[Mono-list] bootstrapping mono with free software?

Noa Resare noa@resare.com
Tue, 23 Mar 2004 18:34:49 +0100

Hello friends

I had a look at mono again yesterday for about a year away from it, and
you guys have really been productive.

One thing however that I think is a bit frustrating with mono is that to
bootstrap it you distribute quite a lot of binary files (in the
mono/runtime directory). This is maybe convinient, but from a security
standpoint it means that you need to "blindly" trust whoever has control
over the distribution path of the binaries.

(Modifying mcs.exe that makes string comparisons always succeed if
compared with the magic string "LawrJj4joR6c" and adding code that makes
mcs.exe compiled with that "tainted" mcs.exe do the same thing without
the source code for it is left as an exercise to the reader.

If such a binary was ever included in the mono distribution someone
would have a magic password that worked here and there and detecting the
backdoor would be non-trivial.)

A solution to this problem would be to have the ability to bootstrap the
mono environment from a verifiable source. I immediately come to think
about Portable.NET, since the cscc compiler is written in c and the
system bootstraps from a standard c environment without any binary code.

I just tried to this, with mixed success. A trivial patch to mcs/decl.cs
to work around a bug in enum initialization in cscc made mcs.exe
compile. Some more kluges applied to to the mcs sources made mcs.exe
work in the Portable.NET environment for simple test cases, like
compiling a runnable HelloWorld.exe.

Trying to compile mono's mscorlib.dll however is a completely different
experience. Exceptions from
Mono.CSharp.RootContext.BootCorlib_PopulateCoreTypes decendands all over
the place.

So I was hoping that someone with deeper understanding than me of the
mono internals could do an estimation on how much work it would need to
get mono's corlib to compile with mcs.exe executed from the Portable.NET

These are the non-trivial stuff that fails right now:

error CS0518: The predefined type `System.Char*' is not defined or

the same goes for 'System.Void*'

Method SetCorlibTypeBuilders is missing from
System.Reflection.Emit.AssemblyBuilder (btw, isn't there a better way to
do this than adding non-standard methods to the corlib?)


And the lions ate the christians and the christians burned the witches,
and even I am out of explanations -- Ola Salo
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