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Volatile inputs can disappear

Inputs from the network—even if it doesn’t seem like it—are volatile. It’s best to make a build system not rely on remote data.

If it must be the case, then:

  1. ensure integrity using cryptographic checksums,
  2. keep backups.

Ideally, a fallback location should be available with the backups.

A good example is how the FreeBSD ports work. Port descriptions contain a list of MASTER_SITES, a list of files to be retrieved in DISTFILES, and a distinfo file with cryptographic checksums for each of these files. The FreeBSD infrastructure ensures that a copy of all distfiles are kept available on a mirror network. When building a port, the files will be downloaded from there if the original master site is unreachable.

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