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Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2019 17:03:50 +0100
From: Morten Linderud <>
Subject: Re: Mitigating malicious packages in gnu/linux

On Tue, Nov 19, 2019 at 03:37:23PM +0100, Tim Kuijsten wrote:
> > There is not a definitive solution here. But there are multiple efforts and
> > research going on. The most important one, in my opinion, is the reproducible
> > builds project [1]. We need to ensure we are not inserting random or
> > non-deterministic data into our build artifacts. This stretches from upstream
> > developers providing tarballs, to pre-compiled sources and packages from
> > distributions. There is no distribution today that has full reproducible builds,
> > but there are many projects that work towards this and work on reproducible
> > builds.
> One attack that is not solved by reproducible builds is one on the toolchain.
> This can be solved with bootstrappable builds[1] which is about minimizing the
> number of trusted binaries that are needed to produce the toolchain, that
> produced the toolchain, ... that was used to build your package.

Indeed. Reproducible builds does not solve the case described by Ken Thompson in
Trusting Trust [1], nor enables the work described by David Wheeler and DDC [2].
But that isn't explicitly the goal either. We first need to be in a state where
we are capable of reproducing the distributed artifacts. Then we can investigate
the boostrap problem.

Which is why Reproducible Builds is also invested in this problem :) There is a
yearly summit with projects that contribute to reproducible builds. Last year in
Paris there where 3 sessions on bootstrapping [3][4][5]. The sessions where
mostly lead by Guix developers if I recall correctly, and they have been doing
great progress on this problem [6].

(I see Ludovic replied first but sent it regardless :D)


Morten Linderud

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