Feeds

Google devs: Tearing Chrome away from OpenSSL not that easy

Custom BoringSSL fork not quite a drop-in replacement yet

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Google is trying to migrate its Chrome browser away from the buggy OpenSSL cryptography library toward BoringSSL, its homegrown fork, but swapping out the crypto code is proving more difficult than it sounds.

Google engineer David Benjamin posted a revision to the Chromium source code version control system this week with a seemingly simple aim: "Switch to BoringSSL." But in his revision notes he observed that this wasn't the first time this particular change has been tried.

The first time the BoringSSL code was added to the Chromium tree was on July 16, but it was quickly pulled back out again after developers found it broke the build of the WebView component for Android.

The next attempt was on July 17, but that one caused problems with WebRTC on Android, so the Chromium code was reverted to its former state again.

The third time wasn't a charm, either. The BoringSSL code was added back in on July 18 but was reverted after just a few hours, again because of build issues.

Google would like to replace OpenSSL with BoringSSL in Chrome for several reasons, not least of which because of Heartbleed and other vulnerabilities that have recently cropped up in OpenSSL's infamously hard-to-maintain code base.

In response to the Heartbleed debacle, a group of OpenBSD developers created an OpenSSL fork called LibreSSL that's designed to be a drop-in replacement for the OpenSSL library. But that project is still in its early phases, and Google says it has long relied on its own, custom patches to the code, many of which are "a little too experimental" to be included in LibreSSL.

Hence BoringSSL, a new fork that was announced by Google developer Adam Langley in June. BoringSSL incorporates the patches the Chocolate Factory has been adding to the OpenSSL code for its own use, while drawing from the latest clean-up work the LibreSSL crew has been doing to make the source code tree more manageable.

Unfortunately, however, it seems even Google's own custom code base can be difficult to incorporate into other projects – which just goes to illustrate how hard it can be for developers to work with the original OpenSSL code.

As Benjamin explained in the notes to his July 22 Chromium project code revision, "This [switching to BoringSSL] is a much larger change than its diff suggests. If it breaks something, please revert first and ask questions later." ®

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Microsoft to bake Skype into IE, without plugins
Redmond thinks the Object Real-Time Communications API for WebRTC is ready to roll
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all
Sneak peek at security features Redmond's baking into new OS
Mozilla: Spidermonkey ATE Apple's JavaScriptCore, THRASHED Google V8
Moz man claims the win on rivals' own benchmarks
Yes, Virginia, there IS a W3C HTML5 standard – as of now, that is
You asked for it! You begged for it! Then you gave up! And now it's HERE!
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
DEATH by PowerPoint: Microsoft warns of 0-day attack hidden in slides
Might put out patch in update, might chuck it out sooner
Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings
Oi, Windows, centOS and openSUSE – behave, we're all friends here
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Website security in corporate America
Find out how you rank among other IT managers testing your website's vulnerabilities.