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[cross-project-issues-dev] Notice of change to batch "signing service"

I wanted to let everyone know that "we" are changing the version of Java's pack200 at the infrastructure service I call "batch signer".  (Bug 463510)
It was using Java 6 level of pack200, and we have moved to the Java 8 level of pack200.

This command is described at

This does not directly impact Tycho users or Buckminster users (which do their own re-pack and pack, based on the VM the build is running, I assume) but might effect PDE users, which traditionally have used this service to "re-pack" (condition) and sign jars -- and, then at some short later time are "packed".  At that "some later time", it is the release engineers responsibility to use the same version to 'pack' as was used to 'repack'.

While no direct impact to Tycho or Buckminster builders, the principles and consequences of moving from one level (Java 6) to another (Java 8) apply with any builder, so the following points may be useful information to all.

If you have "old byte codes", or, even new ones, compiled at the Java 4, Java 5, or Java 6 level, you *might* find some of those bytes codes no longer survive the "re-pack", sign, and "pack" process (where as maybe the would survived, when using Java 6 to run your build (and hence your repack/pack). That is, if user tries to download the pack.gz file, and unpack into a normal jar, it may be reported to have in "invalid signature" or in some other way "broken".

In my experience, with Orbit jars, the "error rate" is about 1.7%. Others, for some unknown reason, see higher rates (such as 20-30%?) . Some of these cases *might* be bugs in the pack/unpack programs, but it's just as likely that there are "bugs" (fringe cases) where the byte codes for lower levels of Java are not quite "right".  All I know for sure: it has never been perfect.

But, luckily, easy to solve.
All three builders (PDE, Tycho, and Buckminster) allow you to specify an 'eclipse.inf' file in the META-INF directory, with a directive (line) that is:

Thus, that one problematic jar is not packed, but is still signed.

So important point 1: be sure you "pack200" with the same version you used to do "repack" (if the builder doesn't do it for you automatically).
Important point 2: I wouldn't recommend studying the byte codes and trying to find a pattern of code that is the cause (unless you just happen to love byte codes), ... just slap in an eclipse.inf file and move on to more important things.
Important point 3: You should not, ever never, "re-sign" and certainly not re-pack or pack200 a jar that has already been signed or processed by pack200. That pretty much guarantees the jar will be broken. In more ways than one. (Bug 461669)  

The reason for making this move, now, is that it is best to "keep up" with what our users are using, and, with versions of Java that are expected to stay in service for a while ... otherwise, we might have to monkey around with this during a service release, which is less than ideal.

* Bonus, for reading this far in my wordy note: Why jump two levels, from 6 to 8, why not move to Java 7 first? Well it turns out, at the moment, the versions of pack200 and unpack200 that ship with Java 7 and Java 8 are exactly the same. But, the advantage is, in some service release, there might be a new version and we'd pick it up automatically, as long as we use /shared/common/jdk1.8.0_x86-latest consistently.  Double bonus: remember that pack200 and unpack200 have little to do with Java source code they are stand-alone executables, written in C-code, that simply manipulate byte codes. Which is how p2 can let you specify any version of pack200 you want, no mater which version of Java you are using.

Naturally, feel free to comment in Bug 463510 if any questions or concrete problems known.

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