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bug#22883: Channel introductions

From: zimoun
Subject: bug#22883: Channel introductions
Date: Wed, 3 Jun 2020 01:45:13 +0200

Hi Ludo,

Really cool!
Well, even if I am not enough clever to understand all that.

On Mon, 1 Jun 2020 at 16:08, Ludovic Courtès <ludo@gnu.org> wrote:

> I think we need a way to “introduce” a channel to its users that goes
> beyond a mere URL.

Just to be sure to well understand, will the good ol'

--8<---------------cut here---------------start------------->8---
     ;; Tell 'guix pull' to use my own repo.
     (list (channel
             (name 'guix)
             (url "https://example.org/my-guix.git";)
             (branch "super-hacks")))
--8<---------------cut here---------------end--------------->8---

still work as it is now? i.e., using the current "unauthorized"
mechanism.  Or will a new keyword be added to this channel description
to say "this channel does not use authorized machinery but it is

>      If that information were stored in ‘.guix-channel’, it would be
>      trivial for an attacker to fork the project (or push a new commit)
>      and pretend the authentication process must not take previous
>      commits into account.

What will happen to recursive '.guix-channel'?  The '.guix-channel' of
channel A contains the reference to the channel B where the
'.guix-channel' contains the reference to the channel C, etc.

>   4. When publishing a fork of a channel, one emits a new channel
>      introduction.  Users switching to the fork have to explicitly allow
>      that new channel via its introduction; flipping the URL won’t be
>      enough because ‘guix pull’ would report unauthorized commits.

I am a bit afraid by this... and I hope that a fork of a channel will
still work without emitting a new channel introduction.

>   5. The channel URL is not included in the introduction.  However, the
>      official URL is an important piece of information: it tells users
>      this is where they’ll get the latest updates.  It should be
>      possible to create mirrors, but by default users should go to the
>      official URL.  They should be aware that mirrors can be outdated.

I do not understand this paragraph.  The aim of mirrors is to avoid
the users to go to the official URL, isn't it?  And the mirrors do not
have by design the latest updates (time to propagate, etc.).

>      I think the official URL can be stored in ‘.guix-channel’ in the
>      repo (which is subject to the authentication machinery).  That way,
>      ‘guix pull’ can let the user know if they’re talking to a mirror
>      rather than to the official channel.

Why does it matter?  The user should authenticate the downloaded
content whatever the URL serving it, isn't it?
And can 'guix pull' already let the users know to who they are talking?

> This verbose interface creates an incentive to create a ‘guix channel’
> command that could make it easier to add a new channel.

Yahoga! :-)

Thank you.

All the best,

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