[Whonix-devel] GNU Guix Questions

bancfc at openmailbox.org bancfc at openmailbox.org
Tue Mar 7 20:31:45 CET 2017

On 2017-03-07 12:05, ng0 wrote:
> On 17-03-07 00:59:08, bancfc at openmailbox.org wrote:
>> On 2017-03-06 17:15, ng0 wrote:
>> > Hi bancfc,
>> >
>> Hi ng0, great to see you here :)
>> > On 17-03-06 16:14:08, bancfc at openmailbox.org wrote:
>> > > Hi Guix devs, I am a privacy distro dev and we are looking at using
>> > > Guix in
>> > > our OS. I have a few questions:
>> > >
>> > > * Is the Guix package archive available from a Tor hidden service?
>> > > There are
>> > > many advantages of updating a system over Tor such as preventing a
>> > > target
>> > > adversary from fingerprinting and targeting hosts that run vulnerable
>> > > packages and protecting systems in case the package manager has a
>> > > security
>> > > bug. Debian and Tor now provide onion mirrors for their packages.
>> > > Can you
>> > > please consider doing the same?
>> >
>> > As far as I know this might be discussed currently at GNU
>> > sysadministration level,
>> > at least that's the last info I got when I suggested this last week to
>> > RMS.
>> > There is an onion mirror which is run by another community. It doesn't
>> > mirror alpha.gnu.org yet (where guix binaries are located), but it plans
>> > to do so. I need to get in touch with the community to ask wether they
>> > would be okay with more bandwidth.
>> > Do you have an estimation on how high your usage would be for the guix
>> > download from the onion mirror?
>> >
>> The amount for bandwidth is approximately the size of GNUnet x 15K 
>> users.
> I think we have a misunderstanding here. Do you mean access to the
> releases of Guix as in what's on
> https://alpha.gnu.org/whatever/the/path/to/guix/was, where the software
> itself is released, or did you mean what we call 'binary substitutes' 
> in
> Guix, the packages which are build from the guix.git master which
> feature the software (here software as in tor, perl, epiphany, gnupg,
> etc)?
> Now that I'm reading your initial email again it reads as if could be
> either or both. It would be good if you try to clarify this.

Yes I meant binary substitutes not Guix itself.

>> Later on we will expand the selection to include Tor Browser once you
>> package it - if that pans out that would be a massive achievement. The
> FYI:
> The torbrowser I am packaging initially is a 1:1 copy of what 
> torbrowser
> team is keeping in the git repository. Nix for example decided to
> just patchelf the binary releases of torbrowser (the tar files found on
> dist.torproject.org), this is not acceptable for the work for Guix.
> So I'm trying my way with building from git tags. If there are other
> people interested and willing to help (once I have something to debug),
> I will share recipes / git repositories to work on it.

I think this work is so important that it deserves bringing it to the 
notice of the Tor devs on their mailing list. They will probably help 
out because it is something they have been wanting to do and are 
interested in:


> Furthermore the final package version for Guix will include fixes which
> might be needed, similar to what icecat does to firefox esr, to include
> it in Guix. This is of course no 1:1 torbrowser then anymore and must
> not be described as such. It'll be interesting to see if at all it
> differs in fingerprinting from torbrowser.

To check the fingerprint of your versions you can use this site: 

It was a product of a GSoC project to exclusively measure Tor Borwser 
fingerprints between versions to help TBB devs and users make sure they 
are safe.

> If for any reason you need the full 1:1 copy we can talk about this 
> once I/we
> are getting there, offlist or at least not on guix-devel at gnu.org.

No particular reason for 1:1 as long as the Guix package is fully 
reproducible and closely tracks upstream security updates its ok with 

>> Torproject have discussed packaging it for years but they couldn't 
>> work it
>> out because of the breakneck speed of development and the cumbersome 
>> process
>> of creating Debian packages. Meanwhile anonymity distros were forced 
>> to come
>> up with a workaround safe downloader mechanism in absence of a package
>> fecthable from a package manager. Its been a high maintenance effort 
>> over
>> the years and a Guix package would finally solve this.
>> Another "wishlist" package would be GNU-libre kernel that includes the
>> Grsecurity patchset so we can include that out of the box instead of
>> requiring users to manually patch and tweak settings with every 
>> (weekly) new
>> upstream release.
> I think HEADS (the linux-libre grsec devuan based blend) did this, or 
> they
> are working on it. I know for Guix, someone is working on SELinux. I
> think if you are looking into getting a GRSec enabled kernel with
> according policies, this must be answered by someone who knows more
> about the core of Guix.
> It might also be the case that I don't fully understand your plan. What
> I read sounds like you are either mixing up Guix and GuixSD or as if
> the differences between both need to be explained. It would be easier 
> to
> know the current state of the system, and where you want to go with 
> this.

I understand the difference between Guix and GuixSD - the latter is a 
full distribution based around the former. Since we are Debian based I 
was looking into cherry-picking packages from Guix binary repos because 
the way it works is ideal instead of the bureaucracy of Debian packaging 
policies which makes packaging impossible in some cases.

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