[SailfishDevel] Scriptlets in RPM hot allowed to Harbour

Marcin M. marmistrzmar at gmail.com
Sat Jan 11 15:49:38 UTC 2014

So how else can we update sudoers...? No custom package manager could be
done without it.


2014/1/11 Thomas Perl <th.perl at gmail.com>

> Duty calls[1]...
> tl;dr: No postinst scripts in Harbour. chmod 666 stuff in /usr/ is wrong.
> On 11 Jan 2014, at 13:51, Martin Kolman <martin.kolman at gmail.com> wrote:
> > 11.1.2014 13:34, Alejandro Exojo:
> >>> QA can check if post script doing some good job and allow it?
> >> If the script is simple, yes. If it is not, there is a serious risk that
> >> somebody adds a trojan horse to the phone.
> >>
> >> That would mean that somebody has to define what is a simple script.
> And that a
> >> problem in QA could mean a trojan horse is added to users' phones.
> > And yet normal Linux distributions like Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu or
> openSUSE manage to check their tens of thousands of packages just fine…
> The following is just my personal opinion on this story in the form of a
> wall of text[4], in which you can choose to run into or not. Also, it’s not
> meant to be harsh, even if it reads like this in some parts of it. Just a
> (hopefully thorough enough) explanation of why it’s a bad idea to have
> postinst and chmod 666 stuff in /usr/ so that app developers can go back to
> creating great apps, understanding the reasons for not having postinst
> scripts and that it’s a Good Thing, and doesn’t conflict with What We’re
> Used To on Desktop Linux.
> All the core packages (well, most of them at least) of Fedora, Debian,
> etc.. are open source in the repositories, built on their servers, and
> could at least in theory be reviewed by someone. Try to get a package into
> Fedora or Debian that does “chmod 666” to some directory in /usr/share/ in
> the postinst script - probably not going to be accepted there.
> In fact, if you want to go all “Desktop Linux” on this issue, read the
> FHS[6], and let me quote RedHat’s documentation[7]:
>   “The two most important elements of FHS compliance are: […] The ability
> to mount a /usr/ partition as read-only."
> In any case, at least for Debian, here’s the policy page regarding
> maintainer scripts in case you haven’t read it yet:
> http://www.debian.org/doc/debian-policy/ch-maintainerscripts.html
> Also, have a look at all those nice flow graphs (I especially like the
> “Upgrading” one) in the Debian wiki related to maintainer scripts (it might
> be different in the RPM world, but the point is that it’s not as trivial as
> it sounds initially):
> https://wiki.debian.org/MaintainerScripts
> But - we’re neither Debian nor Fedora (nor openSuSE for that matter); and
> I don’t even know if we comply to the FHS or not - this is Sailfish OS.
> Don’t say “It’s an RPM system - I know this”[2] while not understanding the
> subtle points, and that a package in Debian/Fedora is different from an
> “app” on a mobile device. Where postinst scripts make sense on Debian for
> system packages, and even where they make sense on Sailfish OS/Mer for
> system packages (we use postinst scripts there, and for good reasons!),
> these scripts in almost all cases do not make sense in third-party app
> packages.
> If you think your package is that useful and needs to run as daemon and
> have postinst scripts, chances are you should be trying to get it into Mer
> or Nemo Mobile, from which it can then be picked up and be installed into
> the system - possibly even by default (yay!), because it’s so awesome
> (seriously, if you have such an app/middleware/service, don’t bother
> getting it into Harbour - get the middleware parts into Nemo Mobile and
> integrated well, then only push a GUI for it into Harbour [yes, I know
> that’s more work *for you* and will take “ages", but it will result in
> something much nicer and saner *for everybody*]).
> The problem in this thread is that somebody is trying to do something
> that’s a bad idea in general. The question should not be “How do I make
> /usr/share/$NAME world-writable?” (that is usually NEVER a good idea), but
> rather “My app wants to do this and that, my initial approach was to make
> /usr/share/$NAME world-writable, but that’s not allowed by Harbour, and now
> that I come to think of it, it’s probably the wrong solution - how would I
> solve this problem in a way that is acceptable by Harbour and still
> achieves my goal?” (and if you ask that question, I’ll be more than happy
> to help ;).
> By the way, the Harbour rules are not set in stone and up for discussion
> to be improved and more developer-friendly, so please post any issues that
> you have here. However, postinst scripts (at the current state where they
> are run as root at installation time) and world-writable /usr/ are NOT up
> for discussion (and this very mail tries to explain why).
> Just for the record, in case it wasn’t clear:
>  - Files in /usr/share/ must not be writable by normal users (guess what?
> that’s a requirement in Fedora, Debian, etc.. as well!, also it makes
> debugging so much harder; there’s no way to just “nuke the app’s config in
> /home/nemo/ to start afresh“ if the app might have overwritten, changed or
> deleted some data in /user/share/ that it also uses at runtime)
>  - RPM packages must not install files to /home/nemo/ (guess what? if you
> were to install files there on a Fedora/Debian system, it would be pretty,
> pretty bad for obvious reasons [hint: your username on your Desktop system
> might not be “nemo”, and your Desktop system might have multiple users, and
> the numeric UID of the user might be a different one, etc])
> In addition, don’t forget that:
>  - Deleting files in /usr/share/ doesn’t work, as those files will be
> re-created each time the package is upgraded
>  - Modifying files in /usr/share/ doesn’t work, as those files will be
> overwritten each time the package is upgraded
> (see a pattern there?)
> The *user* as owner of the device can do whatever he/she pleases (they can
> be root and mess with the system as much as they want), they are the ones
> paying for fixing the device in case it’s bricked and needs to be sent to
> care. The *app* as “guest” on the user’s device should do sane things, and
> ideally not cause breakage, and ideally not run as root, at least not
> without the user’s permission - definitely not at installation time without
> user confirmation.
> There are still an infinite number of things that a bad app can do, even
> as “nemo” user, that harbour QA or any amount of manual checking will never
> be able to catch (hint: google “Static program analysis” and “Halting
> problem” for a very scientific approach or think about embedding/encrypting
> shared libraries/executables in your binary and extracting +
> executing/loading them at runtime for a very practical approach). Those
> will be catched and dealt with later / when the app is out.
> Again, the *user* is root on the device, not the *app*. If you install one
> of my applications, it’s still you who owns the device and has root, not my
> application - and that is a very, very good thing. It really is. Trust me.
> Or actually don’t trust me. Because you don’t want my code running as root
> when my app is installed (I wouldn’t want my code running as root when my
> app is installed, for that matter).
> The fact that there might have been some packages in Maemo Extras back in
> the day that installed files to /home/user/ or even /home/user/MyDocs/
> (think about what happens when the device is connected as USB Mass Storage
> while the package is installed [hint: yeah, MyDocs isn’t mounted during
> that time]) doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a good idea in general
> (hint: it really isn’t a good idea, and never was).
> > BTW, I would be more concerned of closed source binary-only packages
> being submitted to the store, than about scripts you can actually read.
> When a user installs an app from the Store, nowhere do they have the
> chance to read (or even understand) the script. The script can be anything,
> even calling a closed source binary that’s installed as part of the
> package. Even if we had the manpower and expertised people in QA that can
> read, check and understand(!) all postinst scriptlets (even I can’t do
> that), it would still be a bad idea. Even if the sources were open (hint:
> open source doesn’t mean readable or understandable code[3]).
> The fact that the postinst scripts are shell scripts doesn’t have anything
> to do with “scripts you can actually read” (or understand), of course for
> the pathological case of “chmod 666” it would be easy to do, but in the
> general case, it’s not. And it doesn’t change the fact that “chmod 666” in
> /usr/share/ is still a bad idea.
> Also, when talking about maintainer scripts, people often forget about
> upgrading packages — postinst/preinst/postrm/prerm scripts sometimes have
> to be really really smart about those situations to not mess things up; if
> you’ve ever upgraded a Debian system, they even have things in place that
> will try the old postrm (for example) script and fall back to the new one
> in case the old one fails, because otherwise you’d be stuck with a
> non-working system (the postrm can never be run -> the package can never be
> upgraded, or something like that - go checkout the Debian Wiki link from
> above, it’s complicated).
> I don’t even know of any other user-friendly mobile platform that allows
> something like postinst scripts (certainly not as root user). If it’s a
> good idea, do it and be “unlike”, but if it’s a bad idea, stick to whatever
> everyone else is doing (be “like”) and/or improve on that with good ideas.
> > The blob can on the other hand do anything without QA having any
> reasonable means to check for that.
> The “blob” is usually run as “nemo” user, which by default has less
> permissions than the root user (which is the user with which postinst
> scripts are run). Ideally I’d personally like to see those apps running
> completely sandboxed - again, not to “close down the system”, but rather to
> protect you and me - the users - from bad apps (and they don’t even have to
> be programmed to be bad, it might just be a typo[5] without bad intentions
> ending up doing something really really bad).
> Eventually I’d like to be able to download a random RPM package from the
> web, and install it without checking what’s inside, and still have some
> degree of certainty that this app won’t do anything bad to my system, or my
> user data. But again, we’re not there yet, so the Harbour rules try to
> atleast avoid the obvious places where such problems usually crop up.
> Again, in my very personal opinion (like everything in this mail), an open
> device to me means that I *as user* can have root and do everything I want
> to do, but I don’t want random apps that I install (that includes my own
> apps) to run as root, not during install time and also not during runtime.
> if *I* on *my device* decide that it’s a good idea to run app A as root, I
> can do so from the command line in a root shell or from a GUI app that I
> installed myself.
> HTH :)
> Thomas
> [1] http://xkcd.com/386/
> [2] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFUlAQZB9Ng
> [3] http://www.ioccc.org/
> [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wall_of_text
> [5] https://github.com/MrMEEE/bumblebee-Old-and-abbandoned/issues/123
> [6] http://www.pathname.com/fhs/
> [7]
> https://access.redhat.com/site/documentation/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/6/html/Storage_Administration_Guide/s1-filesystem-fhs.html
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