[Distutils] a plea for backward-compatibility / smooth transitions

Nick Coghlan ncoghlan at gmail.com
Tue Jul 30 14:06:55 CEST 2013

On 30 Jul 2013 21:41, "Antoine Pitrou" <solipsis at pitrou.net> wrote:
> Donald Stufft <donald <at> stufft.io> writes:
> > > You don't happen to be a random security professional, you are
actually part
> > > of that upstream project and you have access to non-public (possibly
> > > confidential)
> > > data about its infrastructure, which gives you responsibilities
towards your
> > > peers.
> > >
> > > I don't think I would be the only one to be angry if an infrastructure
> member
> > > starting publishing working exploits for unfixed vulnerabilities in
the pdo
> > > infrastructure. It is a completely irresponsible way to act when you
> part
> > > of a project or community.
> >
> > I don't really care if you'd be angry.
> Great to hear. This mindset is typical of many "security specialists":
> you're ready to tell everyone to go f*** themselves (I don't know how to
> voice this differently) if you think you have a higher mission to
> denounce some vulnerability.
> > The point of Full Disclosure (and it's cousin
> > Responsible Disclosure) is to A) Inform everyone involved that they are
> > a huge risk by using a particular thing and B) Provide incentive to
people to
> > fix their shit.
> This does not necessarily involve publishing working exploits. By giving
> code that can immediately attack and bring down the pdo infrastructure,
> would be doing something else than merely "informing the public".
> (neither Bruce Schneier nor Wikipedia states that Full Disclosure implies
> publishing working exploits, btw. I suppose it means there is at the
> minimum some contention, rather than consensus, over the issue.)
> > If I can find a vulnerability then so can someone else.
> You may (and probably do) have domain knowledge and inside knowledge that
> others don't.
> > If you feel I'd be
> > overstepping my bounds then complain to my superiors, Richard/Nick on
> > packaging side of things and Noah on the Infrastructure team side of
> "Superiors"? Are you making things up, or do you have an org chart to
back that
> up? :-)

Effectively he does, yes. Richard is responsible for approving PyPI API
changes (including PyPI specific PEPs), I'm BDFL delegate for other
packaging PEPs and Noah has final say over the operation of the

One or more of us are the ones that need to say yes on potentially
controversial changes, so the responsibility for any mistakes ultimately
lies with us, rather than Donald (and I'm greatly appreciative of the huge
amount of work he is putting into improving the PyPI security story).

> (regardless, I would be surprised if any of those ordered *you* to
publish an
> exploit, rather than take the responsibility of doing it themselves - or,
> rather, not doing it at all)

If Donald informed us of a vulnerability and we refused to allow him (or
anyone else) to take the necessary steps to close it, then he would be
*completely* justified in publishing full details of the vulnerability, up
to and including working exploit code.

It won't come to that though, because we're taking this seriously and
closing security holes as quickly as is feasible while still ensuring a
reasonable level of backwards compatibility :)


> Regards
> Antoine.
> _______________________________________________
> Distutils-SIG maillist  -  Distutils-SIG at python.org
> http://mail.python.org/mailman/listinfo/distutils-sig
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