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Re: permissions of files in dist tarball

From: Jim Meyering
Subject: Re: permissions of files in dist tarball
Date: Wed, 25 Nov 2009 21:15:45 +0100

Ralf Wildenhues wrote:
> Hello Alan, Jim,
> * Jim Meyering wrote on Sun, Nov 22, 2009 at 04:32:57PM CET:
>> Alan Curry wrote:
>> > So was the drwxrwxrwx in the tarball put there to teach a lesson to those
>> > who trust a tarball to have sane permissions? Or is it a bug?
>> On one hand, you can also think of it as a LART for
>> anyone who builds from source as root  ;-)
>> I think the motivation was to avoid imposing restrictions.  With relaxed
>> permissions, the umask of the unpacker completely determines the permissions.
>> If the distribution-tarball-creator were to choose stricter permissions,
>> say prohibiting group/other write access, that would make it harder for
>> people who use 002 and want all directories to be group-writable.
>> That said, I'd have no objection to applying "chmod 755"
>> (rather than a+rwx) to the directories that go into the tarball.
>> FYI, those permissions were set via the Automake-generated "make dist"
>> rule, so every automake-using package has created distribution tarballs
>> that way for at least 10 years.
> Automake is following the GNU Coding Standards recommendation here,
> which lists another reason ((standards.info)Releases):
>      Make sure that the directory into which the distribution unpacks (as
>   well as any subdirectories) are all world-writable (octal mode 777).
>   This is so that old versions of `tar' which preserve the ownership and
>   permissions of the files from the tar archive will be able to extract
>   all the files even if the user is unprivileged.
>      Make sure that all the files in the distribution are world-readable.

Thanks, Ralf.

Considering that that text is at least 10 years old, I think
we can say with confidence that the reason for it (that then-old
version of tar) is no longer relevant.  I would like to update
that part of the GNU Coding Standards.

Can anyone think of a reason *not* to revise the GCS to allow
or even recommend using more safety-conscious permissions?

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