Introduction

Transferring files between server is no big deal with nowadays network equipments. You use rsync, scp or even http to get a file from A to B.

Of course, you rely on the TCP stack so you have a decent reliability in the transport.

But TCP has its drawback, especially when it needs to go through a lot of equipments. Typically in the cloud, or over a VPN.

To prevent the drawbacks of the TCP protocol, there are several solutions:

  • Use UDP, but UDP by itself is not “reliable”
  • Develop another layer 4 protocol, but it cannot be done in a pure user space. You need to develop a system driver. It cannot be easily done on a large scale.
  • Use UDP and another framework on top of UDP.

Layer 4: UDP?

Yes, UDP, but with an “extra” layer. I’ve had the opportunity to try three of them.

  • Quic by Google
  • FASP by ASPERA
  • UDT by Dr GU.

Quic

First Google, along with its quic protocol, tries to enhance the user experience. Actually, a quic implementation is already present in chrome and within google web servers. I’ve heard about quic at the dotGo; Lucas Clemente has presented its work in progress of a quic implementation in GO.

I’ve tried it, but it lacks a client part by now, and the quic tools from chromium are far from being usable in a production environment.

Aspera’s FASP

Aspera has its own protocol. It is based on UDP. I’ve seen it running, and yes, it simply works! The problem is that it is not open source and a bit expensive.

The UDT protocol

The UDT protocol is described by ASPERA as its main competitor here. It’s open source and worth the try. It’s the one I will use for my tests. The code is distributed as a C++ library, but it exists GO bindings.

The Layer 7: HTTP

To actually transfer a file, I can use the udtcat tool provided in the github of go-udtwrapper. It is ok for a test, but I won’t be able to serve multiple files, to resume a transfer etc… So I need a layer 7 protocol. HTTP is, according to me, a good choice.

The implementation in GO

Implementing a simple client/server http-over-udt in go is relatively easy. The HTTP is interfaced in a way that the transport can be easily changed. Therefore, no need to reimplement a complete HTTP stack; GO has all I need in its standard library.

/assets/images/save-princess-go.jpg

https://toggl.com/programming-princess

I will use this fork of go-udtwrapper which seems to be the most up-to-date.

The server

Implementing a basic http server over UDT is very easy.

The Serve function from the http package takes a net.Listener as argument. The udt.Listen function implements the net.Listener interface.

Therefore we can simply use this code to serve HTTP content via the DefaultMuxer over udt:

ln, _ := udt.Listen("udt", config.Addr)
http.Serve(ln, nil)

A full implementation that serves local file is simply done by:

The client

The http.Client’s DefautTransport relies on TCP. Therefore we must completely rewrite a Transport to use UDT.

The Transport entry of the Client implements the RoundTripper interface.

The key point is to write a client transport for UDT that implements the RoundTripper interface.

The http.RoundTripper interface

Here is an example of an implementation:

// UdtClient implements the http.RoundTripper interface
type udtClient struct{}

func (c udtClient) RoundTrip(r *http.Request) (*http.Response, error) {
      d := udt.Dialer{}
      conn, err := d.Dial("udt", r.URL.Host)
      if err != nil {
          return nil, err
      }
      err = r.Write(conn)
      if err != nil {
          return nil, err
      }
      return http.ReadResponse(bufio.NewReader(conn), r)
}

The full client code

A simple client that will perform a GET operation on our server would be:

Building the tools

As we rely on CGO, to do a static compilation, we must use the extra flags: go build --ldflags '-extldflags "-static"'.

Conclusion

This is a very basic implementation of http over UDT. I have developed a more complete tool for my client, but it cannot be published in open source.

Among the things that I have done there are:

  • Gzip compression
  • Partial content for resuming a broken download (with http.ServeContent)
  • SHA256 checking at the end of the transport
  • an HTTP middleware (Rest API) to query the transfer states, rates and efficiency via the PerfMon interface

What’s not done yet:

  • TLS and mutual authentication
  • good benchmarks to actually measure the performances of UDT.
  • Downloading chunks to optimize the speed of transfer and the bandwith usage
  • maybe a POST method to upload a file in multipart