[rb-general] Heading toward functional compilation by adding hidden inputs?

John Gilmore gnu at toad.com
Mon Jan 23 22:47:30 CET 2017

The reproducible-builds team is trying to evolve compilation to become
more like a mathematical function -- having defined inputs and
outputs, and always returning the same output from the same inputs.
Removing hidden inputs like the date, the local directory name, the
host system type, etc.

But what I find bizarre is that the way you are going about it is by
inventing NEW hidden inputs -- rather than evolving toward removing
more and more of the hidden inputs from the set of build tools.

Perhaps it comes from frustration with the feature-oriented mindset of
the tool developers -- if you ask them to REMOVE a feature, they are
dubious, while if you ask them to ADD a feature, they are more willing
to listen?

I would try to resolve that tension by defining reproducibility as the
feature you are trying to add.  (Not by defining "ability to secretly
control timestamps" or "option to override debug paths" as the
feature.)  As a former tool developer myself, I would be happier to
add reproducibility than to add any of those quirky obscure features.
Maybe there are others like me, if you can reach them.


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