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Sounds like someone forgot to call this function, and maybe most of the systems were big-endian, so it didn't matter, but one was little-endian: https://linux.die.net/man/3/ntohl

Endianness was the first thing I thought of as well. Or maybe one component of the stack thought that IP addresses are char[4] while another thought they're u32_t, though you'd expect that to be caught by the typechecker.

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