Making cabal-install SSL capable

Michael Snoyman michael at
Wed Apr 29 07:52:15 UTC 2015

On Wed, Apr 29, 2015 at 10:00 AM Herbert Valerio Riedel <hvriedel at>

> On 2015-04-28 at 18:13:47 +0200, Michael Snoyman wrote:
> [...]
> > Your analysis is accurate. There are some interesting approaches we could
> > take to further mitigate things. For example: newer versions of
> > cabal-install could automatically set an incorrect username/password in
> the
> > ~/.cabal/config file, and create a new set of fields
> > (ssl-username/ssl-password?) that it would recognize.
> Now that you mention that; the typical default config entry looks like:
>   remote-repo:
> For a TLS-capable cabal-install (for which I'll assume it'll use
> digest-auth), I'd suggest (as a strawman proposal -
> so please criticize!) that it
>  a) when creating a default-config, write
>     remote-repo:
>  b) if a cabal upload operation is performed,
>       1) if remote-repo points to a http:// url, Warn the user in a
>          visible scary way that can't easily be ignored that he/she
>          should switch to a https:// url; however,
>          proceed w/ the requested operation using digest-auth
>       2) if remote-repo points to a https:// url, operate w/o warning
>          (could use basic-auth instead of digest-auth, if we wanted to
>          avoid an additional round-trip at the HTTP-layer)
>  c) for non-authorised operations, emit less-scary warnings as a
>     friendly reminder to update the repo-url to a https:// capable one
> So once a the cabal-config file points to a https://,  url, the risk of
> older non-TLS-capable cabal-installs leaking credentials via unencrypted
> HTTP would be solved (at the expense of older cabal-install versions not
> being able to communicate via https:// urls at all...)
> Cheers,
>   hvr

I'd probably be more aggressive, and simply rewrite the cabal.config for
users (with a message) to change http://hackage... to https://hackage. But
I'm OK with just give a bunch of warnings to encourage the user to do it
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