Flame: Foreign Location Automatic Module Exposer

_images/flammable.png

Pyro Flame is an easy way of exposing remote modules and builtins, and even a remote interactive Python console. It is available since Pyro 4.10. With Flame, you don’t need to write any server side code anymore, and still be able to call objects, modules and other things on the remote machine. Flame does this by giving a client direct access to any module or builtin that is available on the remote machine.

Flame can be found in the Pyro4.utils.flame module.

Warning

Be very sure about what you are doing before enabling Flame.

Flame is disabled by default. You need to explicitly set a config item to true, and start a Flame server yourself, to make it available. This is because it allows client programs full access to everything on your system. Only use it if you fully trust your environment and the clients that can connect to your machines.

(Flame is also symbolic for burning server machines that got totally owned by malicious clients.)

Enabling Flame

Flame is actually a special Pyro object that is exposed via a normal Pyro daemon. You need to start it explicitly in your daemon. This is done by calling a utility function with your daemon that you want to enable flame on:

import Pyro4.utils.flame
Pyro4.utils.flame.start(daemon)

Additionally, you have to make some configuration changes:

  • flame server: set the FLAME_ENABLED config item to True
  • flame server: set the SERIALIZERS_ACCEPTED config item to {"pickle"}
  • flame client: set the SERIALIZER config item to pickle

You’ll have to explicitly enable Flame. When you don’t, you’ll get an error when trying to start Flame. The config item is False by default to avoid unintentionally running Flame servers. Also, Flame requires the pickle serializer. It doesn’t work when using one of the secure serializers, because it needs to be able to transfer custom python objects.

Command line server

There’s a little command line server program that will launch a flame enabled Pyro daemon, to avoid the hassle of having to write a custom server program yourself everywhere you want to provide a Flame server:

python -m Pyro4.utils.flameserver (or simply: pyro4-flameserver)

The command line arguments are similar to the echo server (see Test echo server). Use -h to make it print a short help text. For the command line server you’ll also have to set the FLAME_ENABLED config item to True, otherwise you’ll get an error when trying to start it. Because we’re talking about command line clients, the most convenient way to do so is probably by setting the environment variable in your shell: PYRO_FLAME_ENABLED=true.

Flame object and examples

A Flame server exposes a "Pyro.Flame" object (you can hardcode this name or use the constant Pyro4.constants.FLAME_NAME). Its interface is described in the API documentation, see Pyro4.utils.flame.Flame.

Connecting to the flame server can be done as usual (by creating a Pyro proxy yourself) or by using the convenience function Pyro4.utils.flame.connect(). A little example follows. You have to have running flame server, and then you can write a client like this:

import Pyro4.utils.flame

Pyro4.config.SERIALIZER = "pickle"    # flame requires pickle serializer

flame = Pyro4.utils.flame.connect("hostname:9999")    # or whatever the server runs at

socketmodule = flame.module("socket")
osmodule = flame.module("os")
print("remote host name=", socketmodule.gethostname())
print("remote server directory contents=", osmodule.listdir("."))

flame.execute("import math")
root = flame.evaluate("math.sqrt(500)")
print("calculated square root=", root)
print("remote exceptions also work", flame.evaluate("1//0"))

# print something on the remote std output
flame.builtin("print")("Hello there, remote server stdout!")

A remote interactive console can be started like this:

with flame.console() as console:
    console.interact()
    # ... you can repeat sessions if you want

… which will print something like:

Python 2.7.2 (default, Jun 12 2011, 20:46:48)
[GCC 4.2.1 (Apple Inc. build 5577)] on darwin
(Remote console on charon:9999)
>>> # type stuff here and it gets executed on the remote machine
>>> import socket
>>> socket.gethostname()
'charon.local'
>>> ^D
(Remote session ended)

Note

The getfile and sendfile functions can be used for very basic file transfer.

The getmodule and sendmodule functions can be used to send module source files to other machines so it is possible to execute code that wasn’t available before. This is a very experimental replacement of the mobile code feature that Pyro 3.x had. It also is a very easy way of totally owning the server because you can make it execute anything you like. Be very careful.

Note

Pyrolite - client library for Java and .NET also supports convenient access to a Pyro Flame server. This includes the remote interactive console.

See the flame example for example code including uploading module source code to the server.