Hans-Christoph Steiner:
> I've been using faketime in my work on reproducible builds on Android (both
> "native" C code and Java), and it has been working well.  It seems to me that
> the current approach in Debian does not use faketime.
> Since so much of the little issues are due to timestamps, it could make a lot
> of sense if faketime was a default part of the process.  For the make+C builds
> I've done, faketime just froze the clock entirely and that worked.  For
> ant+java builds, it would hang forever with a frozen clock.  So I set faketime
> to run the clock at 5% speed, and that seems to work well.

Before getting into any technical details, let's start by the social
problem. We are talking about Debian (and derivatives!). There is no
canonical way a Debian package is built. Most developers will, for
example, use `fakeroot`, but it's optional and `sudo` is also supported.
To reproduce builds using libfaketime, you need both the original build
and the later builds to use libfaketime. Requiring that every Debian
developers uses libfaketime when building a package is a change that
would be very hard, if not impossible, to achieve.

For the most important technical problem: libfaketime cannot make the
build process entirely deterministic. According to my tests, parallel
execution, variations in file order, and randomness can all participate
in making the faked times different from one build to the next.

While experimenting in my little corner, I also saw several build
systems just fail, or fail to be reproducible with libfaketime. That's
what actually led me to remove the time fixing feature of the
`test-reproducibility` script entirely:
I really would love to have it back, but it simply could not be made to
work reliably under my fingers.

There's a consensus that libfaketime is not the good approach for
reproducible builds since the initial BoF during DebConf13. Patching
timestamps is a harder path, but we know there's not going to be a
hidden cliff in the middle of the journey.

Lunar                                .''`. 
lu...@debian.org                    : :Ⓐ  :  # apt-get install anarchism
                                    `. `'` 

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