Revisiting ABI_VERSION handling policy

Jo-Philipp Wich jp.wich at
Tue Feb 9 17:56:32 EST 2021


> The last stable update didn't change SONAME, but it included changes to
> the same data structure that triggered the bug that I ran into. It could
> very likely have introduced very similar subtle breakage.

this is a clear upstream bug then. Might make sense to look into how other
distributions deal with that.

> Looking at the abi-laboratory timeline, there have been many incremental
> wolfssl releases that did not change the SONAME, but introduced
> potentially ABI incompatible changes. In fact, it seems to me that there
> are more breaking than non-breaking updates.

That doesn't inspire confidence into wolfSSL at all then. Maybe we should
reconsider using it by default. If upstream is not able to deliver a stable
ABI for a crypto library, I'd say it isn't really fit for our purposes.

> If we were to peg the ABI_VERSION to the package version, we could still
> deliver security updates by backporting relevant patches and review
> potential ABI isuses of those patches.

If we at the same time ensure that the library SONAME is properly modified to
always match ABI_VERSION and that the packaged shared object filename matches
SONAME then it is fine for me. Merely bumping ABI_VERSION while continue
shipping the same lib*.so.123 would not work as it'd lead to the previously
mentioned file conflicts (e.g. libfoobar1.1 (ABI_VERSION:=1.1) and
libfoobar1.2 (ABI_VERSION:=1.2) both shipping as incorrectly
specified by upstream)

>> [...]
> The breakage that I was seeing has nothing to do with exported symbols.
> The layout of a data structure changed. I'm not sure how to detect that
> from readelf/objdump output.

Okay, I missed that. Still, not changing exported data structures while
keeping the current SONAME should be common sense for any library maintainer.

The ABI_VERSION mechanism as it is right now relies on upstream being sane
obviously. I wrongly assumed that wolfSSL does proper ABI hygiene. Apparently
it doesn't so no wonder it breaks down in subtle ways.

As for the ability to detect it - it should be possible to reconstruct
effective binary struct layout from DWARF debug info. So given debug builds of
both the old and the new library versions, the output of a utility such as
dwarfdump can be compared.

>> [...]
> How do we address this in a proper way that isn't a potential foot-gun
> on every version upgrade?

Apart from investing time on our end to paper over versioning deficiencies, we
should talk to upstream, raise awareness for proper SONAME versioning. Also
look how Debian deals with it (if at all).

~ Jo

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