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Add an "airplane" flag to Cargo, altering it's dependency resolution behavior #4686

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alexcrichton opened this issue Oct 31, 2017 · 53 comments
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@alexcrichton
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@alexcrichton alexcrichton commented Oct 31, 2017

The topic of "offline" Cargo has come up quite a few times historically and with the advent this reddit post it got the @rust-lang/cargo team thinking about this problem again and how we might solve it. The discussion got a little sprawled but this issue is intended to be the distillation of the core feature required to allow Cargo to work easier with offline-like situations.

As some background, this issue is intended to be useful in situations such as when you're on an airplane, subway, or tooling situation where you don't want to do extraneous network requests. In these situations Cargo's default behavior, updating the crates.io index, can often fail. Furthermore why Cargo updates the index is often subtle and opaque, causing quite a bit of frustration when users don't expect network traffic to happen and then it does!

An example situation that we'd like to enable is when you work with Rust on a day-to-day basis, perhaps with a good number of Cargo projects. In this case you've got a global crate cache in $HOME/.cargo/registry likely with a relatively-up-to-date index and a semi-populated crate cache. This means that if you were to get on a plane and then want to start a similar project, namely you'll share dependencies with crates you've previously worked on, in theory all the data is there for Cargo to consume. Today, however, any project missing a lock file will attempt to update the registry, failing in "airplane" situations.

The key insight behind this issue is that this flag will change Cargo's crate graph resolution behavior. Namely Cargo will generate a different Cargo.lock depending on whether this flag is passed or not. The purpose of this is to ensure that Cargo's default behavior today (which is desirable in many situations) doesn't get affected too much with this situation.

With all that in mind I believe the steps for implementing this would look similar to as followed (although perhaps not exhaustively):

  • First, you'll add a new unstable feature to Cargo. That's done around here and you'll probaby want to call it something like airplane. This means that your flag will be activated with something like cargo build -Z airplane
  • You'll be accessing the list of unstable features through Config::cli_unstable. The Config structure is ubiquitous throughout Cargo and is in general intended to house CLI configuration or other global concerns in Cargo.
  • Airplane mode will sort of enable "frozen mode" which is where Cargo is disallowed from talking to the internet. We want to be sure that if Cargo accidentally tries to hit the internet a loud warning happens, and otherwise the rest of the support below will be to prevent Cargo from trying to hit the network. To do this you'll want to update the network_allowed method.
  • Most of the rest of the code will go in sources/registry. This module contains all the support necessary for using a registry (crates.io) as a remote (aka you'll download things).

At this point is where the work will likely start. The general idea of how this will be implemented is that the behavior of the Registry "source" (aka an implementation of the Source trait) will differ depending on whether -Z airplane is passed. Ideally this flag isn't too too intrusive throughout Cargo so we'll ideally want a pretty localized implementation.

The first part that we'll tackle is the update_index method. This will want to immediately return Ok if the airplane mode is activated. This will prevent an index update from happening in airplane mode, even when Cargo would otherwise request it (for example a lock file is missing or a dependency was added).

Next up Cargo will need to change its view of the index in airplane mode. We know that we won't be able to download any packages as the network isn't available, so we need to ensure that Cargo's crate graph resolver never asks to download something. The way the crate graph resolver works is through the Registry trait, mostly the query method. This method takes a Dependency (basically a name and semver requirement) and then invokes the callback with all possible "summaries" (aka packages) that the source has.

When we're in airplane mode the number of possible summaries is far less than when we're not in airplane mode (we can't download things!). This means that we're going to want to filter the list of summaries that the crates.io registry is reported to have to be just those we've downloaded to our local computer. To do this you'll probably want to update the load_summaries method.

In load_summaries we'll query the underlying index implementation (the remote.rs modified before) for all possible versions of a crate. The lines iterator in this block will be an iterator over each line of a file in the index (browsable at https://github.com/rust-lang/crates.io-index). Each line in this index is parsed and then pushed onto a local list of summaries. What we'll want to do is apply another filter on top of this. If the summary isn't downloaded to the local computer then we'll want to skip it.

In other words, the index will report, for example, that we could use libc 0.1.4 or libc 0.2.0. If we only have libc 0.2.0 then we'll want to report back that only libc 0.2.0 is available, whereas if the airplane flag were not passed we'd report both 0.1.4 and 0.2.0 as being available. To do this you'll probably want to add a method to the RegistryData trait like is_crate_downloaded(&self, id: &PackageId) and the function would look something like this, testing if the .crate file exists.

At this point the airplane flag should (a) avoid updating the index even if asked and (b) ensure that we never ask to download a crate that's not already downloaded. At this point I believe the feature should be effectively done! You should be able to write some tests, play around with it locally, etc, and see it all working.

There are, however, a number of extensions that will be required for stabilization, so I'll write those down as well:

Git repositories

In addition to crates.io we'll want to handle git repositories and the airplane flag as well. This one may be a bit easier where basically what we want to do is to ensure Cargo is guided towards not asking for a network update by altering the behavior of a git source.

Git repositories in Cargo are modeled in two locations. Each git source has a "database" which is a bare git checkout in ~/.cargo/git/db. This database is basically just a store of all fetched objects from the remote. Checkouts then happen at ~/.cargo/git/checkouts. Each checkout is permanently cached and looks like ~/.cargo/git/checkouts/$name-$hash/$sha.

With that in mind airplane mode for git repositories would at a high level just avoid updating the database and then otherwise the checkout would be cloned from the database as usual. I think that most of this will just fall out of updating this if branch.

Note that right now any git repository with submodules won't work. We currently don't clone submodules from the global database but instead re-clone each submodule from the network on all checkouts. Once we fix that bug (fetch all submodules to the database, then clone from there onto the disk) then it should also "just work"!

Recommend the "airplane flag"

If you're on an airplane and are unaware of the airplane flag then it would be quite nice to teach you about it! This means that when the resolution process fails with something that looks like a network error we probably want to tweak the error message with a "did you mean" style hint. The idea here is that if you're on a plane and type cargo build then Cargo should ideally say "you should try using -Z airplane".

I think the way we'll probably want to do this is to test for spurious network errors whenever we update a source. If it looks like a spurious network error going out then we can probably attach on some context saying "this may work if you instead pass -Z airplane" or something like that.

You probably want to test this out by disconnecting your network and seeing what the error looks like.

Resolution errors

One of the primary failure modes of the "airplane flag" is that you added a dependency which wasn't previously cached or otherwise the local state of the index/crate cache isn't able to build a crate. This may happen because we're not updating the index (new crates/versions aren't available) or because we're filtering the return value of load_summaries on the registries (not all entries in the on-disk index would have been downloaded).

In any case we want to make sure that intentional or accidental use of the -Z airplane flag doesn't cause too obscure errors. Right now Cargo has pretty bad crate graph resolution errors, unfortunately.

The failure mode here is likely to come out of resolution, not querying for crates. This means that the error is generated in this module which is one of the gnarliest modules in Cargo. You may want to skim it, but I think the main location to modify is this one which is the main source for generating resolution errors.

The error here should basically say something along the lines of "crate resolution failed, we see you're passing -Z airplane and it may be failing because of that"

Failing cargo update

Similarly to weird resolution errors a cargo update is basically guaranteed to not work. We should bail out of updating as early as we can if you invoke cargo update -Z airplane.

Populating the global cache

Right now Cargo has no explicit way of populating the global cache. That means this is currently only catering to the use case of "I develop Rust locally and hence have a pretty populated global cache". This isn't, however, catering to the case where you're trying out a dependency for the first time on a plane.

We'll eventually want a subcommand which downloads crates and probably their transitive dependencies, as well as explicitly updates the index. The design here is a little unclear, but if you have ideas please let us know!

@Ophirr33
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@Ophirr33 Ophirr33 commented Oct 31, 2017

I'll jump on this! Thank you for the awesome write up

@joshtriplett
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@joshtriplett joshtriplett commented Oct 31, 2017

@alexcrichton Thank you for an absolutely incredible guide for potential contributors! This exactly describes the behavior I'd like in every way.

@hobofan
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@hobofan hobofan commented Oct 31, 2017

Glad to see this topic getting some attention!

I left a comment in the mentioned reddit thread regarding IPFS support in Cargo. I personally think that IPFS can be a great tool to tackle offline-like scenarios, though I didn't pursue upstreaming it since it is pretty niche, though there seems to be some interest for that.

Would the Cargo team be interested in having such futures integrated into Cargo itself, or would it be preferable to keep that as outside tools due tue their experimental nature (which I would fully understand)?

I'd be interested in working on the "Populating the global cache" part, and maybe go a step further there and also allow populating the cache from other sources, e.g. a supplied tarball, which I think could be a good way to interface with IPFS-like tools.

@SimonSapin
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@SimonSapin SimonSapin commented Oct 31, 2017

Rather than or in addition to this flag, could carrying on with an out-of-date index be the default behavior when the network request to update it fails?

@alexcrichton
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@alexcrichton alexcrichton commented Oct 31, 2017

@Ophirr33 awesome! Let me know if you need any help!

@hobofan interesting! We haven't discussed much in Cargo about adding new kinds of sources (e.g. mercurial, subversion, ipfs as you're adding, etc). Unfortunately that sort of feature isn't easily addable to Cargo (unlike subcommands) as the sources implementation is pretty intrusive. I'd be interested to learn more about this but we may wish to discuss that on a separate issue perhaps?

@SimonSapin ah yes that's sort of what I was alluding to with:

The purpose of this is to ensure that Cargo's default behavior today (which is desirable in many situations) doesn't get affected too much with this situation.

In that the behavior today is quite intentional, returning an error when the network fails. Silently falling back to different resolution behaviors can crop up as often quite subtle "bugs" which would likely inundate us with bug reports. This feature, as you can probably tell, is not a minor feature as well and will take some time to get right. We'll have to see what the error messages look like and make sure they're adequate before stabilizing this feature.

@SimonSapin
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@SimonSapin SimonSapin commented Oct 31, 2017

@alexcrichton What I’m proposing (whether or it’s the default) seems like it would be a much smaller feature: accept to work with an out of date index. That’s it. Resolution might still select a crate version that’s not in cache, and trying to fetch that might fail. The user can then opt into a different (likely earlier) version with cargo update --precise based on looking at ls ~/.cargo/registry/src/*. Or not, if connectivity is not entirely unavailable but merely slow and unreliable (high packet loss). Maybe call this train mode?

This would not be as convenient as a "full" airplane/offline mode, but it would already help unblock situations where the only failure is Cargo refusing to work with a minutes-old index.

@SimonSapin
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@SimonSapin SimonSapin commented Oct 31, 2017

Cargo's default behavior today (which is desirable in many situations)

I assume that what’s desirable is the resolution algorithm, not index update failure being fatal.

@oconnor663
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@oconnor663 oconnor663 commented Oct 31, 2017

@SimonSapin I'm not sure what the exact rules are internally, but it seems like one of the current invariants is "if you do a cargo build in a clean repo, you get the same result regardless of what's in your ~/.cargo caches." I think that's a really important invariant for production builds.

@SimonSapin
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@SimonSapin SimonSapin commented Oct 31, 2017

Production build should probably have an up-to-date Cargo.lock. But regardless, I can live with "train mode" being opt-in. That’d still be much better than the status quo.

@joshtriplett
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@joshtriplett joshtriplett commented Oct 31, 2017

@SimonSapin

I assume that what’s desirable is the resolution algorithm, not index update failure being fatal.

No, under normal circumstances we do want to stay up to date.

I've had direct real-world experience with the opposite approach, with a package manager that defaults to building with the set of packages and versions that it has already installed (globally, not per-package like cargo), and only updates the global versions when explicitly requested. This has some advantages, but it also means people often build against older versions of their dependencies, so in practice that ecosystem sees less testing and more breakage between the latest versions of packages.

Adding a flag seems good, as does telling the user they might want it; making it happen automatically does not.

@crumblingstatue
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@crumblingstatue crumblingstatue commented Oct 31, 2017

As discussed on reddit and internals, perhaps it should be considered naming this something other than "airplane" mode, as airplane is far from being the only use case for this. I would recommend decoupling the name from a specific use case. If it uses the local cache, maybe name it --use-local-cache or something similar, or simply --offline.

@SimonSapin
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@SimonSapin SimonSapin commented Oct 31, 2017

No, under normal circumstances we do want to stay up to date.

I’m not suggesting not to update the index at all. But how is it good to abort if we can’t right now?


+1 to "offline" over "airplane".

@joshtriplett
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@joshtriplett joshtriplett commented Oct 31, 2017

I do like the idea of calling it "offline" mode. (Though "airplane" might be a good keyword to use in --help, because people have heard of "airplane mode" on devices.)

@joshtriplett
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@joshtriplett joshtriplett commented Oct 31, 2017

@SimonSapin Better than proceeding in a different mode implicitly.

@Ophirr33
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@Ophirr33 Ophirr33 commented Oct 31, 2017

@alexcrichton thoughts on changing the flag from "airplane" to "offline"? I've seen a couple of folks here and on reddit mention it.

@oconnor663
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@oconnor663 oconnor663 commented Oct 31, 2017

Bikeshedding: In a perfect world, it would be nice to have a flag that clearly meant something different from the existing flags --frozen and --locked. Those are about the intent "I've configured things such that this build shouldn't need to use the network, so tell me if I failed to do that." The new flag is more about "even though this build would normally need to talk to the network, figure out a way to make it not do that." Something like --use-local-cache (uncomfortably long, but as an example) does capture that distinction, though --offline is kind of ambiguous between the two. I think this is actually a point in favor of --airplane or something like it -- it's very clear that you don't run cargo test --airplane in your CI scripts :)

@alexcrichton
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@alexcrichton alexcrichton commented Oct 31, 2017

@Ophirr33 either's fine by me! I don't feel too strongly one way or another, we can always continue the bikeshed during stabilization

@Susurrus
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@Susurrus Susurrus commented Nov 1, 2017

What about --no-network?

@strake
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@strake strake commented Nov 1, 2017

I dislike "airplane" for a few reasons:

  • Many flights now allow use of certain ISM bands and have in-flight wi-fi, at least in the USA+Canada
  • Not everyone has been on a commercial passenger aircraft (even in the developed world — for example: i had a TA in university who had never been on one until grad school)
  • Not everyone has a reliable Internet connection on the ground

I think calling it "airplane mode", or referring to airplane mode, in the docs is fine and potentially helpful to users who do know the term.

@jethrogb
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@jethrogb jethrogb commented Nov 1, 2017

Why does it need to be a special mode? Just try to talk to the network, and if that fails, try to do without.

@joshtriplett
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@joshtriplett joshtriplett commented Nov 1, 2017

@jethrogb See, among other things, #4686 (comment) .

@jethrogb
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@jethrogb jethrogb commented Nov 1, 2017

@joshtriplett That seems to be about being offline by default, that's not what I'm suggesting.

Edit: scrolling up a bit, there does seem to be some related discussion. The concern seems to be about silent failures. I still think that just printing a warning message about not being online and proceeding with offline resolution is sufficient.

@joshtriplett
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@joshtriplett joshtriplett commented Nov 1, 2017

@jethrogb Consider scripts, where that warning would go unseen.

(As an alternative to consider, which I'm not advocating, we could have a --online option which forces the non-offline resolution algorithm and fails hard if not online, and then default to "try and fall back". However, I don't think that's a good idea.)

@jethrogb
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@jethrogb jethrogb commented Nov 1, 2017

Any scripts that requires robustness against unexpected behavior should probably be using --locked anyway. If you're not, much worse things could happen than just an unexpected but still correct resolution of dependencies in the face of network failures. I'd be happy to posit that if you didn't pass --locked you're using cargo interactively and you just want "DWIM" behavior.

@withoutboats
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@withoutboats withoutboats commented Nov 1, 2017

The scenario I'm imagining is you have an intermittent network, then you don't get the most recent versions in your lockfile, but when you go to read the docs they have APIs that aren't present in the versions you have. This seems potentially very confusing, and forcing the user into the loop by making them add --offline seems like a good way to mitigate the confusion?

@jethrogb
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@jethrogb jethrogb commented Nov 1, 2017

The scenario where you're looking at documentation of non-existent functionality because you haven't run cargo update in months (this happens to me all the time) seems much more likely to me than the one where you accidentally got a network failure and somehow missed the warning message.

Really, when I run cargo build, I just want cargo to give me something that works, right now. If I cared about specific versions, I would've specified them in my Cargo.toml or the cargo update command line.

@withoutboats
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@withoutboats withoutboats commented Nov 2, 2017

The scenario where you're looking at documentation of non-existent functionality because you haven't run cargo update in months (this happens to me all the time)

I agree that that is also bad and would like to mitigate it somehow, it doesn't seem apropos to the discussion at hand?

somehow missed the warning message.

If the build succeeds it seems probable to me that users will not pay attention to (or possibly even see) the warning message printed prior to all of the "Compiling ..." messages. I don't think its correct to be flippant about this possibility.

@aturon
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@aturon aturon commented Nov 28, 2017

@Ophirr33 just a quick ping on this -- are you still working on it?

@Alex-Addy
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@Alex-Addy Alex-Addy commented Jan 14, 2018

Is this issue closed by #4770?

@alexcrichton
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@alexcrichton alexcrichton commented Jan 15, 2018

@Alex-Addy sort of! I think we'll keep it open as a tracking issue though

@chabapok
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@chabapok chabapok commented Jan 20, 2018

@Alex-Addy #4770 done everything except "Populating the global cache" feature.

@est31
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@est31 est31 commented Jan 20, 2018

For the "populating the global cache" feature, I have implemented my ideas from above. I have sucessfully added the following features:

  • downloading all crates.io crates
  • unpacking all the tar.gz files
  • deduplicating the files
  • storing only one copy of each file together with metadata in a specialized storage

In total this file takes 3.3 GB on my disk now. I haven't used @SimonSapin 's idea of using git nor any of the further optimisations that I thought about... Generally storing diffs is my goal but I couldn't find a diff creation and applying library for my use case beyond bsdiff but that one uses unsafe so I would prefer to not use it.

Now this wonders me: where does this tool fit in? It doesn't just dump everything into the global cache because that would be quite a size requirement (12 GB instead of 3.3 GB). One way of wiring up cargo to it would be to extend cargo-local-serve to match the crates.io API via a localhost http service... it already implements http intended for end users so all I need to do is to imitate the json API. The issue is that currently this means to go all-in meaning that I'd have to ship with my own copy of the registry that is altered to point at localhost as well.

@aidanhs
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@aidanhs aidanhs commented Jan 20, 2018

Just to think out loud on the subject of caches, you could imagine a setting where cargo accepts a list of binaries that represent cache methods, and there is some 'protocol' for communicating with them to 'get' entries (maybe also supports set?). Then it doesn't matter what compressed format your cache is in - cargo just checks each one in turn, and there's not need to worry about registry indexes etc.

@Alex-Addy
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@Alex-Addy Alex-Addy commented Jan 20, 2018

@SimonSapin
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@SimonSapin SimonSapin commented Jan 20, 2018

@est31 While it’s interesting to play with, I don’t think the “download everything” approach is viable long-term. It’s 3.3 GB compressed today for 13k unique packages, but looking at other languages’s repositories it’s plausible that we’ll have 10× that number in a few years. Dozens of gigabytes is still manageable if you really need it, but it’s not something the average Rust developer will want to deal with.

@est31
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@est31 est31 commented Jan 20, 2018

@SimonSapin definitely, a full mirror will get more and more out of reach for the average developer. Similarly, crater runs will grow more and more expensive. Yet we are still doing them and not avoiding them because maybe in 5 years they would become too expensive! We live in the here and now :). As for the future, we should always provide full mirrors for non-average use cases. E.g. if you really want to be off the grid or you need it for your company or similar... Unless we actually want to get fat (e.g. by promoting uploading of binaries like npm is doing it, in my eyes a very misled policy), it will take some time until crates.io gets bigger than a TB.

The technique will always be helpful for downloading some interesting slice of crates.io. "top 100 packages" is far too little to make sense for any developer to use for local development. "top 10k" on the other hand...

We can still attain size reductions, e.g. by changing cargo to upload test data separately. Some of the biggest files uploaded are actually test data.

@SimonSapin
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@SimonSapin SimonSapin commented Jan 20, 2018

I’m not saying there’s no place for full registry downloads, only that they’re probably not a solution to "offline mode cargo" and so this might not be the best thread to discuss them.

@est31
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@est31 est31 commented Jan 20, 2018

@SimonSapin right now full downloads are a very good solution and we can see what to do with them once the ecosystem grows. Then we can also ask people for which purposes they are using "offline mode cargo" for so we can make a more comprehensive assesment.

@luser
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@luser luser commented Jan 22, 2018

When I used cargo-cacher previously so I could work on a plane I was wishing for a download mode that was not-quite-all-of-crates.io. Something like "fetch the newest published version of every crate, and all of their transitive dependencies" would have been pretty useful.

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@stale stale bot commented Sep 17, 2018

As there hasn't been any activity here in over 6 months I've marked this as stale and if no further activity happens for 7 days I will close it.

I'm a bot so this may be in error! If this issue should remain open, could someone (the author, a team member, or any interested party) please comment to that effect?

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@stale stale bot added the stale label Sep 17, 2018
@joshtriplett
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@joshtriplett joshtriplett commented Sep 17, 2018

This is still a feature we need.

The -Z offline flag helps, once it becomes stable. The remaining item is the ability to pre-download crates, such as "all the current versions of crates and all the crates needed to satisfy their dependencies". (Or other filtered sets, such as "top N" or "all crates with at least X downloads".)

@wycats
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@wycats wycats commented Sep 17, 2018

@joshtriplett this is a cool feature! If we do this, we might want the "default set" (top X or whatever) to be in a git repository so that incremental updates are pleasant.

@Alex-Addy
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@Alex-Addy Alex-Addy commented Sep 18, 2018

This is a critical part required for those working in offline or isolated networks. In an isolated network importing the entirety of crates.io is not acceptable due to various security concerns. But individual crates can be imported through review for manual inclusion.

@steakknife
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@steakknife steakknife commented Jan 5, 2019

cargo +nightly -Z offline build works today and updates Cargo.lock offline with local packages without requiring downloading anything.

@sanmai-NL
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@sanmai-NL sanmai-NL commented Apr 5, 2019

@steakknife: Great. What is the relation/interaction with https://github.com/alexcrichton/cargo-vendor?

bors added a commit that referenced this issue May 13, 2019
Stabilize offline mode.

This stabilizes the `--offline` flag as detailed at #5655 (comment). It also adds the `net.offline` config value.

Closes #5655
Closes #4686
@bors bors closed this in #6934 May 13, 2019
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