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Re: On raw strings in <origin> commit field

From: Mark H Weaver
Subject: Re: On raw strings in <origin> commit field
Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2021 20:13:24 -0500

Hi Liliana,

Liliana Marie Prikler <> writes:
> It should be noted, that in the case of moving or deleted tags, the
> assertion Guix "1.2.3" = upstream "v1.2.3" no longer holds.

Agreed, but I don't think that assertion should be our top priority.

For purposes of Guix's core goal of enabling software to be reliably
reproduced in the future, the most important property to preserve is
that 'Guix "1.2.3"' should remain forever immutable.

An obvious corollary is that if upstream mutates the meaning of
'upstream "v1.2.3"' over time, then the equation above will become
false.  That would be an unfortunate result of upstream's actions, but
it's exactly what _needs_ to happen to enable Guix to be reliably

If I perform an experiment with Guix "1.2.3" and publish the results,
and someone later wishes to reproduce those results, they will want
precisely the same 'Guix "1.2.3"' that was used to perform the original
experiment, and not whatever version of the software upstream is now
calling "v1.2.3".

The simple fact is that the way Ricardo wrote the 'guile-aiscm' package
is the right way to ensure that it can be reliably reproduced in the

Guix packages that refer to git _tags_ may cease to be reproducible in
the future if upstream mutates or removes those tags, and it's simply
not feasible to transform our SHA256 hashes (of the NAR-encoded source
checkout) into something that we can use to fetch the archived source
from SWH.  There's simply no hope to make that work, unless we can
convince SWH to maintain a secondary index of their content based on
NAR-encoded source trees, which seems unlikely.

On the other hand, if we refer to git _commit hashes_, then it *is*
feasible for us to fetch the archived source from SWH, regardless of
what upstream has done to its tags in the meantime.

For that reason alone, I think that the way Ricardo wrote the
guile-aiscm package definition is clearly the right approach, given
Guix's longstanding goals.

> On the note
> of fallbacks, we do also have the issue that Guix fails on the first
> download that does not match the hash instead of e.g. continuing to SWH
> to fetch an archive of the old tag (as well as other fallback-related
> issues, also including the "Tricking Peer Review" thread).

That's a bug that can, and should, be fixed.  The existence of that bug
might temporarily prevent us from enjoying the benefits of Ricardo's
approach, but that's not an argument for adopting practices that push us
farther from our core goals.

What do you think?


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but very few check the facts.  Ask me about <>.

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