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glep 42 is your daddy

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-Oct-2005
10 Post-History: 1-Nov-2005, 5-Nov-2005, 7-Nov-2005, 11-Dec-2005, 13-Dec-2005, 18-Dec-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 Although most package updates are clean and require little user action,
22 occasionally an upgrade requires user intervention during the upgrade process.
23 Recent examples of the latter include the ``gcc-3.4`` stabilisation on ``x86``
24 and the ``mysql-4.1`` database format changes.
25
26 There are currently several ways of delivering important news items to our
27 users, none of them particularly effective:
28
29 * Gentoo Weekly News
30 * The ``gentoo-announce``, ``gentoo-user`` and ``gentoo-dev`` mailing lists
31 * The Gentoo Forums
32 * The main Gentoo website
33 * RSS feeds of Gentoo news
34 * ``einfo`` and ``ewarn`` messages in ``pkg_setup`` or ``pkg_postinst``
35
36 A more reliable way of getting news of critical updates out to users is required
37 to avoid repeats of the various recent upgrade debacles. This GLEP proposes a
38 solution based around pushing news items out to the user via the ``rsync`` tree.
39
40 .. Important:: This GLEP does not seek to replace or modify ``einfo`` messages
41 which are displayed post-install. That is a separate issue which is handled
42 by ``elog`` [#bug-11359]_.
43
44 Requirements
45 ============
46
47 An adequate solution must meet all of the following requirements:
48
49 Preemptive
50 Users should be told of changes *before* they break a system, not after the
51 damage has already been done. Ideally, the system administrator would be
52 given ample warning to plan difficult upgrades and changes, rather than only
53 being told just before action is necessary.
54
55 No user subscription required
56 It has already been demonstrated [#forums-apache2]_ that many users do not
57 read the ``gentoo-announce`` mailing list or ``RSS`` feeds. A solution which
58 requires subscription has no advantage over current methods.
59
60 No user monitoring required
61 It has already been demonstrated [#forums-apache2]_ that many users do not
62 read news items posted to the Gentoo website, or do not read news items
63 until it is too late. A solution that relies upon active monitoring of a
64 particular source has no advantage over current methods.
65
66 Relevant
67 System administrators who do not use a particular package should not have to
68 read news items which affect purely that package. Some news items may be of
69 relevance to most or all users, but those that are not should not be forced
70 upon users unnecessarily.
71
72 Lightweight
73 It is not reasonable to expect all users to have an MTA, web browser, email
74 client, cron daemon or text processing suite available on their system.
75 Users must not be forced to install unreasonable extra software to be able
76 to read news items.
77
78 No privacy violations
79 Users of the solution should not be required to provide information about
80 their systems (for example, IP addresses or installed packages).
81
82 Multiple delivery method support
83 Some users may wish to view news items via email, some via a terminal and
84 some via a web browser. A solution should either support all of these
85 methods or (better still) make it simple to write clients for displaying
86 news items in different ways.
87
88 The following characteristics would be desirable:
89
90 Internationalisable
91 Being able to provide messages in multiple languages may be beneficial.
92
93 Quality control
94 There should be some way to ensure that badly written or irrelevant messages
95 are not sent out, for example by inexperienced developers or those whose
96 English language skills are below par.
97
98 Simple for developers
99 Posting news items should be as simple as is reasonably possible.
100
101 Simple for users
102 Reading relevant news items should be as simple as is reasonably possible.
103
104 Compatibility with existing and future news sources
105 A news system would ideally be able to be integrated with existing news
106 sources (for example, Forums, GWN, the main Gentoo website) without
107 excessive difficulty. Similarly, easy interoperation with any future news
108 sources should not be precluded.
109
110 Specification
111 =============
112
113 Overview
114 --------
115
116 News items are published and delivered to users as follows:
117
118 1. A news item is written. The format to be used is described below.
119
120 2. The news item is reviewed, following the process described in
121 `News Item Quality Control`_.
122
123 3. The news item is committed to a CVS (or Subversion [#glep-36]_) repository.
124 From here, it is merged with the rsync tree. This is described in `News Item
125 Distribution`_.
126
127 4. Users fetch the news item when they sync. This ensures that the news items in
128 question are pushed to the user before the user accidentally makes an
129 unwanted change. No changes to the existing rsync process are required by
130 this GLEP.
131
132 5. The package manager filters the news item and, if it is relevant, marks the
133 news item for reading. The package manager should also display a notice
134 informing the user that there are unread news items.
135
136 6. The news item is handled by the user's choice of news item reader. See `News
137 Item Clients`_.
138
139 Required Portage Enhancements
140 -----------------------------
141
142 The following extensions to Portage are required:
143
144 TODO: ferringb wants spaces added to the first item on the list. I don't,
145 because it makes repo id -> filename mappings nasty.
146
147 * Every repository (including overlays) will require a unique identifier. It is
148 assumed that an identifier will be a string consisting of characters from
149 ``a`` to ``z``, ``A`` to ``Z``, ``0`` to ``9``, ``+`` (plus), ``-`` (hyphen),
150 ``:`` (colon) and ``_`` (underscore).
151
152 * Portage must provide a way for external programs to obtain a list of all
153 repository identifiers for a given system. It is assumed that this will be in
154 the form of a ``portageq`` command (e.g. ``portageq get_repo_ids``).
155
156 * Portage must provide a way for external programs to obtain the base path for
157 a repository with a given ID. It is assumed that this will be in the form of
158 a ``portageq`` command (e.g. ``portageq get_repo_root gentoo-x86``).
159
160 * Portage must extend ``portageq has_version`` to support restrictions to a
161 given repository ID.
162
163 * Portage must extend ``portageq`` to implement a command which returns whether
164 or not the profile used for a given repository ID matches a certain base path
165 (e.g. ``portageq profile_used default-linux/sparc/sparc64/2004.3 gentoo-x86``).
166
167 These extensions are assumed during the following specification.
168
169 News Item Identities
170 --------------------
171
172 Each news item will have a unique identifier. This identifier will be in the
173 form ``yyyy-mm-dd-short-name``, where ``yyyy`` is the year (e.g. ``2005``),
174 ``mm`` is the month (``01`` through ``12``) and dd is the day of the month
175 (``01`` through ``31``). The ``short-name`` is a very short name describing the
176 news item (e.g. ``yoursql-updates``), consisting only of the characters ``a-z``,
177 ``0-9``, ``+`` (plus), ``:`` (colon), ``-`` (hyphen) and ``_`` (underscore).
178
179 News Item Directories
180 ---------------------
181
182 Each news item will be represented by a directory whose name is the same as the
183 news item's identifier.
184
185 The directory will contain a file named ``yyyy-mm-dd-short-name.en.txt``, which
186 contains the text of the news item, in English, in the format described below.
187
188 If a news item is translated, other files named ``yyyy-mm-dd-short-name.xx.txt``
189 (where ``xx`` is the ISO 639 [#iso-639]_ two letter country code) will also be
190 provided. However, only the English version of a news item is authoritative.
191 This anglocentricity is justified by precedent [#glep-34]_.
192
193 News Item Files
194 ---------------
195
196 A news item file is a text file, encoded using UTF-8 [#rfc-3629]_ for
197 compatibility with and for the same reasons as existing Gentoo documentation
198 [#docs-policy]_ and the tree [#glep-31]_.
199
200 News items should be signed with a detached GPG signature: ::
201
202 gpg --armour --detach-sign ????-??-??-*.??.txt
203
204 A news item file's content will consist of an RFC 822 style header [#rfc-822]_
205 followed by the main body of the message as plain text. This GLEP defines
206 various optional and mandatory headers. Future GLEPs may propose new headers —
207 tools handling these news items must ignore any unrecognised header.
208
209 News Item Headers
210 '''''''''''''''''
211
212 The following headers describe the purpose and format of the news item:
213
214 ``Title:``
215 A short (maximum 44 characters) descriptive title. Mandatory.
216
217 ``Author:``
218 Author's name and email address, in the form ``Real Name <email@address>``.
219 Mandatory; multiple author headers may be specified if appropriate.
220
221 ``Translator:``
222 For translated news items, the translator's name and email address. Multiple
223 translator headers may be specified if appropriate.
224
225 ``Content-Type:``
226 Must be ``text/plain``. Mandatory.
227
228 ``Posted:``
229 Date of posting, in ``yyyy-mm-dd`` format (e.g. 2005-12-18) for
230 compatibility with GLEP 45 [#glep-45]_. Mandatory.
231
232 ``Revision:``
233 Initially 1. Incremented every time a non-trivial change is made. Changes
234 which require a re-read of the news item should instead use a new news item
235 file. Mandatory.
236
237 ``News-Item-Format:``
238 Must be ``1.0``. Future revisions to the format may increment the minor
239 number for backwards-compatible changes, or the major number for major
240 changes.
241
242 The following headers are used for filtering:
243
244 ``Display-If-Installed:``
245 A dependency atom or simple package name (for example,
246 ``<dev-lang/php-5_alpha`` or ``net-www/apache``). If the user has the
247 package specified installed from the repository from which the news item was
248 obtained, the news item should be displayed.
249
250 ``Display-If-Keyword:``
251 A keyword [#glep-22]_ name, for example ``mips`` or ``x86-fbsd``. If the
252 user is on the keyword in question, the news item should be displayed.
253
254 ``Display-If-Profile:``
255 A profile path, for example ``default-linux/sparc/sparc64/server``. If the
256 user is using the exact profile in question, or a subprofile of this
257 profile, the news item should be displayed. This header may be used to
258 replace ``deprecated`` files in the future.
259
260 .. Note:: When performing package moves, developers must also update any
261 relevant ``Display-If-Installed`` headers in news files.
262
263 The algorithm used to determine whether a news item is 'relevant' is as
264 follows:
265
266 * For each ``Display-If-`` header type which occurs at least once:
267
268 + The news item is not relevant if none of the headers of this type are
269 successfully matched.
270
271 * Otherwise the news item is relevant.
272
273 In particular, if no ``Display-If-`` header is specified, a news item will be
274 relevant for all users.
275
276 This algorithm was chosen because it makes conditions like "display this news
277 item for ``YourSQL`` users who are on ``sparc`` or ``x86-obsd`` relatively
278 simple to specify — it is believed that these kinds of condition are far more
279 likely to occur than "display this news item for people using ``YourSQL``, or
280 for people on ``sparc`` or ``x86-obsd``\" or "display these news items for
281 people who use ``YourSQL`` and who are on both ``sparc`` and ``x86-obsd``\".
282
283 News Item Body
284 ''''''''''''''
285
286 The header section must be followed by a blank line, then the main body of the
287 text.
288
289 The text body should be wrapped at 72 characters. No fancy formatting or tab
290 characters should be used — the news item may be being displayed directly to a
291 terminal. Paragraphs should be separated by a blank line.
292
293 Hyperlinks may be used to refer to further information (for example, an upgrade
294 guide). However, the main body of the news item should be descriptive and not
295 simply a "read this link" text. It is assumed that the user will have access to
296 a web browser *somewhere*, but not necessarily on the box which is being
297 administrated — this will be the case on may servers and routers, for example.
298
299 Example News Item
300 '''''''''''''''''
301
302 `This hypothetical news item`__ could be used for an upgrade to the
303 ``YourSQL`` database format which breaks forward compatibility.
304
305 .. __: glep-0042-extras/example-news-item.txt
306
307 News Item Quality Control
308 -------------------------
309
310 There have been complaints regarding the comprehensibility of some upgrade
311 notices and news items in the past. This is understandable — not every Gentoo
312 developer speaks English as a first language. However, for the sake of clarity,
313 professionalism and avoiding making us look like prats, it is important that any
314 language problems be corrected before inflicting a news item upon end users.
315
316 Thus, at least 72 hours before a proposed news item is committed, it must be
317 posted to the ``gentoo-dev`` mailing list and ``Cc:``\ed to ``pr@gentoo.org``
318 (exceptions may be made in exceptional circumstances). Any complaints — for
319 example regarding wording, clarity or accuracy — **must** be addressed before
320 the news item goes live.
321
322 .. Note:: A previous draft of this GLEP allowed news items to be sent to
323 ``gentoo-core`` instead of ``gentoo-dev``. It is possible that a situation
324 may arise where this will be necessary (for example, a security update which
325 must break backwards compatibility and which cannot be revealed to the public
326 before a given date).
327
328 News items must only be for **important** changes that may cause serious upgrade
329 or compatibility problems. Ordinary upgrade messages and non-critical news items
330 should remain in ``einfo`` notices. The importance of the message to its
331 intended audience should be justified with the proposal.
332
333 .. Important:: The filtering system means that it is appropriate to send out
334 news items which are aimed at users of an uncommon package or architecture.
335 Thus, the justification should be in the form "this message is important to
336 YourSQL users because ...", not "YourSQL is important because ...".
337
338 News Item Distribution
339 ----------------------
340
341 Server Side
342 '''''''''''
343
344 News items are to be made available via the standard rsync tree. This removes
345 any need for polling of a remote source.
346
347 A new repository will be created for news items. The type (CVS or Subversion),
348 location and access controls on this repository are beyond the scope of this
349 GLEP.
350
351 .. Note:: A previous draft of this GLEP instead used the main ``gentoo-x86``
352 tree. This was changed following advice from Infrastructure
353 [#ramereth-repo]_. Both solutions have the same end result.
354
355 This repository will contain directories named ``yyyy/mm/``, where ``yyyy`` is
356 the current year and ``mm`` is the current month number (01 for January through
357 12 for December). This separation will help keep news items more manageable.
358
359 The contents of this repository will automatically be merged with the main rsync
360 tree, placing the items in a ``metadata/news/`` directory. The method used for
361 merging these items is beyond the scope of this GLEP — a similar setup is
362 already used for merging GLSAs into the rsync tree.
363
364 The main rsync tree will **not** use the ``yyyy/mm/`` subdirectory layout.
365
366 Client Side
367 '''''''''''
368
369 Whenever relevant unread news items are found, the package manager will create a
370 file named ``/var/lib/gentoo/news/news-repoid.unread`` (if it does not
371 already exist) and append the news item identifier (eg
372 ``2005-11-01-yoursql-updates``) on a new line.
373
374 Notification that new relevant news items will be displayed via the
375 ``emerge`` tool in a similar way to the existing "configuration files need
376 updating" messages:
377
378 ::
379
380 * Important: there are 5 unread news items.
381 * Type emerge --help news to learn how to read news files.
382
383 Checks for new news messages should be displayed:
384
385 * After an ``emerge sync``
386 * After an ``emerge --pretend``
387 * Before an ``emerge <target>`` (which may also include a red warning message)
388 * Before an ``emerge --ask <target>`` sequence
389
390 The package manager may use a timestamp check file to avoid having to process
391 news items unnecessarily.
392
393 The package manager must keep track of news items that have already been added
394 to the unread list to avoid repeatedly marking a deleted news item. This could
395 be handled via a ``news-repoid.skip`` file containing the IDs of news items that
396 have already been added to a ``news-repoid.unread`` file, but this method is not
397 required by this GLEP.
398
399 Users who really don't care about news items can use ``rsync_excludes`` to
400 filter out the ``metadata/news/`` directory.
401
402 News Item Clients
403 -----------------
404
405 Once a news item is marked for reading, third party tools (or traditional core
406 Unix tools) can be used to display and view the news files.
407
408 When a news item is read, its name should be removed from the
409 ``news-repoid.unread`` file. If a news client acts as an interactive reader
410 rather than a gateway, it should then add the name to a ``news-repoid.read``
411 file in the same directory with the same file format.
412
413 An ``eselect`` [#eselect]_ module shall be created as the 'suggested' display
414 tool; other display tools (for example, a news to email forwarder, which would
415 be ideal for users who sync on a ``cron``) are left as options for those who
416 desire them.
417
418 News Item Removal
419 -----------------
420
421 News items can be removed (by removing the news file from the main tree) when
422 they are no longer relevant, if they are made obsolete by a future news item or
423 after a long period of time. This is the same as the method used for ``updates``
424 entries.
425
426 Integration with Existing Systems
427 =================================
428
429 It would be simple to convert these news items into the format used for news
430 items on the Gentoo website or posts for the ``gentoo-announce`` mailing list.
431
432 There is an existing automated tool [#forums-glsa]_ for posting GLSAs to the
433 forums. A similar tool can be used for these news items.
434
435 Backwards Compatibility
436 =======================
437
438 Backwards compatibility is not a concern here. Existing tools will simply ignore
439 the ``news/`` directory.
440
441 Reference Implementation
442 ========================
443
444 Portage Code
445 ------------
446
447 TODO
448
449 Simple ``eselect`` News Client
450 ------------------------------
451
452 TODO Removed until the exact format details are figured out.
453
454 Simple News to Mail Forwarder
455 -----------------------------
456
457 TODO Removed until the exact format details are figured out.
458
459 Credits
460 =======
461
462 The idea behind notifying users of news updates via Portage comes from Stuart
463 Herbert [#stuart-blog]_.
464
465 Thanks to Lance Albertson, Stephen Bennett, Donnie Berkholz, Grant Goodyear,
466 Brian Harring, Dan Meltzer, Jason Stubbs, Paul de Vrieze and Alec Warner for
467 input. Some of the ideas presented here are theirs, others go completely
468 against their suggestions.
469
470 Example Files
471 =============
472
473 TODO Removed until the exact format details are figured out.
474
475 References
476 ==========
477
478 .. [#bug-11359] Bugzilla Bug 11359
479 "[NEW FEATURE] pkg_postinst/pkg_preinst ewarn/einfo logging",
480 https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=11359
481 .. [#docs-policy] Gentoo XML Guide, Daniel Robbins et al.,
482 http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/xml-guide.xml
483 .. [#eselect] eselect modular framework for configuration and
484 administration utilities,
485 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/eselect/index.xml
486 .. [#forums-glsa] Forums user GLSA,
487 http://forums.gentoo.org/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=55648
488 .. [#forums-apache2] Forums thread "Gentoo Apache2 Config Change Idiocy",
489 http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-384368.html
490 .. [#glep-22] GLEP 22: "New "keyword" system to incorporate various
491 userlands/kernels/archs", Grant Goodyear,
492 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0022.html
493 .. [#glep-31] GLEP 31: "Character Sets for Portage Tree Items", Ciaran
494 McCreesh,
495 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0031.html
496 .. [#glep-34] GLEP 34: "Per-Category metadata.xml Files", Ciaran McCreesh,
497 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0034.html
498 .. [#glep-36] GLEP 36: "Subversion/CVS for Gentoo Hosted Projects", Aaron
499 Walker,
500 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0036.html
501 .. [#glep-45] GLEP 45: "GLEP date format", Henrik Brix Andersen,
502 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0045.html
503 .. [#iso-639] ISO 639 "Code for the representation of names of languages"
504 .. [#ramereth-repo] "Re: [gentoo-dev] GLEP ??: Critical News Reporting", Lance
505 Albertson,
506 http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=gentoo-dev&m=113111585907703&w=2
507 .. [#rfc-822] RFC 822 "Standard for the format of ARPA Internet text messages"
508 .. [#rfc-3629] RFC 3629: "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO 10646"
509 http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3629.txt
510 .. [#stuart-blog] "Favouring an automatic news mechanism", Stuart Herbert,
511 http://stu.gnqs.org/diary/gentoo.php/2005/10/28/favouring_an_automatic_news_mechanism
512
513 Copyright
514 =========
515
516 This document has been placed in the public domain.
517
518 .. vim: set tw=80 fileencoding=utf-8 spell spelllang=en et :

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