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New glep 42 draft

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
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-5`` 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
35 A more reliable way of getting news of critical updates out to users is required
36 to avoid repeats of the various recent upgrade debacles. This GLEP proposes a
37 solution based around pushing news items out to the user via the ``rsync`` tree.
38
39 .. Important:: This GLEP does not seek to replace or modify ``einfo`` messages
40 which are displayed post-install. That is a separate issue which is handled
41 by ``elog`` [#bug-11359]_.
42
43 Requirements
44 ============
45
46 An adequate solution must meet all of the following requirements:
47
48 Preemptive
49 Users should be told of changes *before* they break a system, not after the
50 damage has already been done. Ideally, the system administrator would be
51 given ample warning to plan difficult upgrades and changes, rather than only
52 being told just before action is necessary.
53
54 No user subscription required
55 It has already been demonstrated [#forums-apache2]_ that many users do not
56 read the ``gentoo-announce`` mailing list or ``RSS`` feeds. A solution which
57 requires subscription has no advantage over current methods.
58
59 No user monitoring required
60 It has already been demonstrated [#forums-apache2]_ that many users do not
61 read news items posted to the Gentoo website, or do not read news items
62 until it is too late. A solution that relies upon active monitoring of a
63 particular source has no advantage over current methods.
64
65 Relevant
66 System administrators who do not use a particular package should not have to
67 read news items which affect purely that package. Some news items may be of
68 relevance to most or all users, but those that are not should not be forced
69 upon users unnecessarily.
70
71 Lightweight
72 It is not reasonable to expect all users to have an MTA, web browser, email
73 client, cron daemon or text processing suite available on their system.
74 Users must not be forced to install unreasonable extra software to be able
75 to read news items.
76
77 No privacy violations
78 Users of the solution should not be required to provide information about
79 their systems (for example, IP addresses or installed packages).
80
81 Multiple delivery method support
82 Some users may wish to view news items via email, some via a terminal and
83 some via a web browser. A solution should either support all of these
84 methods or (better still) make it simple to write clients for displaying
85 news items in different ways.
86
87 The following characteristics would be desirable:
88
89 Internationalisable
90 Being able to provide messages in multiple languages may be beneficial.
91
92 Quality control
93 There should be some way to ensure that badly written or irrelevant messages
94 are not sent out, for example by inexperienced developers or those whose
95 English language skills are below par.
96
97 Simple for developers
98 Posting news items should be as simple as is reasonably possible.
99
100 Simple for users
101 Reading relevant news items should be as simple as is reasonably possible.
102
103 Compatibility with existing and future news sources
104 A news system would ideally be able to be integrated with existing news
105 sources (for example, Forums, GWN, the main Gentoo website) without
106 excessive difficulty. Similarly, easy interoperation with any future news
107 sources should not be precluded.
108
109 Specification
110 =============
111
112 Overview
113 --------
114
115 News items are published and delivered to users as follows:
116
117 1. A news item is written. The format to be used is described below.
118
119 2. The news item is reviewed, following the process described in
120 `News Item Quality Control`_.
121
122 3. The news item is committed to a CVS (or Subversion [#glep-36]_) repository.
123 From here, it is merged with the rsync tree. This is described in `News Item
124 Distribution`_.
125
126 4. Users fetch the news item when they sync. This ensures that the news items in
127 question are pushed to the user before the user accidentally makes an
128 unwanted change. No changes to the existing rsync process are required by
129 this GLEP.
130
131 5. The package manager filters the news item and, if it is relevant, marks the
132 news item for reading. The package manager should also display a notice
133 informing the user that there are unread news items.
134
135 6. The news item is handled by the user's choice of news item reader. See `News
136 Item Clients`_.
137
138 News Item Identities
139 --------------------
140
141 Each news item will have a unique identifier. This identifier will be in the
142 form ``yyyy-mm-dd-short-name``, where ``yyyy`` is the year (e.g. ``2005``),
143 ``mm`` is the month (``01`` through ``12``) and dd is the day of the month
144 (``01`` through ``31``). The ``short-name`` is a very short name describing the
145 news item (e.g. ``yoursql-updates``), consisting only of the characters ``a-z``,
146 ``0-9`` and ``-`` (hyphen).
147
148 News Item Directories
149 ---------------------
150
151 Each news item will be represented by a directory whose name is the same as the
152 news item's identifier.
153
154 The directory will contain a file named ``yyyy-mm-dd-short-name.en.txt``, which
155 contains the text of the news item, in English, in the format described below.
156
157 If a news item is translated, other files named ``yyyy-mm-dd-short-name.xx.txt``
158 (where ``xx`` is the ISO 639 [#iso-639]_ two letter country code) will also be
159 provided. However, only the English version of a news item is authoritative.
160 This anglocentricity is justified by precedent [#glep-34]_.
161
162 News Item Files
163 ---------------
164
165 A news item file is a text file, encoded using UTF-8 [#rfc-3629]_ for
166 compatibility with and for the same reasons as existing Gentoo documentation
167 [#docs-policy]_ and the tree [#glep-31]_.
168
169 News items should be signed with a detached GPG signature: ::
170
171 gpg --armour --detach-sign ????-??-??-*.??.txt
172
173 A news item file's content will consist of an RFC 822 style header [#rfc-822]_
174 followed by the main body of the message as plain text. This GLEP defines
175 various optional and mandatory headers. Future GLEPs may propose new headers —
176 tools handling these news items must ignore any unrecognised header.
177
178 News Item Headers
179 '''''''''''''''''
180
181 The following headers describe the purpose and format of the news item:
182
183 ``Title:``
184 A short (maximum 44 characters) descriptive title. Mandatory.
185
186 ``Author:``
187 Author's name and email address, in the form ``Real Name <email@address>``.
188 Mandatory; multiple author headers may be specified if appropriate.
189
190 ``Translator:``
191 For translated news items, the translator's name and email address. Multiple
192 translator headers may be specified if appropriate.
193
194 ``Content-Type:``
195 Must be ``text/plain``. Mandatory.
196
197 ``Posted:``
198 Date of posting, in ``dd-mmm-yyyy`` format (e.g. 14-Aug-2001) for
199 compatibility with GLEP 1 [#glep-1]_. UTC time in ``hh-mm-ss +0000`` format
200 may also be included. Mandatory.
201
202 ``Revision:``
203 Initially 1. Incremented every time a non-trivial change is made. Changes
204 which require a re-read of the news item should instead use a new news item
205 file. Mandatory.
206
207 ``News-Item-Format:``
208 Must be ``1.0``. Future revisions to the format may increment the minor
209 number for backwards-compatible changes, or the major number for major
210 changes.
211
212 The following headers are used for filtering:
213
214 ``Display-If-Installed:``
215 A dependency atom or simple package name (for example,
216 ``<dev-lang/php-5_alpha`` or ``net-www/apache``). If the user has the
217 package specified installed, the news item should be displayed.
218
219 ``Display-If-Keyword:``
220 A keyword [#glep-22]_ name, for example ``mips`` or ``x86-fbsd``. If the
221 user is on the keyword in question, the news item should be displayed.
222
223 ``Display-If-Profile:``
224 A profile path, for example ``default-linux/sparc/sparc64/server``. Standard
225 shell GLOB wildcards may be used. If the user is using the exact profile in
226 question, the news item should be displayed. This header may be used to
227 replace ``deprecated`` files in the future.
228
229 .. Note:: When performing package moves, developers must also update any
230 relevant ``Display-If-Installed`` headers in news files.
231
232 The algorithm used to determine whether a news item is 'relevant' is as
233 follows:
234
235 * For each ``Display-If-`` header type which occurs at least once:
236
237 + The news item is not relevant if none of the headers of this type are
238 successfully matched.
239
240 * Otherwise the news item is relevant.
241
242 In particular, if no ``Display-If-`` header is specified, a news item will be
243 relevant for all users.
244
245 This algorithm was chosen because it makes conditions like "display this news
246 item for ``YourSQL`` users who are on ``sparc`` or ``x86-obsd`` relatively
247 simple to specify — it is believed that these kinds of condition are far more
248 likely to occur than "display this news item for people using ``YourSQL``, or
249 for people on ``sparc`` or ``x86-obsd``\" or "display these news items for
250 people who use ``YourSQL`` and who are on both ``sparc`` and ``x86-obsd``\".
251
252 News Item Body
253 ''''''''''''''
254
255 The header section must be followed by a blank line, then the main body of the
256 text.
257
258 The text body should be wrapped at 72 characters. No fancy formatting or tab
259 characters should be used — the news item may be being displayed directly to a
260 terminal. Paragraphs should be separated by a blank line.
261
262 Hyperlinks may be used to refer to further information (for example, an upgrade
263 guide). However, the main body of the news item should be descriptive and not
264 simply a "read this link" text. It is assumed that the user will have access to
265 a web browser *somewhere*, but not necessarily on the box which is being
266 administrated — this will be the case on may servers and routers, for example.
267
268 Example News Item
269 '''''''''''''''''
270
271 `This hypothetical news item`__ could be used for an upgrade to the
272 ``YourSQL`` database format which breaks forward compatibility.
273
274 .. __: glep-0042-extras/example-news-item.txt
275
276 News Item Quality Control
277 -------------------------
278
279 There have been complaints regarding the comprehensibility of some upgrade
280 notices and news items in the past. This is understandable — not every Gentoo
281 developer speaks English as a first language. However, for the sake of clarity,
282 professionalism and avoiding making us look like prats, it is important that any
283 language problems be corrected before inflicting a news item upon end users.
284
285 Thus, at least 72 hours before a proposed news item is committed, it must be
286 posted to the ``gentoo-dev`` mailing list and ``Cc:``\ed to ``pr@gentoo.org``
287 (exceptions may be made in exceptional circumstances). Any complaints — for
288 example regarding wording, clarity or accuracy — **must** be addressed before
289 the news item goes live.
290
291 .. Note:: A previous draft of this GLEP allowed news items to be sent to
292 ``gentoo-core`` instead of ``gentoo-dev``. It is possible that a situation
293 may arise where this will be necessary (for example, a security update which
294 must break backwards compatibility and which cannot be revealed to the public
295 before a given date).
296
297 News items must only be for **important** changes that may cause serious upgrade
298 or compatibility problems. Ordinary upgrade messages and non-critical news items
299 should remain in ``einfo`` notices. The importance of the message to its
300 intended audience should be justified with the proposal.
301
302 .. Important:: The filtering system means that it is appropriate to send out
303 news items which are aimed at users of an uncommon package or architecture.
304 Thus, the justification should be in the form "this message is important to
305 YourSQL users because ...", not "YourSQL is important because ...".
306
307 News Item Distribution
308 ----------------------
309
310 Server Side
311 '''''''''''
312
313 News items are to be made available via the standard rsync tree. This removes
314 any need for polling of a remote source.
315
316 A new repository will be created for news items. The type (CVS or Subversion),
317 location and access controls on this repository are beyond the scope of this
318 GLEP.
319
320 .. Note:: A previous draft of this GLEP instead used the main ``gentoo-x86``
321 tree. This was changed following advice from Infrastructure
322 [#ramereth-repo]_. Both solutions have the same end result.
323
324 This repository will contain directories named ``yyyy/mm/``, where ``yyyy`` is
325 the current year and ``mm`` is the current month number (01 for January through
326 12 for December). This separation will help keep news items more manageable.
327
328 The contents of this repository will automatically be merged with the main rsync
329 tree, placing the items in a ``metadata/news/`` directory. The method used for
330 merging these items is beyond the scope of this GLEP — a similar setup is
331 already used for merging GLSAs into the rsync tree.
332
333 The main rsync tree will **not** use the ``yyyy/mm/`` subdirectory layout.
334
335 Client Side
336 '''''''''''
337
338 Whenever relevant unread news items are found, the package manager will create a
339 file named ``/var/lib/portage/news/news.unread`` (if it does not already exist)
340 and append the news item identifier (eg ``2005-11-01-yoursql-updates``) on a new
341 line.
342
343 .. Note:: Future changes to Portage involving support for multiple repositories
344 may require one news list per repository. Assuming repositories have some
345 kind of unique identifier, this file could be named ``news-repoid.unread``.
346
347 Notification that new relevant news items will be displayed via the
348 ``emerge`` tool in a similar way to the existing "configuration files need
349 updating" messages:
350
351 ::
352
353 * Important: there are 5 unread news items.
354 * Type emerge --help news to learn how to read news files.
355
356 Checks for new news messages should be displayed:
357
358 * After an ``emerge sync``
359 * After an ``emerge --pretend``
360 * Before an ``emerge <target>`` (which may also include a red warning message)
361
362 The package manager may use a timestamp check file to avoid having to process
363 news items unnecessarily.
364
365 The package manager must keep track of news items that have already been added
366 to the unread list to avoid repeatedly marking a deleted news item. This could
367 be handled via a ``news.skip`` file, but implementation is not specified by this
368 GLEP.
369
370 Users who really don't care about news items can use ``rsync_excludes`` to
371 filter out the ``metadata/news/`` directory.
372
373 News Item Clients
374 -----------------
375
376 Once a news item is marked for reading, third party tools (or traditional core
377 Unix tools) can be used to display and view the news files.
378
379 When a news item is read, its name should be removed from the ``news.unread``
380 file. News clients may add the name to a ``news.read`` file in the same
381 directory with the same file format.
382
383 An ``eselect`` [#eselect]_ module shall be created as the 'suggested' display
384 tool; other display tools (for example, a news to email forwarder, which would
385 be ideal for users who sync on a ``cron``) are left as options for those who
386 desire them.
387
388 News Item Removal
389 -----------------
390
391 News items can be removed (by removing the news file from the main tree) when
392 they are no longer relevant, if they are made obsolete by a future news item or
393 after a long period of time. This is the same as the method used for ``updates``
394 entries.
395
396 Integration with Existing Systems
397 =================================
398
399 It would be simple to convert these news items into the format used for news
400 items on the Gentoo website or posts for the ``gentoo-announce`` mailing list.
401
402 There is an existing automated tool [#forums-glsa]_ for posting GLSAs to the
403 forums. A similar tool can be used for these news items.
404
405 Backwards Compatibility
406 =======================
407
408 Backwards compatibility is not a concern here. Existing tools will simply ignore
409 the ``news/`` directory.
410
411 Reference Implementation
412 ========================
413
414 Portage Code
415 ------------
416
417 TODO
418
419 Simple ``eselect`` News Client
420 ------------------------------
421
422 TODO Removed until the exact format details are figured out.
423
424 Simple News to Mail Forwarder
425 -----------------------------
426
427 TODO Removed until the exact format details are figured out.
428
429 Credits
430 =======
431
432 The idea behind notifying users of news updates via Portage comes from Stuart
433 Herbert [#stuart-blog]_.
434
435 Thanks to Lance Albertson, Stephen Bennett, Donnie Berkholz, Grant Goodyear,
436 Brian Harring, Dan Meltzer, Jason Stubbs, Paul de Vrieze and Alec Warner for
437 input. Some of the ideas presented here are theirs, others go completely
438 against their suggestions.
439
440 Example Files
441 =============
442
443 TODO Removed until the exact format details are figured out.
444
445 References
446 ==========
447
448 .. [#bug-11359] Bugzilla Bug 11359
449 "[NEW FEATURE] pkg_postinst/pkg_preinst ewarn/einfo logging",
450 https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=11359
451 .. [#docs-policy] Gentoo XML Guide, Daniel Robbins et al.,
452 http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/xml-guide.xml
453 .. [#eselect] eselect modular framework for configuration and
454 administration utilities,
455 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/eselect/index.xml
456 .. [#forums-glsa] Forums user GLSA,
457 http://forums.gentoo.org/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=55648
458 .. [#forums-apache2] Forums thread "Gentoo Apache2 Config Change Idiocy",
459 http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-384368.html
460 .. [#glep-1] GLEP 1: "GLEP Purpose and Guidelines", Grant Goodyear,
461 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0001.html
462 .. [#glep-22] GLEP 22: "New "keyword" system to incorporate various
463 userlands/kernels/archs", Grant Goodyear,
464 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0022.html
465 .. [#glep-31] GLEP 31: "Character Sets for Portage Tree Items", Ciaran
466 McCreesh,
467 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0031.html
468 .. [#glep-34] GLEP 34: "Per-Category metadata.xml Files", Ciaran McCreesh,
469 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0034.html
470 .. [#glep-36] GLEP 36: "Subversion/CVS for Gentoo Hosted Projects", Aaron
471 Walker,
472 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0036.html
473 .. [#iso-639] ISO 639 "Code for the representation of names of languages"
474 .. [#ramereth-repo] "Re: [gentoo-dev] GLEP ??: Critical News Reporting", Lance
475 Albertson,
476 http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=gentoo-dev&m=113111585907703&w=2
477 .. [#rfc-822] RFC 822 "Standard for the format of ARPA Internet text messages"
478 .. [#rfc-3629] RFC 3629: "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO 10646"
479 http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3629.txt
480 .. [#stuart-blog] "Favouring an automatic news mechanism", Stuart Herbert,
481 http://stu.gnqs.org/diary/gentoo.php/2005/10/28/favouring_an_automatic_news_mechanism
482
483 Copyright
484 =========
485
486 This document has been placed in the public domain.
487
488 .. vim: set tw=80 fileencoding=utf-8 spell spelllang=en et :

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