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1 GLEP: 42
2 Title: Critical News Reporting
3 Version: $Revision: $
4 Author: Ciaran McCreesh <ciaranm@gentoo.org>
5 Last-Modified: $Date: $
6 Status: Draft
7 Type: Standards Track
8 Content-Type: text/x-rst
9 Created: 31-October-2005
10 Post-Date: 1-November-2005, 5-November-2005
11
12 Abstract
13 ========
14
15 This GLEP proposes a new way of informing users about important updates and news
16 regarding tree-related items.
17
18 Motivation
19 ==========
20
21 There are currently several ways of getting news out to our users, none of them
22 particularly effective:
23
24 * Gentoo Weekly News
25 * The ``gentoo-announce`` mailing list
26 * The Gentoo Forums
27 * The main Gentoo website
28 * RSS feeds of Gentoo news
29
30 A more reliable way of getting news of critical updates out to users is required
31 to avoid repeats of the various recent upgrade debacles. This GLEP proposes a
32 solution based around pushing news items out to the user via the ``rsync`` tree.
33
34 Requirements
35 ============
36
37 An adequate solution must meet all of the following requirements:
38
39 Preemptive
40 Users should be told of changes *before* they break the user's system,
41 after the damage has already been done.
42
43 No user subscription required
44 It has already been demonstrated [#forums-whining]_ that many users do not
45 read the ``gentoo-announce`` mailing list or ``RSS`` feeds. A solution which
46 requires subscription has no advantage over current methods.
47
48 No user monitoring required
49 It has already been demonstrated [#forums-whining]_ that many users do not
50 read news items posted to the Gentoo website, or do not read news items
51 until it is too late. A solution that relies upon active monitoring of a
52 particular source has no advantage over current methods.
53
54 Relevant
55 System administrators who do not use a particular package should not have to
56 read news items which affect purely that package. Some news items may be of
57 relevance to most or all users, but those that are not should not be forced
58 upon users unnecessarily.
59
60 Lightweight
61 It is not reasonable to expect all users to have an MTA, web browser, email
62 client, cron daemon or text processing suite available on their system.
63
64 No privacy violations
65 Users of the solution should not be required to provide information about
66 their systems (for example, IP addresses or installed packages).
67
68 Multiple delivery method support
69 Some users may wish to view news items via email, some via a terminal and
70 some via a web browser. A solution should either support all of these
71 methods or (better still) make it trivial to write clients for displaying
72 news items in different ways.
73
74 The following characteristics would be desirable:
75
76 Internationalisable
77 Being able to provide messages in multiple languages may be beneficial.
78
79 Quality control
80 There should be some way to ensure that badly written or irrelevant messages
81 are not sent out, for example by inexperienced developers, those whose
82 English language skills are below par or morons.
83
84 Simple for developers
85 Posting news items should be as simple as is reasonably possible.
86
87 Simple for users
88 Reading relevant news items should be as simple as is reasonably possible.
89
90 Compatibility with existing and future news sources
91 A news system would ideally be able to be integrated with existing news
92 sources (for example, Forums, GWN, the main Gentoo website) without
93 excessive difficulty. Similarly, easy interoperation with any future news
94 sources should not be precluded.
95
96 Specification
97 =============
98
99 Overview
100 --------
101
102 News items are published and delivered to users as follows:
103
104 1. A news item is written. The format to be used is described in
105 `News Item File Format`_.
106 2. The news item is reviewed, following the process described in
107 `News Item Quality Control`_.
108 3. The news item is committed to a CVS (or Subversion [#glep-36]_) repository.
109 From here, it is merged with the rsync tree. This is described in `News Item
110 Distribution`_.
111 4. The news item is merged with the rsync tree. Implementation details of this
112 point are beyond the scope of this GLEP; existing solutions are in place
113 for merging GLSAs to the tree.
114 5. Users fetch the news item when they sync. This ensures that the news items in
115 question are pushed to the user before the user accidentally makes an
116 unwanted change. No changes to the existing rsync process are required by
117 this GLEP.
118 6. Portage filters the news item and, if it is relevant, installs it in a
119 special location to be read by a news item reader. Messages are also
120 displayed to inform the user that news is available.
121 7. The news item is handled by the user's choice of news item reader. See `News
122 Item Clients`_.
123
124 News Item File Format
125 ---------------------
126
127 Each news item will be represented by a single text file. This file will be
128 encoded using UTF-8 for compatibility with and for the same reason as existing
129 Gentoo documentation [#docs-policy]_ and tree [#glep-31]_ practices.
130
131 The news item will be named in the form ``yyyy-mm-dd-item-name.en.txt``, where
132 ``item-name`` is a very short name (e.g. ``apache-updates``) and ``en`` is the
133 two letter ISO 639 [#iso-639]_ language code for the news item. The short name
134 must consist only of characters ``a-z``, ``A-Z``, ``0-9`` and ``-`` (hyphen).
135
136 News items may be signed using GPG. If this is done, a detached signature should
137 be used.
138
139 The directory and file name rules are designed specifically to allow easy
140 sorting by date.
141
142 An English (``en``) version must be available for all news items. Other
143 languages may be provided either by the original author or by other translators
144 who have commit access. This anglocentricity is justified on the grounds that
145 nobody objected to it with GLEP 34 [#glep-34]_.
146
147 A news item's content will consist of an RFC 822 [#rfc-822]_ style header
148 followed by the main body of the message as plain text. This GLEP defines
149 various optional and mandatory headers. Future GLEPs may propose new headers --
150 tools handling these news items must ignore any unrecognised header.
151
152 News Item Headers
153 '''''''''''''''''
154
155 The following headers describe the purpose and format of the news item:
156
157 ``Title:``
158 A short (maximum 44 characters) descriptive title. Mandatory.
159 ``Author:``
160 Author's name and email address, in the form ``Real Name <email@address>``.
161 Mandatory, multiple author fields may be specified if appropriate.
162 ``Translator:``
163 For translated news items, the translator's name and email address.
164 ``Content-Type:``
165 Must be ``text/plain``. Mandatory.
166 ``Posted:``
167 Date of posting, in ``dd-mmm-yyyy`` format (e.g. 14-Aug-2001). UTC time in
168 ``hh-mm-ss +0000`` format may also be included. This field is mandatory.
169 ``Version:``
170 Initially 1. Incremented every time a non-trivial change is made. Changes
171 which require a re-read of the news item should instead use a new news item
172 file.
173 ``News-Item-Format:``
174 Must be ``1.0``. Future revisions to the format may increment the minor
175 number for backwards-compatible changes, or the major number for major
176 changes.
177
178 The following headers are used for filtering. If none of these headers are
179 specified, the news item is displayed for all users. Otherwise, the news item is
180 displayed if *at least one* header matches.
181
182 ``Display-If-Installed:``
183 A dependency atom or simple package name (for example,
184 ``<dev-lang/php-5_alpha`` or ``net-www/apache``). If the user has the
185 package specified installed, the news item should be displayed.
186
187 ``Display-If-Keyword:``
188 A keyword [#glep-22]_ name, for example ``mips``. If the user is on the arch
189 in question, the news item should be displayed.
190
191 ``Display-If-Profile:``
192 A profile path, for example ``default-linux/sparc/sparc64/server``. If the
193 user is using the exact profile in question, the news item should be
194 displayed. This header may be used to replace ``deprecated`` files in the
195 future.
196
197 News Item Body
198 ''''''''''''''
199
200 The header section must be followed by a blank line, then the main body of the
201 text.
202
203 The text body should be wrapped at 72 characters. No fancy formatting or tab
204 characters should be used -- the news item may be being displayed directly to a
205 terminal. Paragraphs should be separated by two blank lines.
206
207 Hyperlinks may be used to refer to further information (for example, an upgrade
208 guide). However, the main body of the news item should be descriptive and not
209 simply a "read this link" text. It is assumed that the user will have access to
210 a web browser *somewhere*, but not necessarily on the box which is being
211 administrated -- this will be the case on may servers and routers, for example.
212
213 Example News Item
214 '''''''''''''''''
215
216 The following hypothetical news item could be used for an upgrade to the
217 ``YourSQL`` database format which breaks forward compatibility. It should be
218 named ``2005-11/2005-11-01-yoursql-upgrades.en.txt``.
219
220 ::
221
222 Title: YourSQL Upgrades from 4.0 to 4.1
223 Author: Ciaran McCreesh <ciaranm@gentoo.org>
224 Content-Type: text/plain
225 Posted: 01-Nov-2005
226 Display-If-Installed: <dev-db/yoursql-4.1_alpha
227
228 YourSQL databases created using YourSQL version 4.0 are incompatible
229 with YourSQL version 4.1 or later. There is no reliable way to
230 automate the database format conversion, so action from the system
231 administrator is required before an upgrade can take place.
232
233 Please see the Gentoo YourSQL Upgrade Guide for instructions:
234
235 http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/yoursql-upgrading.xml
236
237 Also see the official YourSQL documentation:
238
239 http://dev.yoursql.com/doc/refman/4.1/en/upgrading-from-4-0.html
240
241 After upgrading, you should also recompile any packages which link
242 against YourSQL:
243
244 revdep-rebuild --library=libyoursqlclient.so.12
245
246 The revdep-rebuild tool is provided by app-portage/gentoolkit.
247
248 News Item Quality Control
249 -------------------------
250
251 There have been complaints regarding the comprehensibility of some upgrade
252 notices and news items in the past. This is understandable -- not every Gentoo
253 developer speaks English as a first language. However, for the sake of clarity
254 and professionalism it is important that any language problems be corrected
255 before inflicting a news item upon end users.
256
257 Thus, all proposed news items must be posted to the ``gentoo-dev`` or
258 ``gentoo-core`` mailing list, and ``Cc:``\ed to ``pr@gentoo.org`` at least 72
259 hours before being committed (exceptions may be made in exceptional
260 circumstances). Any complaints regarding wording or clarity **must** be
261 addressed before the news item goes live.
262
263 News items must only be for **important** changes that may cause serious upgrade
264 or compatibility problems. Ordinary upgrade messages and non-critical news items
265 should remain in ``einfo`` notices. The importance of the message to its
266 intended audience should be justified with the proposal.
267
268 .. Important:: The filtering system means that it is appropriate to send out
269 news items which are aimed at users of an uncommon package or architecture.
270 Thus, the justification should be in the form "this message is important to
271 YourSQL users because ...", not "YourSQL is important because ...".
272
273 News Item Distribution
274 ----------------------
275
276 Server Side
277 '''''''''''
278
279 News items are to be made available via the Portage tree. This removes any
280 need for polling of a remote source.
281
282 A new repository will be created for news items. The type (CVS or Subversion),
283 location and access controls on this repository are beyond the scope of this
284 GLEP.
285
286 .. Note:: A previous draft of this GLEP instead used the main ``gentoo-x86``
287 tree. This was changed following advice from Infrastructure
288 [#ramereth-repo]_. Both solutions have the same end result.
289
290 This repository will contain directories named ``yyyy-mm/``, where ``yyyy`` is
291 the current year and ``mm`` is the current month number (01 for January through
292 12 for December). This separation will help keep news items more manageable.
293
294 The contents of this repository will automatically be merged with the main rsync
295 tree, placing the items under a top-level ``news/`` directory. The method used
296 for merging these items is beyond the scope of this GLEP -- a similar setup is
297 already used for merging GLSAs into the rsync tree.
298
299 .. Note:: The ``profiles/`` directory will *not* be used. This fits in with
300 the Portage team's future plans for ``profiles/`` and ``metadata/``
301 separation.
302
303 Client Side
304 '''''''''''
305
306 Whenever relevant unread news items are found, ``emerge`` will copy or symlink
307 the news file into ``/var/lib/gentoo/news/``.
308
309 Notification that new relevant news items will be displayed via the
310 ``emerge`` tool in a similar way to the existing "configuration files need
311 updating" messages:
312
313 ::
314
315 * Important: 3 config files in /etc need updating.
316 * Type emerge --help config to learn how to update config files.
317
318 * Important: there are 5 unread news items.
319 * Type emerge --help news to learn how to read news files.
320
321 The unread news message will also be displayed immediately after an
322 ``emerge sync``.
323
324 Portage may also warn of unread news items using, for example, a red flashy
325 before actions such as merging a package.
326
327 Portage must keep track of news items which have already been installed to avoid
328 repeatedly reinstalling a deleted news item.
329
330 Users who really don't care about news items can use ``rsync_excludes`` to
331 filter out the ``news/`` directory.
332
333 News Item Clients
334 -----------------
335
336 Once a news item is 'installed', third party tools (or a traditional Unix pager
337 and ``rm``) can be used to display and view the news files. An ``eselect``
338 [#eselect]_ module shall be created as the 'suggested' display tool; other
339 display tools (for example, a news to email forwarder, which would be ideal for
340 users who sync on a cron) are left as options for those who desire them -- the
341 simple file format make this relatively simple.
342
343 News Item Removal
344 -----------------
345
346 News items can be removed (by removing the news file from the main tree) when
347 they are no longer relevant, if they are made obsolete by a future news item or
348 after a long period of time. This is the same as the method used for ``updates``
349 entries.
350
351 Integration with Existing Systems
352 =================================
353
354 It would be trivial to convert these news items into the format used for news
355 items on the Gentoo website or posts for the ``gentoo-announce`` mailing list.
356
357 There is an existing automated tool [#forums-glsa]_ for posting GLSAs to the
358 forums. A similar tool can be used for these news items.
359
360 Backwards Compatibility
361 =======================
362
363 Backwards compatibility is not a concern here. Existing tools will simply ignore
364 the ``news/`` directory.
365
366 Reference Implementation
367 ========================
368
369 Portage Code
370 ------------
371
372 TODO
373
374 Simple ``eselect`` News Client
375 ------------------------------
376
377 A demonstration ``eselect`` news display script follows:
378
379 ::
380
381 # Copyright 1999-2005 Gentoo Foundation
382 # Distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License v2
383 # $Id: $
384
385 DESCRIPTION="Read important Gentoo news items"
386 MAINTAINER="ciaranm@gentoo.org"
387 SVN_DATE='$Date: $'
388 VERSION=$(svn_date_to_version "${SVN_DATE}" )
389
390 get_news_item_list() {
391 [[ -d "${ROOT}/var/lib/gentoo/news" ]] || return
392 (
393 local news
394 for news in "${ROOT}/var/lib/gentoo/news/"*.txt ; do
395 echo $(basename ${news%%.*} )
396 done
397 ) | sort -u
398 }
399
400 get_filename() {
401 local best_lang=${LANG%%_*} lang= filename="${1}"
402 [[ -e "/${filename}" ]] || for lang in "${best_lang}" "en" ; do
403 filename="${ROOT}/var/lib/gentoo/news/${1}.${lang}.txt"
404 [[ -e "${filename}" ]] && break
405 done
406 [[ -e "${filename}" ]] && echo "${filename}" || die -q "Can't find '${1}'"
407 }
408
409 get_all_filenames() {
410 if [[ -z "${1}" ]] ; then
411 echo "${ROOT}/var/lib/gentoo/news/"*.??".txt"
412 else
413 echo "${ROOT}/var/lib/gentoo/news/${1}."??".txt"
414 fi
415 }
416
417 get_headers() {
418 sed -e '/^$/Q' < $(get_filename "${1}" )
419 }
420
421 get_body() {
422 sed -e '1,/^$/d' < $(get_filename "${1}" )
423 }
424
425 get_title() {
426 get_headers "${1}" | sed -n -e '/^[Tt]itle: /s/^[^:]\+:[ \t]*//p'
427 }
428
429 ### list action
430
431 ## {{{ list stuff
432 describe_list() {
433 echo "List available news items"
434 }
435
436 do_list() {
437 write_list_start "Available news items:"
438 local empty=yes n=1
439 for news in $(get_news_item_list ) ; do
440 write_numbered_list_entry ${n} "$(highlight $(get_title ${news} ) ) (${news})"
441 n=$(( n + 1 ))
442 done
443 }
444 ## }}}
445
446 ## {{{ show stuff
447 describe_show(){
448 echo "Show a news item"
449 }
450
451 do_show() {
452 [[ -z "${1}" ]] && die -q "You didn't tell me which news item to read"
453
454 local target=${1} filename=
455 if is_number "${target}" && [[ ${target} -ge 1 ]] ; then
456 targets=( $(get_news_item_list ) )
457 target=${targets[$(( ${target} - 1 ))]}
458 fi
459
460 (
461 get_headers "${target}" | grep -v '^Display-If-\|Content-Type:'
462 echo
463 get_body "${target}"
464 ) | ${PAGER:-cat}
465 }
466 ## }}}
467
468 # {{{ delete stuff
469 describe_delete() {
470 echo "Delete a news item"
471 }
472
473 do_delete() {
474 [[ -z "${1}" ]] && die -q "You didn't tell me which news item to delete"
475
476 for target in $@ ; do
477 if is_number "${target}" && [[ ${target} -ge 1 ]] ; then
478 targets=( $(get_news_item_list ) )
479 target=${targets[$(( ${target} - 1 ))]}
480 fi
481
482 rm $(get_all_filenames "${target}" ) || die -q "Couldn't delete ${target}"
483 done
484 }
485 # }}}
486
487 # {{{ delete-all
488 describe_delete-all() {
489 echo "Delete all news items"
490 }
491
492 do_delete-all() {
493 rm $(get_all_filenames ) || die -q "Couldn't delete news items"
494 }
495 # }}}
496
497 Simple News to Mail Forwarder
498 -----------------------------
499
500 A demonstration shell script which delivers news items via email follows:
501
502 ::
503
504 #!/bin/bash
505
506 to_address="root@localhost"
507 mail="mailx"
508 best_lang="${LANG%%_*}"
509
510 for news in /var/lib/gentoo/news/*.*.txt ; do
511 [[ -z "${best_lang}" ]] || news="${news%%.*}.${best_lang}.txt"
512 [[ -f "${news}" ]] || news="${news%%.*}.en.txt"
513 [[ -f "${news}" ]] || continue
514 title=$(sed -n -e '/^Title:/ { s,^[^:]\+:[ \t]\+,,p ; q }' < ${news} )
515 sed -e '1,/^$/ { /^Display-If\|Content-Type/d }' < "${news}" | \
516 ${mail} -s "Gentoo news: ${title}" "${to_address}" && \
517 for file in ${news%%.*}.*.txt ; do rm "${file}" ; done
518 done
519
520 Credits
521 =======
522
523 The idea behind notifying users of news updates via Portage comes from Stuart
524 Herbert [#stuart-blog]_.
525
526 Thanks to Lance Albertson, Donnie Berkholz, Grant Goodyear, Brian Harring, Dan
527 Meltzer, Paul de Vrieze and Alec Warner for input. Some of the ideas presented
528 here are theirs, others go completely against their suggestions.
529
530 References
531 ==========
532
533 .. [#docs-policy] Gentoo XML Guide, Daniel Robbins et al.,
534 http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/xml-guide.xml
535 .. [#eselect] eselect modular framework for configuration and
536 administration utilities,
537 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/eselect/index.xml
538 .. [#forums-glsa] Forums user GLSA,
539 http://forums.gentoo.org/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=55648
540 .. [#forums-whining] Forums thread "Gentoo Apache2 Config Change Idiocy",
541 http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-384368.html
542 .. [#glep-22] GLEP 22: "New "keyword" system to incorporate various
543 userlands/kernels/archs", Grant Goodyear,
544 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0022.html
545 .. [#glep-31] GLEP 31: "Character Sets for Portage Tree Items", Ciaran
546 McCreesh,
547 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0031.html
548 .. [#glep-34] GLEP 34: "Per-Category metadata.xml Files", Ciaran McCreesh,
549 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0034.html
550 .. [#glep-36] GLEP 36: "Subversion/CVS for Gentoo Hosted Projects", Aaron
551 Walker,
552 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0036.html
553 .. [#iso-639] ISO 639 "Code for the representation of names of languages"
554 .. [#ramereth-repo] "Re: [gentoo-dev] GLEP ??: Critical News Reporting", Lance
555 Albertson,
556 http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=gentoo-dev&m=113111585907703&w=2
557 .. [#rfc-822] RFC 822 "Standard for the format of ARPA Internet text messages"
558 .. [#stuart-blog] "Favouring an automatic news mechanism", Stuart Herbert,
559 http://stu.gnqs.org/diary/gentoo.php/2005/10/28/favouring_an_automatic_news_mechanism
560
561 Copyright
562 =========
563
564 This document has been placed in the public domain.
565
566 .. vim: set tw=80 fileencoding=utf-8 spell spelllang=en et :

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