Reproducible Builds Summit Venice 2022

January 02, 2023 posted by Pierre Pronchery

The sixth Reproducible Builds Summit took place exactly two months ago in Venice, Italy. These three days of workshops were filled with a succession of interactive sessions, where everyone attending had the opportunity to present or learn about anything related to Build Reproducibility. This included the status of specific Open Source projects, techniques to locate, analyse, and understand issues, or also how to explain and communicate better around this topic.


But what is this about?

Reproducible Builds are a set of software development practices that create an independently-verifiable path from source to binary code.

Why is this important?

Anyone may inspect the source code of Free and Open Source Software for correctness or vulnerabilities. However, most software is distributed pre-compiled, with no method to confirm whether it actually corresponds to the source code published. This allows attacks in a number of different situations, from a malicious developer to network attacks, or the compromise of build infrastructure.

What can be done about it?

The purpose of Reproducible Builds is therefore to allow the verification that no vulnerabilities or backdoors have been introduced during the compilation process. By promising identical results for a given source, Build Reproducibility allows multiple third-parties to compare “correct” results, and to flag any deviations as suspect and worthy of scrutiny.

How is NetBSD doing in this regard?

The base system of NetBSD can be built reproducibly since its 8.0 release! It can be enabled in mk.conf when building NetBSD for instance.

And in pkgsrc?

A first step has been implemented, when using GCC on NetBSD to build packages. Some important tools have been packaged, such as diffoscope. However, further aspects of build reproducibility are not covered in pkgsrc yet, and we welcome contributions to improve this situation! This would help bring this additional security mitigation to the NetBSD community as well as to other systems and users of pkgsrc.

Summary and conclusion

If not already, you should definitely consider Build Reproducibility for your environment or software projects. It also applies to firmware, when sources are available. Thankfully NetBSD offers this ability for the base system already, but more work is required for packages.

As for myself, it was an honour and a pleasure to attend the Summit, keep in touch with the community, participate to the event, learn from everyone attending, and obviously to represent the NetBSD Foundation there. I am looking forward to the next Summit, which should take place in Hamburg from October 30th to November 2nd of 2023.

In the meantime, do not hesitate to get in touch, including to the NetBSD Foundation or to the pkgsrc community specifically, if you want to get involved with any aspect of Build Reproducibility or represent the NetBSD or pkgsrc projects for the Reproducible Builds community.



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