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Re: [PATCH] Remove HFS support

From: Daniel Axtens
Subject: Re: [PATCH] Remove HFS support
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2022 23:31:52 +1000

Let me answer this out of order.

> I understand the need to sometimes get rid of old code, but since the HFS
> module can be blacklisted as Vladimir explains, I don't really understand
> the reasoning in this particular case.

I want _all_ grub code to reach a minimum standard of not crashing or
corrupting memory in the presence of malicious input. HFS does not reach
that standard.

Whether or not the HFS module could be omitted from a signed binary
doesn't really bear on the fact that there are bugs in the code, the
presence of bugs has been publicly known for over 18 months (see commit
1c15848838d9) and no-one has shown any intention of fixing the bugs.

If you or someone else (someone from Gentoo, perhaps?) want make it fuzz
clean, then that'd be great. If no-one is able to bring it up to what is
*not* an especially high standard, then it should be considered
abandoned by developers and therefore removed.

(And as I said in another email, HFS has in fact been built in to a
signed binary recently. Module-based protection is great in theory but
this example demonstrates that it falls down in practice.)

>> Have you checked that you can't boot them with HFS+? Because HFS+
>> came in 1998, which was (AFAICT) pretty early on in the G3 lifecycle. So
>> I'd be really surprised if the firmware didn't support booting from
>> HFS+. I'd be very keen to hear.
> I have not tested that due to lack of time. The problem is that some early
> firmware versions might have issues with HFS+ that we haven't verified
> yet.

Any approach that says 'we must wait for test results for very old macs'
puts the grub community in a bind. I'm not aware of anyone else stepping
up to contribute test results on old macs, and I can't go across to an
apple store and buy one. So in order to test this, the entire grub
upstream stalls on (AFAICT) you personally.

This not the first time we find ourselves in this situation either.  For
example, RH is carrying the 'powerpc-ieee1275: support larger core.elf
images' series out of tree because they need it to boot on modern Power
boxes. It broke on your machine in a way no-one else has reproduced, and
I last emailled you asking for more information to debug the failure in

For me, this is not a desirable, sustainable, or acceptable
situation. For the project to sustainably support 24 year old macs, we
need more than the tests you do in your free time.

Finally and in conclusion:

> What's wrong with retrocomputing? Debian's popcon currently reports more
> machines running the 32-bit big-endian Debian port than the 64-bit little
> endian port, see [1].

I have no complaint with running _old_ software on old hardware. That's
a cool hobby and an important part of preserving the history of computing.

My complaint about running _new_ grub on very old hardware is that the
inaccessibility of said hardware and the lack of a well-resourced
community or company to do the work are all getting in the way of people
trying to make grub a modern bootloader, reaching modern security
standards, for modern systems.

Kind regards,

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