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Deterministic OS X Dmg Notes.
Working OS X DMGs are created in Linux by combining a recent clang,
the Apple binutils (ld, ar, etc) and DMG authoring tools.
Apple uses clang extensively for development and has upstreamed the necessary
functionality so that a vanilla clang can take advantage. It supports the use
of -F, -target, -mmacosx-version-min, and --sysroot, which are all necessary
when building for OS X.
Apple's version of binutils (called cctools) contains lots of functionality
missing in the FSF's binutils. In addition to extra linker options for
frameworks and sysroots, several other tools are needed as well such as
install_name_tool, lipo, and nmedit. These do not build under linux, so they
have been patched to do so. The work here was used as a starting point:
In order to build a working toolchain, the following source packages are needed
from Apple: cctools, dyld, and ld64.
These tools inject timestamps by default, which produce non-deterministic
binaries. The ZERO_AR_DATE environment variable is used to disable that.
This version of cctools has been patched to use the current version of clang's
headers and its rather than those from llvmgcc, as it was
originally done in toolchain4.
To complicate things further, all builds must target an Apple SDK. These SDKs
are free to download, but not redistributable.
To obtain it, register for a developer account, then download the [Xcode 7.3.1 dmg](
This file is several gigabytes in size, but only a single directory inside is
Unfortunately, the usual linux tools (7zip, hpmount, loopback mount) are incapable of opening this file.
To create a tarball suitable for Gitian input, there are two options:
Using Mac OS X, you can mount the dmg, and then create it with:
$ hdiutil attach Xcode_7.3.1.dmg
$ tar -C /Volumes/Xcode/ -czf MacOSX10.11.sdk.tar.gz MacOSX10.11.sdk
Alternatively, you can use 7zip and SleuthKit to extract the files one by one.
The script contrib/macdeploy/ automates this. First ensure
the dmg file is in the current directory, and then run the script. You may wish
to delete the intermediate 5.hfs file and MacOSX10.11.sdk (the directory) when
you've confirmed the extraction succeeded.
apt-get install p7zip-full sleuthkit
rm -rf 5.hfs MacOSX10.11.sdk
The Gitian descriptors build 2 sets of files: Linux tools, then Apple binaries
which are created using these tools. The build process has been designed to
avoid including the SDK's files in Gitian's outputs. All interim tarballs are
fully deterministic and may be freely redistributed.
genisoimage is used to create the initial DMG. It is not deterministic as-is,
so it has been patched. A system genisoimage will work fine, but it will not
be deterministic because the file-order will change between invocations.
The patch can be seen here: [theuni/osx-cross-depends](
No effort was made to fix this cleanly, so it likely leaks memory badly. But
it's only used for a single invocation, so that's no real concern.
genisoimage cannot compress DMGs, so afterwards, the 'dmg' tool from the
libdmg-hfsplus project is used to compress it. There are several bugs in this
tool and its maintainer has seemingly abandoned the project. It has been forked
and is available (with fixes) here: [theuni/libdmg-hfsplus](
The 'dmg' tool has the ability to create DMGs from scratch as well, but this
functionality is broken. Only the compression feature is currently used.
Ideally, the creation could be fixed and genisoimage would no longer be necessary.
Background images and other features can be added to DMG files by inserting a
.DS_Store before creation. This is generated by the script
As of OS X Mavericks (10.9), using an Apple-blessed key to sign binaries is a
requirement in order to satisfy the new Gatekeeper requirements. Because this
private key cannot be shared, we'll have to be a bit creative in order for the
build process to remain somewhat deterministic. Here's how it works:
- Builders use Gitian to create an unsigned release. This outputs an unsigned
dmg which users may choose to bless and run. It also outputs an unsigned app
structure in the form of a tarball, which also contains all of the tools
that have been previously (deterministically) built in order to create a
final dmg.
- The Apple keyholder uses this unsigned app to create a detached signature,
using the script that is also included there. Detached signatures are available from this [repository](
- Builders feed the unsigned app + detached signature back into Gitian. It
uses the pre-built tools to recombine the pieces into a deterministic dmg.