Pete Zaitcev (zaitcev) wrote,
Pete Zaitcev
zaitcev

PyPI is not trustworthy

I was dealing with a codebase S at work that uses a certain Python package N (I'll name it in the end, because its identity is so odious that it will distract from the topic at hand). Anyhow, S failed tests because N didn't work on my Fedora 35. That happened because S installed N with pip(1), which pulls from PyPI, and the archive at PyPI contained broken code.

The code for N in its source repository was fine, only PyPI was bad.

When I tried to find out what happened, it turned out that there is no audit trail for the code in PyPI. In addition, it is not possible to contact listed maintainers of N in PyPI, and there is no way to report the problem: the problem tracking system of PyPI is all plastered with warnings not to use it for problems with packages, but only with PyPI software itself.

By fuzzy-matching provided personal details with git logs, I was able to contact the maintainers. To my great surprise, two out of three even responded, but they disclaimed any knowledge of what went on.

So, an unknown entity was able to insert a certain code into a package at PyPI, and pip(1) was downloading it for years. This only came to light because the inserted code failed on my Fedora test box.

At this point I can only conclude that PyPI is not trustworthy.

Oh, yeah. The package N is actually nose. I am aware that it was dead and unmaintained, and nobody should be using it anymore, least of all S. I'm working on it.

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