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Re: Use of %texlive-revision and %texlive-tag in tex.scm

From: Bengt Richter
Subject: Re: Use of %texlive-revision and %texlive-tag in tex.scm
Date: Tue, 6 Jul 2021 11:48:31 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.10.1 (2018-07-13)

Hi Nathan,
Nice writeup!

On +2021-07-05 11:03:46 -0300, Nathan Benedetto Proença wrote:
> Hello!
> I am trying to upgrade the package texlive, first for me, but hopefully
> for a patch, and I have a question regarding Guix policies.
> As you can see on
> the file guix/build-system/texlive.scm exposes two variables:
>     (define %texlive-tag "texlive-2019.3")
>     (define %texlive-revision 51265)
> These variables are used throughout gnu/packages/tex.scm, as you can see
> on
> An example is the following code:
>   (define hyph-utf8-scripts
>     (origin
>       (method svn-fetch)
>       (uri (texlive-ref "generic" "hyph-utf8"))
>       (file-name (string-append "hyph-utf8-scripts-"
>                                 (number->string %texlive-revision)
>                                 "-checkout"))
>       (sha256
>        (base32
>         "0lk7shx768sxvgr85y8bnmmnj8x4bbkgpxrz3z8jp8avi33prw83"))))
> Grep tells me there are 290+ occurrences of `%texlive-revision`.
> What is the purpose of these variables?
> You see, they give me the impression that Guix is really concerned about
> upgrading *all* of texlive at once.
> These variables tell me I should go to the file texlive.scm and bump the
> tag and revision, and then handle all the broken hashes.
> Hence, it seems to me that any attempt to upgrade the texlive package
> would have to be done in a separate branch, which would only be merged
> into master when all the packages are upgraded.
> Is this the case?
> And if so, why?
> I have the impression that if such "monolithic" upgrade is not a goal,
> and "partial" our "per-package" upgrades are desirable, there may be
> better solutions.
> For example, we could add keyword arguments to texlive-ref and
> texlive-origin, so the code above becomes something like this
>   (define hyph-utf8-scripts
>     (origin
>       (method svn-fetch)
>       (uri (texlive-ref "generic" "hyph-utf8"
>                         #:texlive-tag "texlive-2019.3"
>                         #:texlive-revision 51265))
>       (file-name "hyph-utf8-scripts-51625-checkout")
>       (sha256
>        (base32
>         "0lk7shx768sxvgr85y8bnmmnj8x4bbkgpxrz3z8jp8avi33prw83"))))
> This would work right now, and we could eventually remove every use of
> %texlive-revision and %texlive-tag, so they become implementation
> details of the build-system texlive.scm; a fallback version.
> And further down the road we may even decide to remove this fallback,
> and make developers be explicit about their tags and revisions; this
> could amount to a refactor which makes the keyword arguments into
> required arguments, for example.
> I also like the second version of the code because the hash already
> pinpoints the tag and revision: both texlive-ref and texlive-origin use
> these variables to find the correct files to download.
> This just makes this dependency explicit.
> In any case, as this may be a choice between shipping stable and
> up-to-date packages, and as I am new to contributing to Guix, I found
> fitting to ask.
> Thanks in advance!
> Nathan

I am wondering about guaranteeing generic behaviour by
guaranteeing program source and toolchain source hash
equivalences vs ignoring sources and guaranteeing end
results by testing results.

I.e., if you want to print the sum of x and y passed as
strings to a program, output as a string to stdout, it
doesn't matter (other than optimization and debuggability)
what language the program was written in, so long as it was
compiled into a form that execve and co can launch and the
end result is the same.

As part of testing, maybe strace could be used to generate
some kind of canonical kernel transaction trace that could
be used to compare behaviours for equivalency of executing
different-language programs?

This would be a radical change in the approach to
reproducibility, maybe dynamically selecting from a
whitelist of trusted/tested substitutable executables with
hash names in /gnu but not necessarily (though not
excluding) binaries produced with guix source guarantees.

Seems like guix is turing-complete enough to provide this
kind of substitutable foreign functions already, so might
this be a way to avoid mass recompilations?

Or is this already available, but not so much used?

I am not sure where to contibute thoughts like these, where
they would be of interest rather than distracting. (Pls
excuse the noise, if that's what this is to you).

Bengt Richter

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