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From Craig L Russell <Craig.Russ...@Sun.COM>
Subject Re: Signing Java Jars, versus Apache Signing of distributed artifacts
Date Mon, 20 Aug 2007 16:04:46 GMT
Hi Marshall,

When I looked into Java signing and found it to be too burdensome.  
There are two basic issues with it that made me think that it wasn't  
suitable for use with Apache projects:

1. The certificates are the keys to the kingdom. Whoever has the  
ability to use the certificates warrants the contents of the jar, so  
the certificates need to be kept secret. It's not practical for  
Apache projects to have secrets like this, so each individual would  
need their own certificate.

2. The runtime cost of checking the certificate every time the jar is  

Just my opinion,


On Aug 20, 2007, at 8:54 AM, Marshall Schor wrote:

> I'm no expert in signing, but am looking into alternatives.  This  
> is what I've found, so far.
> Apache projects sign their distributable artifacts; see http:// 
> For artifacts which are Jars, there is another standard for signing  
> which is supported by Java itself, in that the signed Jar can be  
> "verified" when loaded.  This kind of signing
> requires, besides the "private key", a "certificate
> authority" which  indicates who owns the key.  See http:// 
> Apache signing, to my knowledge, doesn't require use of a  
> certificate authority.
> In looking at several projects placing Jars in Maven repositories,  
> they appear to be signing
> Jars using the Apache signing, not the Java Jar signing mechanism.   
> Maven (I believe)
> supports this.
> Eclipse, as of release 3.3 (just out), has moved to a posture of  
> signing all of its Jars using the Java mechanisms, see http:// 
> There are some issues to signing Jars with Java's approach - in  
> terms of performance impacts.  These are documented here: http:// 
> Performance_Bloopers#JAR_signing_and_verification
> Eclipse avoids these performance impacts by not using the popular  
> Java class loaders
> built on the URLClassLoader.
> I'd be interested to learn if others have gone down the Java JAR  
> signing path, and if so,
>  - is it considered an OK alternative to Apache signing,
>  - how did you get a certificate authority to verify ownership of  
> your signing key
>  - how did you avoid performance issues
> If not - does anyone know if the Eclipse update site mechanism  
> supports the Apache-style signing mechanism, or can be made to  
> support this?  (The Eclipse update site mechanism checks if the  
> artifacts have been signed, and if so, verifies them, prior to  
> installing them.  But I believe it only works with Java JAR signed  
> objects - but I could be mistaken).
> Thanks for any guidance / experiences.
> -Marshall Schor (Apache UIMA project)
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Craig Russell
Architect, Sun Java Enterprise System
408 276-5638
P.S. A good JDO? O, Gasp!

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