Are You Sure This Is the Source Code?

Software freedom is an interesting concept, but being able to study the source code is useless unless you are certain that the binary you are running corresponds to the alleged source code. It should be possible to recreate the exact binary from the source code, but a simple analysis shows that this is very hard in practice, severely limiting the whole point of running free software.

Is that really the source code for this software? article looks into how easy it is to confirm that a binary package corresponds to a source package. It turns out that it is not easy at all. In practice building a binary package often results in a different file each time. This is mostly due to timestamps stored in the builds. Can a person rely on binaries or should we all compile from source? The writer hopes to raise awareness about the need for a reproducible way to create binaries from source code.


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