Why Operating Systems don't always upgrade GnuPG [was: Re: How can we utilize latest GPG from RPM repository?]

Daniel Kahn Gillmor dkg at fifthhorseman.net
Wed Feb 21 04:53:57 CET 2018

On Tue 2018-02-20 13:18:40 +0100, Dashamir Hoxha wrote:
> One solution to this situation may be to install the latest GnuPG
> in a Docker container, where it can have all the required libraries
> and dependencies that it needs, without disturbing the host OS.

I think this misses the point that it's not just *what does gnupg depend
on* but it's also *what depends on gnupg*.  The dependencies work in
both directions.

> Another solution may be to use a "snap", which is a kind of new
> software packaging invented by Ubuntu:

The basic idea behind "snap" and "flatpak" and other similar tools is
what many people call "bundling" or "vendoring" -- you ship the program
together with all its dependencies, regardless of what dependencies are
on the host system.  it's not a new idea at all, and is quite common on
many platforms, including in some flavors of cowboy web development.

As with docker containsers, this approach doesn't address the other
direction of the dependency graph.  In addition, all of these approaches
have maintenance costs and open questions about responsibility.  if
every app ships with its own bundled copy of libfoo, and a flaw is found
in libfoo, then it needs to be fixed.  can you be sure you've found and
fixed all copies?  Who is responsible for fixing each specific copy?  Do
those maintainers have enough time/attention/living expenses to make
sure vulerabilities and software flaws get patched in all of their
dependencies?  are they willing to re-ship the entire bundle/snap/docker
image for each dependency that needs an upgrade?

I recently heard bundling/vendoring/snaps/docker containers
characterized in the following way, which resonated with me:

    Hm, maintaining a complex operating system is hard.  I know, we can
    fix that by trying to maintain 100 complex operating systems

To be clear, i believe that there are contexts where bundling is
actually the right approach.  But it is not an obvious win to me in most


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