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Variable reference tracking and metadata signature generation for the OpenEmbedded & BitBake projects
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OE Signatures

This repository holds code which revamps the way variables are expanded, in order to add variable reference tracking. This tracking includes direct references, as well as getVar calls from python code, shell function executions of other shell functions, and so on.

There are multiple purposes to this, but the most immediate is to implement intelligent signature/hash generation of the metadata (or chunks of the metadata). This is necessary in order to provide sane binary caching support, and in the future, will allow bitbake to move away from the "stamp" concept entirely, instead relying on tracking of the input and output of tasks, and the pieces of the metadata they use.

Beyond signature generation, we should be able to leverage this to allow us to avoid reparsing recipes when configuration files change, as we can more intelligently dirty the cached variable expansions with this knowledge.

Recommendations for Exception Handling

  • When using a RefTracker or calling the convenience functions in reftracker, catch SyntaxError, ShellSyntaxError, and RecursionError.
  • When resolving (or converting to a string), catch RecursionError, SyntaxError, and PythonExpansionError.


  • Values and Reference Tracking

    • Potentially resurrect the inclusion of the list of nodes in the cycle in a RecursionError
  • Signatures

    • Consider how to avoid inclusion of particular items from OVERRIDES in the signature, by determining which of those overrides have actually applied to this metadata. We should be able to do this entirely in the metadata. We can have an anonymous python function or event handler determine the following, then add MACHINE to BB_HASH_BLACKLIST as appropriate if none of the below have occurred.

      • Determine if any override specific variables have been set
      • Determine if any override specific appends/prepends have occurred
      • Determine if any override specific file:// files will be used
    • We need a way to handle variable references from code in the bb and oe python packages. Either we try to read in the .py files, compile to an ast, and analyze the functions from those that we call, or we need to set the necessary varrefs explicitly. And if we set it explicitly, either we need to set it for every variable that calls the function, or we need to store, somewhere, a mapping of bb/oe function to a list of additional varrefs.

  • Pysh

    • Handle the 'rogue dollar sign' case in shell more sanely. Most shells seem just fine with 'install -d ${D}$', as the trailing $ ends up a part of the filename. pysh chokes on it, however, since it's expecting to see the remainder of a ${} expansion.
    • Fix the AND-OR async issue in a way that can go upstream.
  • BitBake Integration

    • Store methodpool functions in the metadata.
    • Add a method or methods to DataSmart which pull information about variables using the RefTracker.
    • Add a function similar to RP's emit_func, which leverages our shell parsing to get just the 'execs' for a function, to determine what other shell functions need to be emitted. This is a good initial step, as it will not require full usage of the 'varrefs' flags in the metadata, the way the bitbake variable reference tracking does.

    • Alter DataSmart to know about bbvalue objects

      • Cache both the expanded value and the RefTracker data for variables.
      • Utilize the references information to more intelligently dirty cached information.
      • getVar must hand back a new copy of a bbvalue object bound to self, if we've retrieved an object from a previous datastore in the stack
      • Determine a good API for the retrieval of RefTracker data from the metadata -- we could simply add methods which are the same as the convenience functions in, or we could add a single method which returns a RefTracker object, or we could add faux flags (RP's idea).
    • Determine how to avoid reparsing recipes when a change occurs to a configuration file

      • Create a store which associates each bitbake file to the metadata object it's associated with, potentially as a list in parse order
      • Adjust VariableRef to always operate based upon the "current" metadata, potentially by using the last item in the file<->metadata mapping store
      • Alter getVar so instead of attempting to return a "copy" (from the Copy-On-Write implementation) of the bbvalue object, it instead returns a new bbvalue object which contains the old one. The new one would be associated with the current metadata, but the old still associated with the old
  • Performance

    • Check the memory impact of potentially using Value objects rather than the strings in the datastore.
    • In addition to caching/memoization, once we add dirty state tracking, it'd be possible to pre-generate the expanded version, to reduce the amount of work at str/getVar time.

Known Issues / Concerns

  • It has to expand the shell and python code in order to scan it to extract the variable reference information. In some cases, this means the expansion may be occurring sooner than it would normally expect to happen. As an example, a variable which runs a function in a ${@} snippet that reads from a file in staging -- this will not be happy if expanded before the task is actually to be run. It may be that we'll want to avoid this sort of thing, as it also causes problems with bitbake -e.
  • Currently it pays zero attention to flags, as flags generally instruct bitbake in how to make something happen, not what will happen, for a given task.

  • ShellValue

    • The variables which are flagged as 'export' are added to the references for the ShellValue at object creation time currently. In addition, the external command executions are filtered based on the available shell functions defined in the metadata. This will be an issue if we start constructing value objects in the AST as the statements are evaluated, due to the order of operations. Either references should become a property for ShellValue which adds the current exports to the internally held references, or we'll have to add the current exports in the finalize step or something.
    • The shell code which identifies defined functions and excludes them from the list of executed commands does not take into account context. If one defined a function in a subshell, it would still exclude it from the list.
    • Cannot currently determine what variable (if a variable) is being referenced if it's a shell variable expansion. As an example: 'for x in 1 2 3; eval $x; done'
  • PythonValue

    • Cannot determine what variable is being referenced when the argument to the getVar is not a literal string. As an example, '"RDEPENDS_" + pkg' bites us.
    • Does not exclude locally imported functions from the list of executed functions. If you run 'from collections import defaultdict', and run defaultdict, it will include defaultdict in the list of executed functions. We should check for those import statements.
    • It captures a list of functions which are executed directly (that is, they're names, not attributes), but does not exclude functions which are actually defined in this same block of code. We should try to do so, though it will be difficult to be full proof without taking into account contexts.
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