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[p2-dev] Making p2 deal with (PGP?) signatures for artifacts in metadata

Hi all,

With recent improvements in Tycho and PDE to easily consume external artifacts from Maven Central or other Maven repo and additions in m2e to include BND bundles, a new issue has emerged: SimRel currently mandates that contributed artifacts are signed with the Eclipse Foundation certificates and jarsigner. While this is easy for pure Eclipse bundle, it's trickier for "imported" artifacts as signing them means we alter the artifacts, so they're not the upstream artifacts any more, so Bundle-Vendor and artifactId have to be changed and so on, leading to quite some difficulties and risk of collisions of official vs altered bundles.
Although it's not confirmed yet, the important reason why SimRel mandates signing is that it is expected that the warning popup shows up for unsigned content, to inform users about potential unsecure content.

We're brainstorming about other approaches to signing bundles, that would not involve modifying the artifact in order to sign it.
What Maven Central current mandates is that the artifacts are signed (using PGP) and that signature files are pushed together with the artifact. The signatures are verified when pushing to the Central repository, and -on demand- by people who download content from this repository. The repository hosts the signing info and doesn't put that inside the artifact file. I think it would be a good fit for our current needs in the Eclipse ecosystem.

As I currently imagine, p2 could host the signature information for artifacts in its metadata. And at installation, p2 would verify the signatures similarly to how it verifies checksums and would make installation fail is artifact isn't the one that was signed in the metadata.
This signature informations could ideally handle different signature verifications. For example it could be a property on an artifact `sign=Eclipse Foundation;jarsigner` for current way of signing inside artifact or `sign=Eclipse Foundation;gpg;<GPG_SIGN>` if signing was implemented as GPG.
For SimRel, I think we can expect metadata to be reliable enough as they're always provided by Eclipse projects from domain, which is accessed via HTTPS.
As a bonus, with those signature informations in metadata, it would become even possible, to eg show owners of the signature to users before artifacts get actually donwloaded.

As I said, all this is currently brainstorming, explorative work, nothing is planned at all. So as every brainstorming, additional ideas or criticism are really welcome and even necessary! Mainly, I'm curious about feedback on whether this seems useful, doable and if this topic was already explored in the past.

Thanks in advance

Mickael Istria
Eclipse IDE developer, for Red Hat Developers

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