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Re: webapps in stable release cyles Was: flashplugin-nonfree in Debian

Le Wednesday 22 April 2009 18:52:48 Raphael Geissert, vous avez écrit :
> > I gave this example precisely because mediawiki upstream release
> > management is one of the most serious I know in webapps. And even though
> > they fix issues with care, and their code is surely very good, then this
> > ends up with *huge* security patches.
> >
> > Or, are you claiming that we should rewrite mediawiki ?
> The issue was mostly caused by a design error (or should I say "because it
> was not quite the best design" so that it doesn't sound too rough? and no,
> I don't and won't claim that my software designs are good or the best; just
> in case somebody wanted to troll.)
> Just because there are a set of big patches it doesn't mean that the app
> should be rewritten (or parts of it, I should have said on my first email.)
> I was thinking more about wordpress when I wrote that part; because IMHO
> that's the best that could happen to it.
> On mediawiki's case there's a huge advantage, because like you said, it is
> well supported and it is developed seriously (at least compared to the vast
> majority of PHP apps), and patches are available quickly, which is hard or
> even impossible to accomplish on an app where fixing one bug exposes four
> more.

Well, I am sorry if I hurted you. The matter is that I do not believe it is a correct 
answer to point fingers at various developpers and claim they are not doing the 
thing right. It is always better when it comes with a concrete argument.

Idealy, I would like as you that things are done the right way. However, my 
experience and, as I can see from the proposal, the one of others contradict this 

Pragmatically speaking, requiring the same workflow for fixing security fixes and
 producing uploads for webapps is rather different than for other type of software.

I you want to show that the fault has to be put on the upstream maintenance of 
the packagers, then you better come with a real explanation of how they should 
do it and not only general ideas about the way it should be done.. 

That is why I showed the example of mediawiki. The security issue was basically a 
wrong handling of MIME types in internet explorer.

As you said, the upstream maintainers did some input sanitizing cleanups. However, 
this ended whith a *whole* new class for fixing this, plus all the required changes to
make it work, which apparently spread into a lot of various classes and cases.

The full patch can be seen here:

Now, to me this has not much to do with what we characterize as "security patches". 
It is indeed very hard, if not impossible to check wether this will have undesirable 
side effects, or is minimal.

However, I fail to see how this could have been done otherwise, and I feel that pretending 
this is a minimal security update is somehow not very different than simply upgrading to 
the latest upstream release, considering the size of the patch...


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