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Re: autobuilding and embedded timestamps

Daniel Jacobowitz <dan@debian.org>:

> > Finally, might it be a good idea to get rid of embedded timestamps, so
> > that the same source doesn't give a different binary each time it is
> > compiled? The build script for a package could replace the embedded
> > timestamps by the date of the newest source file, for example.
> Perhaps dpkg-deb could do this, but I'd see it as a feature rather than
> a bug - shows you when the package was built...

I've just realised there's a possible misunderstanding here.

I don't call the date of a file in data.tar.gz in a deb an "embedded
timestamp", because the programs that handle debs know how to unpack
the data that far. By an "embedded timestamp" I mean a timestamp that
appears inside one of those files.

In a lot of cases it's because the file is an archive or compressed.
These are the embedded timestamps that a simple tool could get rid of.
In other cases the timestamp is deliberately inserted in a less
standard manner; here it would be necessary to patch the source.

For an example, try strings /sbin/lilo | grep 2000. I think this
misfeature was added to LILO quite recently.

These embedded timestamps do more harm than good, in my opinion.


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