[Dev] Parabola Newsletter August 2016

Luke Shumaker lukeshu at sbcglobal.net
Sat Aug 20 21:25:37 GMT 2016

Parabola Newsletter for August 2016

Things that have happened since July's newsletter:

 - proton.parabola.nu performance issues resolved

   Proton is the server that most of the Parabola services are
   currently on (the notable exception being git, which is on
   Winston)... but had been suffering from severe performance issues
   for several months.

   The short version of the story is that it's Luke Shumaker's fault.
   We've known for a while that the performance issues were related to
   terrible disk I/O performance.  It turns out that the root cause of
   this was unionfs, which was set up by Luke.  What we don't know is
   why this only became an issue recently; unionfs had been in place
   on the server for more than a year before it ever became an issue.
   The resolution was detailed on the mailing list when it
   happened[0]; the short version is that we configured all of the
   software to bypass unionfs if possible without extensive patching.

   [0]: https://lists.parabola.nu/pipermail/dev/2016-July/004242.html

 - Repomirror is prime-time

   Related to reducing the load on Proton, repo.parabola.nu now
   redirects to repomirror.parabola.nu unless it sees "noredirect" in
   the HTTP query string.

 - Experiments with Configuration Management Systems

   Last month we wrote that we'd been writing extensive documentation
   on how winston.parabola.nu was being configured.

   To be able to easily tranfer parts of this between the two servers,
   Luke Shumaker thought it would be neat to use a configuration
   management system to have each section of the documentation be a
   module that can be installed.

   We evaluated Holo[1], which creates configuration modules that are
   native system packages.  However, the syntax didn't seem offer much
   beyond what could easily be done in a PKGBUILD (though it would be
   valueable for dpkg or rpm based systems), so we opted to just write

   We have a repository of configuration modules on Winston[2], and
   have deployed several of them on both Winston and Proton.

   Doing this, we have become aware of several shortcomings of the
   approach; namely being able to edit files owned by other packages,
   such as /etc/passwd.  Holo provides methods for this, which we may
   end up adopting; however, for now Holo's mechanisms seem to
   "magical", while still not providing a mechanism to say, chown a
   directory to a different user.

   The PKGBUILDs are written in a litterate style; the body of them is
   copied directly from the documentation they are based on.  We would
   like to be able to process them back into wiki articles, and have
   the whole thing be automated; having only a single source of truth.

   [1]: http://holocm.org/
   [2]: https://winston.parabola.nu/config/

 - FISL17 conference

   As mentioned in July's newsletter, Parabola participated as planned
   in the FISL conference on July 13-16.

   André Silva ("Emulatorman") and Márcio Silva ("coadde") presented
   on July 13, at 16:00 (UTC-3).

   Video/slides should be online (on the wiki) soon-ish.

 - Software e Cultura no Brasil seminary

   Parabola participated in Software e Cultura no Brasil, the Free
   Software seminary organized by the Federal University of ABC in São
   Bernardo do Campo, Brazil on August 15-16 2016.

   André Silva ("Emulatorman") presented on August 16, at 10:00

   Video/slides should be online (on the wiki) soon-ish.

   (If Luke Shumaker had his shit together and published the
   newsletter on a reasonable date, we would be announcing that we
   would be participating, not that we had already participated.)

 - notsystemd

   As part of the "nonsystemd" initiative to make Parabola work well
   with init systems other than systemd, Luke Shumaker has been
   working on a fork of systemd called "notsystemd"[3], in the spirit
   of Gentoo's eudev[4] or GuixSD's elogind[5], but larger in scope.
   The goal of notsystemd is to take each of the many components of
   systemd, and decouple them, making them each usable on its own,
   without the rest of systemd.  To paraphrase the elogind
   documentation, we think than many of these components are
   excellent, and that everyone deserves to run them if they like,
   regardless of their choice of PID1.

   More concrete motivation for this is that the Parabla developer
   tools "libretools" are build on systemd-nspawn, and we would like
   to be able to use the tools on OpenRC systems.

   This has been going on for a while now, but hadn't been written
   about.  It is not ready yet, and we don't have a timeline in place.

   [3]: https://git.parabola.nu/~lukeshu/systemd.git/tree/?h=notsystemd/master
   [4]: https://github.com/gentoo/eudev / https://www.parabola.nu/packages/pcr/x86_64/eudev/
   [5]: https://github.com/wingo/elogind / https://www.parabola.nu/packages/pcr/x86_64/elogind/

Things that we hoped to do since the last newsletter that we didn't

 - autobuilder

   Just didn't get around to it.

Things that we hope to accomplish in the next month:

 - autobuilder (for real)

   (to copy/paste from July's newsletter)

   Hopefully we'll get autobuilder running on winston soon, to relieve
   pressure on Parabola developers with simple packages like
   parabola-keyring, your-freedom, et c.

   As of right now, there are no concrete plans to turn autobuilder
   into a more complete build server, but that is something we are
   interested in doing in the future.


 - Migrate more things from Proton to Winston.

   Winston's just generally a beefier server (more RAM, more cores).
   Moving things to it would be nice.

the Parabola development team

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