packs

This tool provides predicates for downloading, installing, upgrading, and uninstalling third-party libraries and applications, generically known as packs. Collections of pack specifications are made available using registries. Registries can be local to a system, publicly shared, or private to a company VPN. There is no concept of a central registry. Users decide which registries they trust and want to use and add them using their published URLs. The tool supports both pack checksums and signatures and takes several steps to sanitize registry and pack specifications. As other Logtalk developer tools, portability is a main goal. This tool can be used with any supported Prolog backend and run in both POSIX and Windows systems. Moreover, this tool can be used not only for handling Logtalk packs but also Prolog only packs, thus providing a solution for sharing portable resources between multiple systems.

A list of public Logtalk and Prolog pack registries is available at:

https://github.com/LogtalkDotOrg/pack-registries

This tool is the beta stage of development.

Requirements

On POSIX systems (Linux, macOS, …), the following shell commands are required:

  • sha256sum (provided by GNU coreutils)

  • curl

  • bsdtar (provided by libarchive or libarchive-tools)

  • gpg (provided by gnupg2)

  • git

The tool uses bsdtar instead of GNU tar so that it can uncompress .zip archives (unzip doesn’t provide the desired options that allows a simple and reliable solution for ignoring the non-predictable name of the wrapper directory).

On Windows systems, the following shell commands are required:

  • certutil.exe

  • curl.exe

  • tar.exe

  • gpg

  • git

In recent Windows 10 builds, only gpg and git should require installation. You can download the GnuPG software from:

https://www.gnupg.org/

You can download Git from:

https://gitforwindows.org

On macOS systems, Apple bundles both curl and BSD tar (under the name tar; you can simply create a bsdtar alias or install a more recent version). The required commands can be easily installed using MacPorts:

$ sudo port install coreutils libarchive gnupg2

Or using Homebrew:

$ brew install coretutils libarchive gnupg2

On Linux systems, use the distribution own package manager to install any missing command.

API documentation

This tool API documentation is available at:

../../docs/library_index.html#packs

Loading

This tool can be loaded using the query:

| ?- logtalk_load(packs(loader)).

Testing

To run the tool tests, use the query:

| ?- logtalk_load(packs(tester)).

The tests can be run without interfering with the user packs setup.

Usage

The packs tool loads at startup all the currently defined registry and pack specifications (from the registries/packs storage directory; see below). When no registry/pack setup exists, a new one is automatically created.

The tool provides two main objects, registries and packs, for handling, respectively, registries and packs. Both objects accept a help/0 message that describes the most common queries.

Registries and packs storage

The tool uses a directory specified using the logtalk_packs library alias when defined (in a settings file or in a backend Prolog initialization file). When this library alias is not defined, the tool uses the value of the LOGTALKPACKS environment variable when defined. Otherwise it defaults to the ~/logtalk_packs directory. The actual directory can be retrieved by the query:

| ?- packs::logtalk_packs(Directory).
...

This directory holds sub-directories for registries, packs, and archives. These sub-directories are automatically created when loading the packs tool if they don’t exist . Users shouldn’t manually modify the contents of these directories. Multiple and independent registry/pack setups are possible using virtual environments as explained next.

Your registries and packs setup can be saved and restored (e.g. in a different system) by using the packs::save/2 and packs::restore/1-2 predicates. For example:

| ?- packs::save(my_setup, [save(all)]).
...

Then, in the destination system:

| ?- packs::restore(my_setup).
...

If necessary, before restoring, the packs::reset/0 predicate can be called to delete any defined registries and installed packs.

Virtual environments

An application may require a specific Logtalk version (e.g. the version used to test and certify it) and specific pack versions. These requirements may differ between applications. Different applications may also have conflicting requirements. Therefore, a virtual environment where an application requirements are fulfilled may be required to develop and/or run it. A virtual environment is essentially a registries/packs storage directory.

Defining the logtalk_packs library alias in a settings file or defining the LOGTALKPACKS environment variable before starting Logtalk allows easy creation and switching between virtual environments. By using a per application settings file (or a per application environment variable definition) each application can thus use its own virtual environment.

When a virtual environment also requires a specific Logtalk version, this can be installed as a pack from the official talkshow registry and used by (re)defining the LOGTALKHOME and LOGTALKUSER environment variables to point to its pack directory (which can be queried by using the packs::directory/2 message). Several shell utilities are available that can set environment variables when changing to an application directory (see e.g. direnv).

A virtual environment setup (i.e. the currently defined registries and installed packs) can be saved into a file (e.g. requirements.lgt) using the packs::save/1 predicate:

| ?- packs::save('requirements.lgt').
...

This query saves a listing of all the installed packs and their registries. Using the saved file, the virtual environment setup can then be restored using the packs::restore/1-2 predicates. The file uses a simple format with registry/2 and pack/3 facts (in this order) and can be manually created or edited if necessary. For example:

registry(talkshow, 'https://github.com/LogtalkDotOrg/talkshow.git').
pack(talkshow, logtalk, 3:45:0).
pack(talkshow, lflat, 2:1:0).

These files can be distributed with applications so that users can easily fulfill application requirements by using the packs tool. Typically, an application directory will include settings.lgt and requirements.lgt files. The settings.lgt file can define the logtalk_packs library alias using code such as:

:- initialization((
    logtalk_load_context(directory, Directory),
    assertz(logtalk_library_path(logtalk_packs, Directory))
)).

A suitable named sub-directory can also be used. The application requirements can then be fulfilled by starting Logtalk from the application directory (so that the application settings file is loaded) and running once the query:

| ?- packs::restore('requirements.lgt').

After, the application loader.lgt file can then load the required packs using their loader files:

:- initialization((
    % load required packs
    logtalk_load(foo(loader)),
    logtalk_load(bar(loader)),
    ...
    % load application files
    ...
)).

Registry specification

A registry is a git remote repo that can be cloned, a downloadable archive, or a local directory containing a Logtalk loader file that loads source files defining the registry itself and the packs it provides. The registry name is ideally a valid unquoted atom. The registry directory must contain at least two Logtalk source files:

  • A file defining an object named after the registry with a _registry suffix, implementing the registry_protocol. This naming convention helps preventing name conflicts.

  • A loader file (named loader.lgt or loader.logtalk) that loads the registry object file and all pack object files.

An example of a registry specification object would be:

:- object(jdoe_awesome_packs_registry,
    implements(registry_protocol)).

    :- info([
        version is 1:0:0,
        author is 'John Doe',
        date is 2021-10-18,
        comment is 'John Doe awesome packs registry spec.'
    ]).

    name(jdoe_awesome_packs).

    description('John Doe awesome packs').

    home('https://example.com/jdoe_awesome_packs').

    clone('https://github.com/jdoe/jdoe_awesome_packs.git').

    archive('https://github.com/jdoe/jdoe_awesome_packs/archive/main.zip').

:- end_object.

Optionally, the registry object can also define a note(Action, Note) predicate. The Action argument is an atom: add, update, or delete. The Note argument is also an atom. The tool will print any available notes when executing one of the registry actions. See the registry_protocol documentation for more details.

The registry directory should also contain LICENSE and README.md files (individual packs can use a different license, however). The path to the README.md file is printed when the registry is added. It can also be queried using the registries::directory/2 predicate.

Summarizing the required directory structure using the above example (note that the registry and pack specification files are named after the objects):

jdoe_awesome_packs
    LICENSE
    README.md
    jdoe_awesome_packs_registry.lgt
    loader.lgt
    foo_pack.lgt
    bar_pack.lgt
    ...

With the contents of the loader.lgt file being:

:- initialization((
    logtalk_load(jdoe_awesome_packs_registry),
    logtalk_load(foo_pack),
    logtalk_load(bar_pack),
    ...
)).

It would be of course possible to have all objects in a single source file. But having a file per object and a loader file helps maintenance and it’s also a tool requirement for applying safety procedures to the source file contents and thus successfully loding the registry and pack specs.

As registries are git repos in the most common case and thus adding them performs a git repo cloning, they should only contain the strictly required files.

Registry handling

Registries can be added using the registries::add/1-3 predicates, which take a registry URL. Using the example above:

| ?- registries::add('https://github.com/jdoe/jdoe_awesome_packs.git').

HTTPS URLs must end with either a .git extension or a an archive extension. Git cloning URLs are preferred but a registry can also be made available via a local directory (using a file:// URL) or a downloadable archive (using a https:// URL).

For registries made available using an archive, the registries::add/2-3 predicates must be used as the registry name cannot in general be inferred from the URL basename or from the archived directory name. The registry argument must also be the declared registry name in the registry specification object. For example:

| ?- registries::add(
        jdoe_awesome_packs,
        'https://github.com/jdoe/jdoe_awesome_packs/archive/main.zip'
     ).

The added registries can be listed using the registries::list/0 predicate:

| ?- registries::list.

% Defined registries:
%   jdoe_awesome_packs (git)
%   ...

The registries::describe/1 predicate can be used to print the details of a registry:

| ?- registries::describe(jdoe_awesome_packs).

% Registry:    jdoe_awesome_packs
% Description: John Doe awesome packs
% Home:        https://example.com/jdoe_awesome_packs
% Cloning URL: https://github.com/jdoe/jdoe_awesome_packs.git
% Archive URL: https://github.com/jdoe/jdoe_awesome_packs/archive/main.zip

To update all registries, use the registries::update/0 predicate. To update a single registry, use the registries::update/1-2 predicates. After updating, you can use the packs::outdated/0-1 predicates to list any outdated packs.

Registries can also be deleted using the registries::delete/1-2 predicate. By default, any registries with installed packs cannot be deleted. If you force deletion (by using the force(true) option), you can use the packs::orphaned/0 predicate to list any orphaned packs that are installed.

See the tool API documentation on the registries object for other useful predicates.

Registry development

To simplify registry development and testing, use a local directory and a file:// URL when calling the registries::add/1 predicate. For example:

| ?- registries::add('file:///home/jdoe/work/my_pack_collection').

If the directory is a git repo, the tool will clone it when adding it. Otherwise, the files in the directory are copied to the registry definition directory. This allows the registry to be added and deleted without consequences for the original registry source files.

To check your registry specifications, use the registries::lint/0-1 predicates after adding the registry.

Pack specification

A pack is specified using a Logtalk source file defining an object that implements the pack_protocol. The source file should be named after the pack with a _pack suffix. This naming convention helps preventing name conflicts, notably with the pack own objects. The file must be available from a declared pack registry. The pack name is ideally a valid unquoted atom. An example of a registry specification object would be:

:- object(lflat_pack,
    implements(pack_protocol)).

    :- info([
        version is 1:0:0,
        author is 'Paulo Moura',
        date is 2021-10-18,
        comment is 'L-FLAT - Logtalk Formal Language and Automata Toolkit pack spec.'
    ]).

    name(lflat).

    description('L-FLAT - Logtalk Formal Language and Automata Toolkit').

    license('MIT').

    home('https://github.com/l-flat/lflat').

    version(
        2:1:0,
        stable,
        'https://github.com/l-flat/lflat/archive/refs/tags/v2.1.0.tar.gz',
        sha256 - '9c298c2a08c4e2a1972c14720ef1498e7f116c7cd8bf7702c8d22d8ff549b6a1',
        [logtalk @>= 3:36:0],
        all
    ).

    version(
        2:0:2,
        stable,
        'https://github.com/l-flat/lflat/archive/refs/tags/v2.0.2.tar.gz',
        sha256 - '8774b3863efc03bb6c284935885dcf34f69f115656d2496a33a446b6199f3e19',
        [logtalk @>= 3:36:0],
        all
    ).

:- end_object.

Optionally, the pack object can also define a note(Action, Version, Note) predicate. The Action argument is an atom: install, update, or uninstall. The Note argument is also an atom. The tool will print any available notes when executing one of the registry actions. See the pack_protocol documentation for more details.

The pack sources must be available either as a local directory (when using a file:// URL) or for downloading as a supported archive. The checksum for the archive must use the SHA-256 hash algorithm (sha256). The pack may optionally be signed. Supported archive formats and extensions are:

  • .zip

  • .tgz, .tar.gz

  • .tbz2, .tar.bz2

The pack sources should contain LICENSE, README.md, and loader.lgt (or loader.logtalk) files. The path to the README.md file is printed when the pack is installed or updated. It can also be queried using the packs::directory/2 predicate.

Pack versions

A pack may specify multiple versions. Each version is described using a version/6 predicate clause as illustrated in the example above. The versions must be listed ordered from newest to oldest. For details, see the pack_protocol API documentation.

Listing multiple versions allows the pack specification to be updated (by updating its registry) without forcing existing users into installing (or updating to) the latest version of the pack.

Pack dependencies

Pack dependencies on other packs can be specified using the syntax Registry::Pack Operator Version where Operator is a standard term comparison operator as described below. When a pack depends on a Logtalk or backend version, the name logtalk or the identifier of the backend can be used in place of Registry::Pack (see below for the table of backend specifiers).

Dependencies are specified using a list of the following elements:

  • Registry::Pack @>= Version - the pack requires a dependency with version equal or above the specified one. For example, logtalk @>= 3:36:0 means that the pack requires Logtalk 3.36.0 or later version.

  • Registry::Pack @=< Version - the pack requires a dependency with version up to the specified one. For example, common::bits @=< 2:1 means that the pack requires a common::bits pack up to 2.1. This includes all previous versions and also all patches for version 2.1 (e.g. 2.1.7, 2.1.8, …) but not version 2.2 or newer.

  • Registry::Pack @< Version - the pack requires a dependency with version older than the specified one. For example, common::bits @< 3 means that the pack requires a common::bits 2.x or older version.

  • Registry::Pack @> Version - the pack requires a dependency with version newer than the specified one. For example, common::bits @> 2:4 means that the pack requires a common::bits 2.5 or newer version.

  • Registry::Pack == Version - the pack requires a dependency with a specific version. For example, common::bits == 2:1 means that the pack requires a common::bits pack version 2.1.x (thus, from version 2.1.0 to the latest patch for version 2.1).

  • Registry::Pack \== Version - the pack requires a dependency with any version other than then the one specified. For example, common::bits \== 2.1 means that the pack requires a common::bits pack version other than any 2.1.x version.

It’s also possible to specify range dependencies by using two consecutive elements with the lower bound followed by the upper bound. For example, [common::bits @>= 2, common::bits @< 3] means all common::bits 2.x versions but not older or newer major versions.

Pack portability

Ideally, packs are fully portable and can be used with all Logtalk supported Prolog backends. This can be declared by using the atom all in the last argument of the version/6 predicate (see example above).

When a pack can only be used with a subset of the Prolog backends, the last argument of the version/6 predicate is a list of backend identifiers (atoms):

  • B-Prolog: b

  • Ciao Prolog: ciao

  • CxProlog: cx

  • ECLiPSe: eclipse

  • GNU Prolog: gnu

  • JIProlog: ji

  • LVM: lvm

  • Scryer Prolog: scryer

  • SICStus Prolog: sicstus

  • SWI-Prolog: swi

  • Tau Prolog: tau

  • Trealla Prolog: trealla

  • XSB: xsb

  • YAP: yap

Pack development

To simplify pack development and testing, define a local registry and add to it a pack specification with the development version available from a local directory. For example:

version(
    0:11:0,
    beta,
    'file:///home/jdoe/work/my_awesome_library',
    none,
    [],
    all
).

If the directory is a git repo, the tool will clone it when installing the pack. Otherwise, the files in the directory are copied to the pack installation directory. This allows the pack to be installed, updated, and uninstalled without consequences for the pack source files.

Packs that are expected to be fully portable should always be checked by loading them with the portability flag set to warning.

To check your packs specifications, use the packs::lint/0-2 predicates after adding the registry that provides the packs.

Pack handling

Packs must be available from a defined registry. To list all packs that are available for installation, use the packs::available/0 predicate:

| ?- packs::available.

To list all installed packs, call the packs::installed/0 predicate:

| ?- packs::installed.

To know more about a specific pack, use the packs::describe/1-2 predicates. For example:

| ?- packs::describe(bar).

The packs::describe/2 predicate can be used when two or more registries provide packs with the same name. For example:

| ?- packs::describe(reg, bar).

To install the latest version of a pack, we can use the packs::install/1-4 predicates. In the most simple case, when a pack name is unique among registries, we can use the packs::install/1 predicate. For example:

| ?- packs::install(bar).

Any pack dependencies are also checked and installed or updated if necessary. Other install predicates are available to disambiguate between registries and to install a specific pack version.

Packs becomes available for loading immediately after successful installation (no restarting of the Logtalk session is required). For example, after the pack bar is installed, you can load it at the top-level by typing:

| ?- {bar(loader)}.

or load it from a loader file using the goal logtalk_load(bar(loader)).

After updating the defined registries, outdated packs can be listed using the packs::outdated/0 predicate. You can update all outdated packs by calling the packs::update/0 predicate or update a single pack using the packs::update/1-2 predicates. For example:

| ?- packs::update(bar).

The tool provides versions of the pack install, update, and uninstall predicates that accept a list of options:

  • verbose(Boolean) (default is false)

  • clean(Boolean) (default is false)

  • force(Boolean) (default is false)

  • checksum(Boolean) (default is true)

  • checksig(Boolean) (default is false)

  • curl(Atom) (extra command-line options; default is '')

  • gpg(Atom) (extra command-line options; default is '')

  • tar(Atom) (extra command-line options; default is '')

When using a checksig(true) option to check a pack signature, is strongly advised that you also use the verbose(true) option. For example:

| ?- packs::install(foo, bar, 1:1:2, [verbose(true), checksig(true)]).

Note that the public key used to sign the pack archive must be already present in your local system.

Downloading pack archives may require passing extra command-line options to curl for authentication. A common solution is to use a personal access token. The details depend on the server software. For example:

| ?- packs::install(foo, bar, 1:1:2, [curl('--header "Authorization: token foo42"')]).

Or:

| ?- packs::install(foo, bar, 1:1:2, [curl('--header "PRIVATE-TOKEN: foo42"')]).

Pack archives may be encrypted, requiring passing the decryption passphrase when installing or updating a pack. For example:

| ?- packs::install(foo, bar, 1:1:2, [tar('--passphrase test123')]).

In this case, you should be careful to not leak your passphrase in e.g. the query history.

To uninstall a pack that you no longer need, use the packs::uninstall/1-2 predicates. By default, only packs with no dependent packs can be uninstalled. You can print or get a list of the packs that depend on a given pack by using the packs::dependents/1-3 predicates. For example:

| ?- packs::dependents(reg, bar, Dependents).

See the tool API documentation on the packs object for other useful predicates.

Pack documentation

The path to the pack README.md file is printed when the pack is installed or updated. It can also be retrieved at any time by using the readme/2 predicate. For example:

| ?- packs::readme(lflat, Path).

Additional documentation may also be available from the pack home page, which can be printed by using the describe/1-2 predicates. For example:

| ?- packs::describe(lflat).

% Registry:    ...
% Pack:        lflat
% Description: L-FLAT - Logtalk Formal Language and Automata Toolkit
% License:     MIT
% Home:        https://github.com/l-flat/lflat
% Versions:
...

The pack API documentation can be generated using the lgtdoc tool library and directory predicates (depending on the pack source files organization). For example:

| ?- {lflat(loader)},
     {lgtdoc(loader)},
     logtalk::expand_library_path(lflat, Path),
     lgtdoc::rdirectory(Path).
...

This query creates a xml_docs directory in the current directory. The XML documentation files can then be converted into a final format, e.g. HTML, using one of the lgtdoc tool provided scripts. For example:

$ cd xml_docs
$ lgt2html

For more details and alternatives, see the lgtdoc tool documentation.

It is also possible to add API documentation and diagrams for all the installed packs to the Logtalk distribution API documentation and diagrams by calling the update_html_docs and update_svg_diagrams scripts with the -i option. See the scripts documentation for more details.

Pinning registries and packs

Registries and packs can be pinned after installation to prevent accidental updating or deleting, e.g. when using the batch update/0 predicate. This is useful when your application requires a specific version or for security considerations (see below). For example, if we want the bar pack to stay at its current installed version:

| ?- packs::pin(bar).
yes

After, any attempt to update or uninstall the pack will fail with an error message:

| ?- packs::update(bar).
!     Cannot update pinned pack: bar
no

| ?- packs::uninstall(bar).
!     Cannot uninstall pinned pack: bar
no

To enable the pack to be updated ou uninstalled, the pack must first be unpinned. Alternatively, the force(true) option can be used. Note that if you force update a pinned pack, the new version will be unpinned.

It’s also possible to pin (or unpin) all defined registries or installed packs at once by using the pin/0 (or unpin/0) predicates. But note that registries added after or packs installed after will not be automatically pinned.

Testing packs

Logtalk packs (as most Logtalk libraries, tools, and examples) are expected to have a tester.lgt or tester.logtalk tests driver file at the root of their directory, which can be used for both automated and manual testing. For example, after installing the foo pack:

| ?- {foo(tester)}.

To test all installed packs, you can use the logtalk_tester automation script from the installed packs directory, which you can query using the goal:

| ?- packs::prefix(Directory).

Note that running the packs tests, like simply loading the pack, can result in calling arbitrary code, which can potentially harm your system. Always take into account the security considerations discussed below.

Security considerations

New pack registries should be examined before being added, specially if public and from a previously unknown source. The same precautions should be taken when adding or updating a pack. Note that a registry can always index third-party packs.

Pack checksums are checked by default. But pack signatures are only checked if requested as packs are often unsigned. Care should be taken when adding public keys for pack signers to your local system. Detached signature files are assumed and expected to share the name of the archive and use a .asc extension. When the checksig(true) option is used, the signature file is automatically downloaded using a URL constructed from the pack archive URL.

Registry and pack spec files plus the registry loader file are compiled by term-expanding them so that only expected terms are actually loaded and only expected logtalk_load/2 goals with expected relative file paths are allowed. Predicates defining URLs are discarded if the URLs are neither https:// nor file:// URLs or if they contain non-allowed characters (currently, only alpha-numeric ASCII characters plus the ASCII /, ., -, and _ characters are accepted). But note that this tool makes no attempt to audit pack source files themselves.

Registries and packs can always be pinned so that they are not accidentally updated to a version that you may not had the chance to audit.

Best practices

  • Make available a new pack registry as a git repo. This simplifies updating the registry and rolling back to a previous version.

  • Use registry and pack names that are valid unquoted atoms, thus simplifying usage. Use descriptive names with underscores if necessary to link words.

  • Name registry and pack specification objects after their names with a _registry or _pack suffix. Save the objects in files named after the objects.

  • Create new pack versions from git tags.

  • If the sources of a pack are available from a git repo, consider using signed commits and signed tags for increased security.

  • When a new pack version breaks backwards compatibility, list both the old and the new versions on the pack spec file.

  • Pin registries and packs when specific versions are critical for your work so that you can still easily batch update the remaining packs and registries.

  • Include the $LOGTALKPACKS directory (or the default ~/logtalk_packs directory) on your regular backups.

Installing Prolog packs

This tool can also be used to install Prolog packs that don’t use Logtalk. After installing a pl_pack Prolog pack from a pl_reg registry, it can be found in the $LOGTALKPACKS/packs/pl_reg/pl_pack directory. When the LOGTALKPACKS environment variable is not defined, the pack directory is by default ~/logtalk_packs/packs/pl_reg/pl_pack.

Different Prolog systems provide different solutions for locating Prolog code. For example, several Prolog systems adopted the Quintus Prolog file_search_path/2 hook predicate. For these systems, a solution could be to add a fact to this predicate for each installed Prolog pack. For example, assuming a pl_pack Prolog pack:

:- multifile(file_search_path/2).
:- dynamic(file_search_path/2).

file_search_path(library, '$LOGTALKPACKS/packs/pl_pack').

If the Prolog system also supports reading an initialization file at startup, the above definition could be added there.

Known issues

Using the verbose(true) option on Windows systems may not provide the shell commands output depending on the backend.

On Windows systems, the reset, delete, and uninstall predicates may fail to delete all affected folders and files due to a operating-system bug. Depending on the backend, this bug may cause some of the tests to fail. For details on this bug, see:

https://github.com/microsoft/terminal/issues/309

The workaround is to use the Windows File Explorer to delete the left-over folders and files.

When using Ciao Prolog 1.20.0, a workaround is used for this system non-standard support for multifile predicates.

When using GNU Prolog 1.5.0 as the backend on Windows, you may get an error on directory_files/2 calls. For details and a workaround, see:

https://github.com/didoudiaz/gprolog/issues/4

This issue is fixed in the GNU Prolog 1.5.1 version.

Using SICStus Prolog as the backend on Windows doesn’t currently work in version 4.7.0 and earlier versions. The underlying issues are fixed in the SICStus Prolog 4.7.1 version.

XSB have an odd bug (likely in its parser) when reading files that may cause a pack installed version to be reported as the end_of_file atom.

Some tests fail on Windows when using ECLiPSe or XSB due to file path representation issues.