send a tarball of your private SSH keys to another client you’re setting up:

tar cjh -C $HOME .ssh | curlbomb -c "tar xjv -f"

The -c parameter tells the client what command to run the resource with. By specifying “tar xj -f” you are telling it to read the resource directly as a tarball and extract it.

By default, curlbomb constructs URLs with the IP address of the local machine. This usually means that clients on another network will be unable to retrieve anything from curlbomb, unless you have a port opened up through your firewall. As an alternative, curlbomb can be tunneled through SSH to another host that has the proper port open. For instance:

echo "apt-get install salt-minion" | curlbomb --ssh

The above command connects to over SSH (port 22 by default) and forwards the local curlbomb HTTP port to The URL that curlbomb prints out uses the domain name of the ssh server instead of the local IP address. The SSH tunnel is left open for as long as curlbomb remains running. Any user on will be able to fetch the resource from localhost:8080. However, by default, SSH does not open this up to the rest of the world. If you want any client to be able to connect to you will need to modify the sshd_config of the server to allow GatewayPorts:

# Put this in your /etc/ssh/sshd_config and restart your ssh service:
GatewayPorts clientspecified

For extra security, you can enable TLS with –ssl:

echo "PASSWORD=hunter2 run_my_server" | curlbomb --ssl /path/to/cert.pem

The example above is passing a bit of secure information; a password. Even without TLS, curlbomb secures access with a knock parameter. For many use-cases, this is sufficient to secure it, as curlbombs are short lived and can only be retrieved one time (-n 1). However, the connection itself might be spied on through traffic analysis at your ISP or any other router your connection flows through. Using TLS makes sure this doesn’t happen.

Note that when combined with the –ssh parameter, the SSL certificate should be generated for the host running the SSH server rather than the one running curlbomb. To prevent having to store the SSL certificate in plain text on your local machine, the file may be optionally PGP encrypted (ascii-armored) and curlbomb will decrypt it only when necessary.

By now the curlbomb command might be getting quite long. Once you’ve encrypted and stored your SSL certificate, and setup your SSH server, create an alias for ease of use, for example:

alias curlbomb_public=curlbomb --ssl ~/.curlbomb/curlbomb.pem --ssh

Command Line Args

usage: [-h] [-k] [-n N] [-p PORT] [-c CMD] [-d DOMAIN] [-w] [-l]
                   [-q] [-v] [--ssh SSH_FORWARD] [--ssl CERTIFICATE]
                   [--survey] [--unwrapped] [--disable-postback]
                   [--client-logging] [--mime-type MIME_TYPE] [--version]

-k, --disable-knock Don’t require a X-knock HTTP header from the client. Normally curlbombs are one-time-use and meant to be copy-pasted from terminal to terminal. If you’re embedding into a script, you may not know the knock parameter ahead of time and so this disables that. This is inherently less secure than the default.

-n N, --num-gets N The maximum number of times the script may be fetched by clients, defaulting to 1. Increasing this may be useful in certain circumstances, but please note that the same knock parameter is used for all requests so this is inherently less secure than the default. Setting this to 0 will allow the resource to be downloaded an unlimited number of times.

-p PORT The local TCP port number to use.

-c COMMAND Set the name of the command that the curlbomb is run with on the client. By default, this is autodected from the first line of the script, called the shebang (#!). If none can be detected, and one is not provided by this setting, the fallback of “bash” is used. Note that curlbomb will still wrap your script inside of bash, even with -c specified, so the client command will still show it as running in bash. The command you specified is put into the wrapped script. See –unwrapped to change this behaviour.

-d host[:port], --domain host[:port] Specify the domain name and port that is displayed in the URL of the client command. This does not change where the resource is actually located, use –port or –ssh for that. This is useful if you are setting up your own port forwards and need to show an external URL.

-w, --wget Print wget syntax rather than curl syntax. Useful in the case where the client doesn’t have curl installed.

-l, --log-posts Log the client output from the curlbomb server.

-q, --quiet Be more quiet. Don’t print the client curlbomb command.

-v, --verbose Be more verbose. Turns off –quiet, enables –log-posts, and enables INFO level logging within curlbomb.

--ssh SSH_FORWARD Forwards the curlbomb server to a remote port of another computer through SSH. This is useful to serve curlbombs to clients on another network without opening up any ports to the machine running curlbomb. The syntax for SSH_FORWARD is [user@]host[:ssh_port][:http_port]. The SSH server must have the GatewayPorts (see: man sshd_config) setting turned on to allow remote clients to connect to this port.

--ssl CERTIFICATE Run the HTTP server with TLS encryption. Give the full path to your SSL certificate, optionally PGP (ascii-armored) encrypted. The file should contain the entire certificate chain, including the CA certificate, if any.

--survey Only print the curl (or wget) command. Don’t redirect to a shell command. Useful for testing out script retrieval without running them.

--unwrapped output the full curlbomb command, including all the boilerplate that curlbomb normally wraps inside of a nested curlbomb.

This parameter is useful when you want to source variables into your current shell:

echo "export PATH=/asdf/bin:$PATH" | curlbomb -c source --unwrapped --disable-postback

Without the –unwrapped option, the client command will not run the source command directly, but instead a bash script with a source inside it. This won’t work for sourcing environment variables in your shell, so use –unwrapped when you want to use source. –disable-postback prevents the command from being piped back to the server (as source doesn’t have any output, and strangely fails to do it’s job when you do pipe it somewhere else.)

--disable-postback Disables sending client output to the server. Note that –log-posts will have no effect with this enabled.

--client-logging Logs all client output locally on the client to a file called curlbomb.log

--mime-type MIME_TYPE The mime-type header to send, by default “text/plain”

--version Print the curlbomb version

FILE The script or other resource to serve via curlbomb. You can also leave this blank (or specify ‘-’) and the resource will be read from stdin.

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