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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, 13-Dec-2005
12 Abstract
13 ========
15 This GLEP proposes a new way of informing users about important updates and news
16 regarding tree-related items.
18 Motivation
19 ==========
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.
26 There are currently several ways of delivering important news items to our
27 users, none of them particularly effective:
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``
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.
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]_.
44 Requirements
45 ============
47 An adequate solution must meet all of the following requirements:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
88 The following characteristics would be desirable:
90 Internationalisable
91 Being able to provide messages in multiple languages may be beneficial.
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.
98 Simple for developers
99 Posting news items should be as simple as is reasonably possible.
101 Simple for users
102 Reading relevant news items should be as simple as is reasonably possible.
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.
110 Specification
111 =============
113 Overview
114 --------
116 News items are published and delivered to users as follows:
118 1. A news item is written. The format to be used is described below.
120 2. The news item is reviewed, following the process described in
121 `News Item Quality Control`_.
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`_.
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.
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.
136 6. The news item is handled by the user's choice of news item reader. See `News
137 Item Clients`_.
139 News Item Identities
140 --------------------
142 Each news item will have a unique identifier. This identifier will be in the
143 form ``yyyy-mm-dd-short-name``, where ``yyyy`` is the year (e.g. ``2005``),
144 ``mm`` is the month (``01`` through ``12``) and dd is the day of the month
145 (``01`` through ``31``). The ``short-name`` is a very short name describing the
146 news item (e.g. ``yoursql-updates``), consisting only of the characters ``a-z``,
147 ``0-9``, ``+`` (plus), ``:`` (colon) and ``-`` (hyphen).
149 News Item Directories
150 ---------------------
152 Each news item will be represented by a directory whose name is the same as the
153 news item's identifier.
155 The directory will contain a file named ``yyyy-mm-dd-short-name.en.txt``, which
156 contains the text of the news item, in English, in the format described below.
158 If a news item is translated, other files named ``yyyy-mm-dd-short-name.xx.txt``
159 (where ``xx`` is the ISO 639 [#iso-639]_ two letter country code) will also be
160 provided. However, only the English version of a news item is authoritative.
161 This anglocentricity is justified by precedent [#glep-34]_.
163 News Item Files
164 ---------------
166 A news item file is a text file, encoded using UTF-8 [#rfc-3629]_ for
167 compatibility with and for the same reasons as existing Gentoo documentation
168 [#docs-policy]_ and the tree [#glep-31]_.
170 News items should be signed with a detached GPG signature: ::
172 gpg --armour --detach-sign ????-??-??-*.??.txt
174 A news item file's content will consist of an RFC 822 style header [#rfc-822]_
175 followed by the main body of the message as plain text. This GLEP defines
176 various optional and mandatory headers. Future GLEPs may propose new headers —
177 tools handling these news items must ignore any unrecognised header.
179 News Item Headers
180 '''''''''''''''''
182 The following headers describe the purpose and format of the news item:
184 ``Title:``
185 A short (maximum 44 characters) descriptive title. Mandatory.
187 ``Author:``
188 Author's name and email address, in the form ``Real Name <email@address>``.
189 Mandatory; multiple author headers may be specified if appropriate.
191 ``Translator:``
192 For translated news items, the translator's name and email address. Multiple
193 translator headers may be specified if appropriate.
195 ``Content-Type:``
196 Must be ``text/plain``. Mandatory.
198 ``Posted:``
199 Date of posting, in ``dd-mmm-yyyy`` format (e.g. 14-Aug-2001) for
200 compatibility with GLEP 1 [#glep-1]_. UTC time in ``hh-mm-ss +0000`` format
201 may also be included. Mandatory.
203 ``Revision:``
204 Initially 1. Incremented every time a non-trivial change is made. Changes
205 which require a re-read of the news item should instead use a new news item
206 file. Mandatory.
208 ``News-Item-Format:``
209 Must be ``1.0``. Future revisions to the format may increment the minor
210 number for backwards-compatible changes, or the major number for major
211 changes.
213 The following headers are used for filtering:
215 ``Display-If-Installed:``
216 A dependency atom or simple package name (for example,
217 ``<dev-lang/php-5_alpha`` or ``net-www/apache``). If the user has the
218 package specified installed, the news item should be displayed.
220 ``Display-If-Keyword:``
221 A keyword [#glep-22]_ name, for example ``mips`` or ``x86-fbsd``. If the
222 user is on the keyword in question, the news item should be displayed.
224 ``Display-If-Profile:``
225 A profile path, for example ``default-linux/sparc/sparc64/server``. Standard
226 shell GLOB wildcards may be used. If the user is using the exact profile in
227 question, the news item should be displayed. This header may be used to
228 replace ``deprecated`` files in the future.
230 .. Note:: When performing package moves, developers must also update any
231 relevant ``Display-If-Installed`` headers in news files.
233 The algorithm used to determine whether a news item is 'relevant' is as
234 follows:
236 * For each ``Display-If-`` header type which occurs at least once:
238 + The news item is not relevant if none of the headers of this type are
239 successfully matched.
241 * Otherwise the news item is relevant.
243 In particular, if no ``Display-If-`` header is specified, a news item will be
244 relevant for all users.
246 This algorithm was chosen because it makes conditions like "display this news
247 item for ``YourSQL`` users who are on ``sparc`` or ``x86-obsd`` relatively
248 simple to specify — it is believed that these kinds of condition are far more
249 likely to occur than "display this news item for people using ``YourSQL``, or
250 for people on ``sparc`` or ``x86-obsd``\" or "display these news items for
251 people who use ``YourSQL`` and who are on both ``sparc`` and ``x86-obsd``\".
253 News Item Body
254 ''''''''''''''
256 The header section must be followed by a blank line, then the main body of the
257 text.
259 The text body should be wrapped at 72 characters. No fancy formatting or tab
260 characters should be used — the news item may be being displayed directly to a
261 terminal. Paragraphs should be separated by a blank line.
263 Hyperlinks may be used to refer to further information (for example, an upgrade
264 guide). However, the main body of the news item should be descriptive and not
265 simply a "read this link" text. It is assumed that the user will have access to
266 a web browser *somewhere*, but not necessarily on the box which is being
267 administrated — this will be the case on may servers and routers, for example.
269 Example News Item
270 '''''''''''''''''
272 `This hypothetical news item`__ could be used for an upgrade to the
273 ``YourSQL`` database format which breaks forward compatibility.
275 .. __: glep-0042-extras/example-news-item.txt
277 News Item Quality Control
278 -------------------------
280 There have been complaints regarding the comprehensibility of some upgrade
281 notices and news items in the past. This is understandable — not every Gentoo
282 developer speaks English as a first language. However, for the sake of clarity,
283 professionalism and avoiding making us look like prats, it is important that any
284 language problems be corrected before inflicting a news item upon end users.
286 Thus, at least 72 hours before a proposed news item is committed, it must be
287 posted to the ``gentoo-dev`` mailing list and ``Cc:``\ed to ``pr@gentoo.org``
288 (exceptions may be made in exceptional circumstances). Any complaints — for
289 example regarding wording, clarity or accuracy — **must** be addressed before
290 the news item goes live.
292 .. Note:: A previous draft of this GLEP allowed news items to be sent to
293 ``gentoo-core`` instead of ``gentoo-dev``. It is possible that a situation
294 may arise where this will be necessary (for example, a security update which
295 must break backwards compatibility and which cannot be revealed to the public
296 before a given date).
298 News items must only be for **important** changes that may cause serious upgrade
299 or compatibility problems. Ordinary upgrade messages and non-critical news items
300 should remain in ``einfo`` notices. The importance of the message to its
301 intended audience should be justified with the proposal.
303 .. Important:: The filtering system means that it is appropriate to send out
304 news items which are aimed at users of an uncommon package or architecture.
305 Thus, the justification should be in the form "this message is important to
306 YourSQL users because ...", not "YourSQL is important because ...".
308 News Item Distribution
309 ----------------------
311 Server Side
312 '''''''''''
314 News items are to be made available via the standard rsync tree. This removes
315 any need for polling of a remote source.
317 A new repository will be created for news items. The type (CVS or Subversion),
318 location and access controls on this repository are beyond the scope of this
319 GLEP.
321 .. Note:: A previous draft of this GLEP instead used the main ``gentoo-x86``
322 tree. This was changed following advice from Infrastructure
323 [#ramereth-repo]_. Both solutions have the same end result.
325 This repository will contain directories named ``yyyy/mm/``, where ``yyyy`` is
326 the current year and ``mm`` is the current month number (01 for January through
327 12 for December). This separation will help keep news items more manageable.
329 The contents of this repository will automatically be merged with the main rsync
330 tree, placing the items in a ``metadata/news/`` directory. The method used for
331 merging these items is beyond the scope of this GLEP — a similar setup is
332 already used for merging GLSAs into the rsync tree.
334 The main rsync tree will **not** use the ``yyyy/mm/`` subdirectory layout.
336 Client Side
337 '''''''''''
339 Whenever relevant unread news items are found, the package manager will create a
340 file named ``/var/lib/gentoo/news/news-magic-chicken.unread`` (if it does not
341 already exist) and append the news item identifier (eg
342 ``2005-11-01-yoursql-updates``) on a new line.
344 .. Note:: Future changes to Portage involving support for multiple repositories
345 may introduce repository names. In this case, the ``magic-chicken`` part of the
346 filename should be replaced by a string representation of the repository
347 name. Thus, news item clients should use a wildcard rather than hardcoding
348 the ``magic-chicken`` string.
350 Notification that new relevant news items will be displayed via the
351 ``emerge`` tool in a similar way to the existing "configuration files need
352 updating" messages:
354 ::
356 * Important: there are 5 unread news items.
357 * Type emerge --help news to learn how to read news files.
359 Checks for new news messages should be displayed:
361 * After an ``emerge sync``
362 * After an ``emerge --pretend``
363 * Before an ``emerge <target>`` (which may also include a red warning message)
364 * Before an ``emerge --ask <target>`` sequence
366 The package manager may use a timestamp check file to avoid having to process
367 news items unnecessarily.
369 The package manager must keep track of news items that have already been added
370 to the unread list to avoid repeatedly marking a deleted news item. This could
371 be handled via a ``news-magic-chicken.skip`` file, but implementation is not
372 specified by this GLEP.
374 Users who really don't care about news items can use ``rsync_excludes`` to
375 filter out the ``metadata/news/`` directory.
377 News Item Clients
378 -----------------
380 Once a news item is marked for reading, third party tools (or traditional core
381 Unix tools) can be used to display and view the news files.
383 When a news item is read, its name should be removed from the
384 ``news-magic-chicken.unread`` file. If a news client acts as an interactive
385 reader rather than a gateway, it should then add the name to a
386 ``news-magic-chicken.read`` file in the same directory with the same file
387 format (again, ``magic-chicken`` should be a wildcard rather than hardcoded).
389 An ``eselect`` [#eselect]_ module shall be created as the 'suggested' display
390 tool; other display tools (for example, a news to email forwarder, which would
391 be ideal for users who sync on a ``cron``) are left as options for those who
392 desire them.
394 News Item Removal
395 -----------------
397 News items can be removed (by removing the news file from the main tree) when
398 they are no longer relevant, if they are made obsolete by a future news item or
399 after a long period of time. This is the same as the method used for ``updates``
400 entries.
402 Integration with Existing Systems
403 =================================
405 It would be simple to convert these news items into the format used for news
406 items on the Gentoo website or posts for the ``gentoo-announce`` mailing list.
408 There is an existing automated tool [#forums-glsa]_ for posting GLSAs to the
409 forums. A similar tool can be used for these news items.
411 Backwards Compatibility
412 =======================
414 Backwards compatibility is not a concern here. Existing tools will simply ignore
415 the ``news/`` directory.
417 Reference Implementation
418 ========================
420 Portage Code
421 ------------
423 TODO
425 Simple ``eselect`` News Client
426 ------------------------------
428 TODO Removed until the exact format details are figured out.
430 Simple News to Mail Forwarder
431 -----------------------------
433 TODO Removed until the exact format details are figured out.
435 Credits
436 =======
438 The idea behind notifying users of news updates via Portage comes from Stuart
439 Herbert [#stuart-blog]_.
441 Thanks to Lance Albertson, Stephen Bennett, Donnie Berkholz, Grant Goodyear,
442 Brian Harring, Dan Meltzer, Jason Stubbs, Paul de Vrieze and Alec Warner for
443 input. Some of the ideas presented here are theirs, others go completely
444 against their suggestions.
446 Example Files
447 =============
449 TODO Removed until the exact format details are figured out.
451 References
452 ==========
454 .. [#bug-11359] Bugzilla Bug 11359
455 "[NEW FEATURE] pkg_postinst/pkg_preinst ewarn/einfo logging",
456 https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=11359
457 .. [#docs-policy] Gentoo XML Guide, Daniel Robbins et al.,
458 http://www.gentoo.org/doc/en/xml-guide.xml
459 .. [#eselect] eselect modular framework for configuration and
460 administration utilities,
461 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/eselect/index.xml
462 .. [#forums-glsa] Forums user GLSA,
463 http://forums.gentoo.org/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=55648
464 .. [#forums-apache2] Forums thread "Gentoo Apache2 Config Change Idiocy",
465 http://forums.gentoo.org/viewtopic-t-384368.html
466 .. [#glep-1] GLEP 1: "GLEP Purpose and Guidelines", Grant Goodyear,
467 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0001.html
468 .. [#glep-22] GLEP 22: "New "keyword" system to incorporate various
469 userlands/kernels/archs", Grant Goodyear,
470 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0022.html
471 .. [#glep-31] GLEP 31: "Character Sets for Portage Tree Items", Ciaran
472 McCreesh,
473 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0031.html
474 .. [#glep-34] GLEP 34: "Per-Category metadata.xml Files", Ciaran McCreesh,
475 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0034.html
476 .. [#glep-36] GLEP 36: "Subversion/CVS for Gentoo Hosted Projects", Aaron
477 Walker,
478 http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/glep/glep-0036.html
479 .. [#iso-639] ISO 639 "Code for the representation of names of languages"
480 .. [#ramereth-repo] "Re: [gentoo-dev] GLEP ??: Critical News Reporting", Lance
481 Albertson,
482 http://marc.theaimsgroup.com/?l=gentoo-dev&m=113111585907703&w=2
483 .. [#rfc-822] RFC 822 "Standard for the format of ARPA Internet text messages"
484 .. [#rfc-3629] RFC 3629: "UTF-8, a transformation format of ISO 10646"
485 http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc3629.txt
486 .. [#stuart-blog] "Favouring an automatic news mechanism", Stuart Herbert,
487 http://stu.gnqs.org/diary/gentoo.php/2005/10/28/favouring_an_automatic_news_mechanism
489 Copyright
490 =========
492 This document has been placed in the public domain.
494 .. vim: set tw=80 fileencoding=utf-8 spell spelllang=en et :

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