Can your diff(1) do this?! Improving software review & QA with diffoscope

Presented by Chris Lamb
Wednesday 3:50 p.m.–4:35 p.m. in Guthrie Theatre CB06.03.28
Target audience: User


In an age increasingly concerned with reducing bugs as well as complying with free software licenses, it is vitally important to thoroughly review audit any changes to the software that powers our technology and infrastructure. However, existing tools to perform comparisons between two versions of a software package are overly-blunt instruments, either providing too much output or none at all. Binaries such as firmware images or precompiled executables are especially problematic: a single change in the source is presented as a meaningless stream of changes, offering no insight into potentially critical bugs. And these are often precisely the files we care most about…! Diffoscope is different. Developed as part of the Reproducible Builds effort, it gets to the bottom of what makes files truly different. It recursively unpacks archives of all kinds and transforms various formats into human-readable forms for display. It can compare two tarballs, ISO images, PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, etc. just as easily. This talk explains the varied and practical usages of diffoscope and how this flexible "diff on steroids" is a long-overdue & fun tool for anyone writing or releasing software today.

Presented by

Chris Lamb

Currently Debian Project Leader, Chris is freelance computer programmer, author of dozens of free projects and contributor to 100s of others. Chris has been official Debian Developer since 2008 and is currently highly active in the Reproducible Builds sub-project for which he has been awarded a grant from the Linux Foundation's Core Infrastructure Initiative. In his spare time he is an avid classical musician and Ironman triathlete. Chris has spoken at numerous conferences, including LinuxCon China, HKOSCon,, DjangoCon Europe, OSCAL, Software Freedom Kosovo and FOSS'ASIA.