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Re: [PATCH] Remove HFS support

From: John Paul Adrian Glaubitz
Subject: Re: [PATCH] Remove HFS support
Date: Fri, 26 Aug 2022 17:27:24 +0200
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On 8/26/22 15:31, Daniel Axtens wrote:
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.

I surely understand that although it sounds a little academic to me.

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.

Well, I wasn't fully aware of the situation. I am not doing GRUB work
professionally, it's just one of the many projects I sometimes touch.

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.

Sometimes code just works as-is that's why people don't complain.

(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.)

Isn't it up to the distributions what they support and what not?

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

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

Well, I have tested the things you asked me to test. And besides that it didn't
work, I don't that we agreed on something else.

I am not the only one using it on old Macs, it's just me who is on this mailing
list. It's not like everyone using any software in the Linux world is subscribed
to any project's mailing list. I don't understand why some people assume that.

People will just at some point complain that it no longer works when they 
their software running their distributions.

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.

Well, GRUB is supposed to be a universal bootloader, isn't it?

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

I don't think PowerMacs are really that inaccessible, are they? They are
usually easy to buy off eBay and other used hardware platforms.

The problem with removing hardware support is that you are continuously
making it harder to run software on these machines which would otherwise
run fine up to a point where it breaks rendering all the work that people
have poured into keeping these ports working useless.

POWER hardware is usually rather expensive, so PowerMacs are usually the
only kind of PowerPC hardware that most people can afford.


 .''`.  John Paul Adrian Glaubitz
: :' :  Debian Developer
`. `'   Physicist
  `-    GPG: 62FF 8A75 84E0 2956 9546  0006 7426 3B37 F5B5 F913

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