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Re: Guix and remote trust

From: zimoun
Subject: Re: Guix and remote trust
Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2019 13:50:39 +0100

Hi Pierre,

On Fri, 13 Dec 2019 at 13:24, Pierre Neidhardt <address@hidden> wrote:

> >  1. check the integrity on the balaitou machine by running "guix gc 
> > --verify"
> I'm not sure this works because if `guix' itself is compromised,
> `guix gc --verify' becomes irrelevant.  Or is there another way?

Ok. And so?
It means that some hashes will differ between the hashes on aneto (you
trust) and balaitou (compromised).
It is not possible to "guix gc --verify" two machines and to obtain
all the same hashes. Or it means that the "attacker" is doing

> >  2. publish the store of aneto with "guix publish"
> And then install packages from balaitou?  But if Balaitou's "guix" is
> compromised, it does not matter that the substitute server is trusted.

Your point is to check if balaitou is compromised, right?
The goal of "guix publish" is not to install or serve substitutes, it
is just to publicly expose what we trust.
Whatever from where comes from the binary (substitutes, local build, etc.).

> >  3. challenge the store of balaitou against the store of aneto with
> > "guix challenge"
> This seems like a good option.  In particular, this should verify "guix"
> itself, and thus everything else.

Without the "guix publish" on aneto, it is hard to "guix challenge" on balaitou

> So I'd reverse your point.  By first challenging Balaitou, we can trust
> the guix executable and from there we can run 1. and 2.

Yes, if you have root access and network control on balaitou, you can
expose it ("guix publish").
Then Alice will "guix challenge" her own store (on aneto) against the
balaitou one.

> Thoughts?

The only issue is that "guix challenge" works with local builds.
So Alice needs to locally build everything used on balaitou.
I am imagining that aneto is the Alice's laptop and balaitou a server.
So, Alice could populate the aneto store using substitutes (from for example. And then publishing the result.
And the server balaitou can build what Alice wants to use on balaitou.

Well, all this is on theory and principles. :-)

Hope that helps.


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