Non-deterministic package IDs are really bad in 7.10

Mateusz Kowalczyk fuuzetsu at
Sun May 10 18:39:18 UTC 2015


I'd like to bring some attention to ticket #4012 about non-determinism.
As many of you may know, the nix package manager distributes binaries
throughout its binary caches. The binaries are shared as long as the
hash of some of their inputs matches: this means that we can end up with
two of the same hashes of inputs but thanks to #4012 means that the
actual contents can differ. You end up with machines with some packages
built locally and some elsewhere and due to non-determinism, the GHC
package IDs don't line up and everything is broken.

The situation was pretty bad in 7.8.4 in presence of parallel builds so
we switched those off. Joachim's
a477e8118137b7483d0a7680c1fd337a007a023b helped a great deal there and
we were hopeful for 7.10. Now that 7.10.1 is out and people have been
using and testing it, the situation turns out to be really bad: daily we
get multiple reports from people about their packages ending up broken
and our only advice is to do what we did back in 7.8 days which is to
purge GHC and rebuild everything locally or fetch everything from a
machine that already built it all, as long as the two don't mix. This is
not really acceptable.

See comment 76 on #4012 for an example of a rather simple file you can
compile right now with nothing extra but -O and get different interface

This e-mail is just to raise awareness that there is a serious problem.
If people are thinking about cutting 7.10.2 or whatever, I would
consider part of this ticket to be a blocker as it makes using GHC
reliably while benefitting from binary caches pretty much impossible.

Of course there's the ‘why don't you fix it yourself’ question. I
certainly plan to but do not have time for a couple more weeks to do so.
For all I know right now, the fix to comment 76 might be easy and
someone looking for something to hack on might have the time to get to
it before I do.

Mateusz K.

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