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Highlights of YaST development sprint 29

December 22nd, 2016 by

It’s Christmas time and since (open)SUSE users have been nice, the YaST team brings some gifts for them. This is the result of the last development sprint of 2016.

As you may have noticed, in the latest sprints we have been focusing more and more in making SUSE CASP possible. That’s even more obvious in this last sprint of the year. For those that have not been following this blog recently, it’s probably worth to remember that SUSE CASP will be a Kubernetes based Container As a Service Platform.

But our daily work goes beyond CASP, so let’s take a look to all the highlights.

More improvements in the management of DHCLIENT_SET_HOSTNAME

In the previous report we presented the changes introduced in yast2-network to make the configuration parameter DHCLIENT_SET_HOSTNAME configurable in a per-interface basis.

One of the great things about working in an agile an iterative way, presenting and evaluating the result every three weeks, is that it allows us to detect room for improvements in our work. In this case we noticed some discrepancy in the expectations of Linuxrc and yast2-network and also some room for improvement in the code documentation and in the help texts.

Thus, we used this sprint to refine the work done in the previous one and tackle those problems down.

Improved error message

Ensure installation of needed packages

Another example of iterative development. We already presented in the report of the 26th development sprint a new mechanism to detect when the user had deselected during installation some package that was previously pre-selected by YaST in order to install the bootloader. Since the new functionality proved to work nicely, we decided to extend it to cover other parts of the system beyond the bootloader.

The software proposal now contains an error message including a list of missing packages or patterns, in case the user deselects some needed items.

Warning about missing packages

After clicking the Install button the installation is blocked, the user must resolve the problem either by selecting the packages back or by adjusting the respective YaST configuration (e.g. do not install any bootloader and disable the firewall).

Blocking an incomplete installation

Rethinking the expert partitioner

May we insist one more time on the topic of using Scrum to organize our work in an iterative way? ūüėČ As our usual readers should already know, we structure the work into minimal units that produce a valuable outcome called PBIs in Scrum jargon. That valuable outcome doesn’t always have to be a piece of software, an implemented feature or a fixed bug. Sometimes a document adds value to YaST, specially if it can be used as base to collaborate with people outside the team.

Our readers also know that we are putting a lot of effort in rewriting the whole storage layer of YaST. That also implies rewriting the most powerful tool known by humanity to define partitions, volumes, RAIDs and similar stuff – the YaST expert partitioner.

It would be great if we could use the opportunity to make it both more powerful and more usable. You can take the first part for granted, but we are not so sure about our UI design skills. That’s why we wanted to have a base to discuss possible changes and alternative approaches with UX (user experience) experts. And we decided that it was worth to invest some time to create a document collecting the state of the art and some ideas for the future and to send that to SUSE experts in UX and to anybody with some interest in the topic.

Here you can find that fine piece of documentation. Take a look to that document if you want to peek into YaST developers’ mind. That’s the kind of stuff we discuss when we are about to start rewriting something… specially something that need to serve hundreds of different use cases.

And of course we would like to know your ideas or thoughts. We usually discuss this stuff at the public #yast IRC channel and at the yast-devel mailing list. But if you prefer so, you can simply open an issue at the repository hosting the document. Whatever works for you.

Rethinking yast2-network

But that was not the only documentation PBI finished during this sprint. Inspired by the first fruits of the storage layer reimplementation, we decided yast2-network also deserves a reincarnation.

As we did in the past with yast2-storage and libstorage, the first step is to collect as much information as possible about what can be currently done with the module and how it behaves in several situations, specially in tricky or complex scenarios. The outcome was three documents, one about the behavior during installation (installation.md), a second one about AutoYaST (autoinstallation.md) and another collecting general features (features.md).

CASP: merged dialogs for root password and keyboard layout

CASP is a product targeted to a quite specific use case with simplicity as a main priority. The installation process has been streamlined to a minimal set of dialogs to configure just the very basic stuff. Among other removed things, there is no step to configure the system language. That can be a problem when entering the root password (the only user that will be created during installation), since the language settings screen is normally also used to select the keyboard layout.

The implemented solution is shown in the screenshot below. As you can see, the keyboard layout and root passwords selections are merged into a single step. As a bonus, we made both widgets more reusable, opening the possibility to place the root password widget or the keyboard layout selection anywhere.

Keyboard layout and root password screen

Storage reimplementation: handling GPT disks in the installation proposal

After several sprints reporting small steps forward, in the 27th sprint we were happy to announce that our testing ISO for the new storage stack was fully installable under certain circumstances. As we reported, it worked in UEFI or legacy systems with the only requirement of having a pre-existing MBR partition table in the disk.

Now we can say it also works with GPT partition tables and even with systems with a mixture of both technologies.

Making the GPT scenario work was much harder that it sounds due to several factors, like the strange way in which parted handles partition types in GPT or some peculiarities in the way the space is distributed in such partition tables.

But now our test ISO can install a fully functional system in the four combinations of MBR/GPT partition table and UEFI/Legacy boot, as it can be seen in the next image.

Storage proposal in several scenarios

The storage reimplementation gets its own openQA instance

But there are better ways than screenshots to prove that something is working, even to prove it keeps working after future modifications. And in (open)SUSE we have one of the best tools for that – openQA.

We have always considered having the new stack tested in openQA as the first big milestone in its development (and we are finally there!) but we are aware that openQA.opensuse.org is already quite busy testing a huge combination of products, architectures and scenarios… even testing releases of openQA itself. Fortunately openQA is free software and can be installed anywhere so we created our own instance of openQA to test YaST stuff, specially the new storage layer.

So far, that instance is hosted in the internal SUSE network, which is enough for us to get continuous feedback about the changes we introduce. In addition to installing the new instance and configuring it to continuously grab and check the latest testing ISO, we had to introduce several changes in the ISO itself with the goal of keeping our tests as aligned as possible with the tests performed in the current Tumbleweed version by openQA.opensuse.org.

For example, we made sure the ISO was properly signed to avoid the need to always pass the insecure=1 boot argument. We also included several packages that were missing in order to make sure the ISO included all the software checked during the so-called MinimalX test and to make sure it shared the look and feel with a regular Tumbleweed, since many openQA checks are screenshot-based.

From now on, we can back every new feature with the corresponding integration tests, something crucial to ensure the quality of a piece of software meant to handle storage hardware.

Making Snapper work without DBus

As you may know, some YaST team members are also the main developers and maintainers of Snapper, the ultimate file-system snapshot tool for GNU/Linux systems.

Normally the snapper command line tool uses DBus to connect to snapperd which does most of the actual work. This allows non-root users to work with snapper.

There are however situations when using DBus is not possible and not being able to work in those situations was limiting Snapper’s usefulness. Now with the latest version all snapper commands support the ‚Äďno-dbus option. This evolution is worth a blog post by itself… and, of course, we have it. To know all the details check this post at Snapper’s blog.

CASP (and beyond): improved roles

Do you remember the system roles feature introduced during development sprint 16 and improved in subsequent sprints? In case you don’t, let us remind you that system roles allow to define many settings of the installation just by choosing one of the offered roles. That’s only possible, of course, in products making use of that feature, like SLES.

For CASP we will have 3 different roles, as shown in the following screenshot.

CASP system roles

The main difference between these three roles is the selection of patterns to be installed. But apart from that, the Worker role will offer an extra step during installation allowing the user to specify the address of the so-called Administration Dashboard.

Configuration screen for the Worker role

That relatively small detail implied the development of a full new feature in the installer – the ability of a given role to define it’s own specific configuration, including the dialog to interact with the user. As expected from any other installation dialog, you can go back and forward without loosing the entered information. If the user goes back and selects a different role, then this additional dialog is not run again.

That new feature is, of course, not specific to CASP and could eventually be used in other products and roles. Just as a crazy example, openSUSE could decide to introduce a role called “NTP server”, running the YaST NTP server configuration right after the user selecting the role.

Other CASP related features

As already said, we have been focusing quite a lot on introducing features that are needed for CASP. It’s worth mentioning, in case it’s still unclear, that CASP will NOT ship its own adapted version of YaST. All the features introduced in the installer are in fact configurable and available for all other products as well. There is only one YaST codebase to rule them all.

Let’s briefly describe some of the introduced CASP-specific (at least for the time being) features.

CASP always uses Btrfs as filesystem for the root partition. At the end of the installation, the root btrfs subvolume will become read-only. All the other subvolumes will stay as read-write, as shown in this screenshot taken right after rebooting at the end of the installation process.

CASP subvolumes

It makes no sense to update from any existing product to CASP. Thus, CASP media should not show an “update” option when booting, even if it’s still possible for advanced users to pass the UPDATE boot parameter. Since we needed to modify the installation-images package, we took the opportunity to make the “update” option and other settings configurable in a per product basis and we unified SLES and openSUSE packages, so now they share a single branch in the source code repository.

CASP is targeted to big deployments extended all over the world. To make possible the synchronization of geographically distributed nodes, the UTC timezone is enforced in every CASP installation. Thus, we implemented support for products to enforce a given timezone in the installer. Take into account this is different from a default timezone.

Last but not least, it has already been mentioned that the CASP installation workflow will have very few steps. That also affects the screen displaying the installations settings summary. In comparison to a regular SLES, some options must disappear because they are not configurable and some other sections must be added because they are not longer presented as a separate previous step. So far, this is the appearance of the installation settings screen in the current CASP prototype.

Installation settings in CASP prototype

…and a surprise about the blog

We also prepared a Christmas gift related to the blog. The technical aspects are solved, but we are ironing out the administrative details. So you will have to wait until the next sprint report to see it in full glory. But, as the Spanish proverb says, “good things are worth waiting for”.

See you next year

That’s enough to report from our December sprint, we don’t want to bore you with every small bug fix. And talking about things that are worth waiting for, our next report will very likely be published at the beginning of February 2017.

That’s because we will put our Scrum process on hold during the Christmas session. We will restart it on the second week of the year, after the visit of the Three Wise Men. In several countries, it’s a tradition that the Three Kings bring gifts to the kids that have been nice, so let’s expect they bring us some new members for the team!

This my code take it! Contributing to Open Source project

August 28th, 2015 by

You want to be an Open Source developer? Want to hack up some nasty code. Make everyone obey your order and take over the world. I was young back when I entered these shallow waters and how green I was back then.. oh boy! (more…)

Testing Android in openQA

January 6th, 2015 by

The other day Richard described in his blog how how he used openQA to test drive Fedora. Around the same time I read about Android x86 and saw that they offer iso images for download. So I wondered how hard it would be to get that one tested in openQA.
(more…)

OpenStack Infra/QA Meetup

July 23rd, 2014 by

Last week, around 30 people from around the world met in Darmstadt, Germany to discuss various things about OpenStack and its automatic testing mechanisms (CI).
The meeting was well-organized by Marc Koderer from Deutsche Telekom.
We were shown plans of what the Telekom intends to do with virtualization in general and OpenStack in particular and the most interesting one to me was to run clouds in dozens of datacenters across Germany, but have a single API for users to access.
There were some introductory sessions about the use of git review and gerrit, that mostly had things I (and I guess the majority of the others) already learned over the years. It included some new parts such as tracking “specs” – specifications (.rst files) in gerrit with proper review by the core reviewers, so that proper processes could already be applied in the design phase to ensure the project is moving in the right direction.

On the second day we learned that the infra team manages servers with puppet, about jenkins-job-builder (jjb) that creates around 4000 jobs from yaml templates. We learned about nodepool that keeps some VMs ready so that jobs in need will not have to wait for them to boot. 180-800 instances is quite an impressive number.
And then we spent three days on discussing and hacking things, the topics and outcomes of which you can find in the etherpad linked from the wiki page.
I got my first infra patch merged, and a SUSE Cloud CI account setup, so that in the future we can test devstack+tempest on openSUSE and have it comment in Gerrit. And maybe some day we can even have a test to deploy crowbar+openstack from git (including the patch from an open review) to provide useful feedback, but for that we might first want to move crowbar (which is consisting of dozens of repos – one for each module) to stackforge – which is the openstack-provided Gerrit hosting.

see also: pleia2’s post

Overall for me it was a nice experience to work together with all these smart people and we certainly had a lot of fun

Code quality and Code guidelines

February 19th, 2014 by

Today I like to take you precious time to talk about thing that get so less attention in open source world. I like to talk little bit about QA and Coding guidelines.
Many reader who are in companies that take care of themselves or are involved some major open source or free software project like KDE, GNOME or Linux kernel knows that they/we have Coding guidelines. KDE have it here and Kernel have it here. So they have them and whats the big deal? (more…)

another way to access a cloud VM’s VNC console

February 8th, 2014 by

If you have used a cloud, that was based on OpenStack, you will have seen the dashboard including a web-based VNC access using noVNC + WebSockets.
However, it was not possible to access this VNC directly (e.g. with my favourite gvncviewer from the gtk-vnc-tools package), because the actual compute nodes are hidden and accessing them would circumvent authentication, too.

I want this for the option to add an OpenStack-backend to openQA, my OS-autotesting framework, which emulates a user by using a few primitives: grabbing screenshots and typing keys (can be done through VNC), powering up a machine(=nova boot), inserting/ejecting an installation medium (=nova volume-attach / volume-detach).

To allow for this, I wrote a small perl script, that translates a TCP-connection into a WebSocket-connection.
It is installed like this
git clone https://github.com/bmwiedemann/connectionproxy.git
sudo /sbin/OneClickInstallUI http://multiymp.zq1.de/perl-Protocol-WebSocket?base=http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/devel:languages:perl

and is used like this
nova get-vnc-console $YOURINSTANCE novnc
perl wsconnectionproxy.pl --port 5942 --to http://cloud.example.com:6080/vnc_auto.html?token=73a3e035-cc28-49b4-9013-a9692671788e
gvncviewer localhost:42

I hope this neat code will be useful for other people and tasks as well and wish you a lot of fun with it.

Some technical details:

  • The code is able to handle multiple connections in a single thread using select.
  • HTTPS is not supported in the code, but likely could be done with stunnel.
  • WebSocket-code was written in 3h.
  • noVNC tokens expire after a few minutes.

spec-cleaner: hide all your precious cruft!

January 31st, 2014 by

As we stated in our communication over the time, our team’s main focus for foreseeable future is Factory and how to manage all those contributions. Goal is not to increase the number of SRs that is coming to Factory, but to make sure we can process more and to make sure we see even well hidden consequences to make sure that Factory is “stable” and “usable”.

sprayg

Not really part of our current sprints, but something that will hopefully help us is spec-cleaner that Tom√°Ň° Chv√°tal and Tom√°Ň° ńĆech were working on lately during their free time/hackweek. What is it trying to address? Currently, there are some packaging guidelines, but when you write a spec file for your software, you still have plenty of choices. How do you order all the information in the header? Do you use curly brackets around macros? Do you use macros? Which ones do you use and which not? Do you use binaries in dependencies? Package config? Perl symbols? Package names? There is format_spec_file obs service that tries to unify a little bit the coding style but leaves quite some of the stuff up to you. Not necessarily a bad thing, but if you have to compare changes and review packages that are using completely different coding styles the process becomes harder and slower.

spec-cleaner is format_spec_file taken to another level. It tries to unify coding style as much as it can. It uses consistent conventions, makes most of the decisions mentioned previously for you and if you already decided for one way in the past, it will try to convert your spec file to follow the conventions that it specifies. It’s not enforcing anything, it’s standalone script and therefore you don’t have to be worried that you spec file will be out of your control. You can run it, verify the result (actually, you should verify the results as there might still be some bugs) and commit it to OBS. If we all do it, our packages will all look more alike and it will be easier to read and review them.

How to try it? How to help? Well, code is on GitHub and packages are in OBS. You may have a version of it in your distribution, but that one is heavily outdated (even the 13.1 version), so add openSUSE:Tools repo and try the version from there.

zypper ar -f obs://openSUSE:Tools/openSUSE_13.1 openSUSE-Tools
zypper in spec-cleaner

You can then go to some local checkout and try what changes does it propose for your spec file. Easiest way is to just let it do stuff by calling it and taking a look at changes afterwards.

spec-cleaner -p -i *.spec
osc diff

If it works, great, we will have more unified spec files. If it doesn’t, file a bug ūüėČ

Keeping Factory in shape

June 13th, 2013 by

Michal HruŇ°eck√Ĺ has been helping out on maintaining Factory in shape and shares his experiences.

Factory is development version of openSUSE and it is where the next openSUSE is taking form. Hundreds of packagers send packages into Factory to be integrated as a part of the new release and many more use Factory for testing or for their daily work. Thus it is really important to keep Factory rolling and usable. Everybody knows that Coolo is the Factory master and he does everything to make next openSUSE be the best ever. But keeping factory in shape is really complicated and stressing task. There are dozens of request everyday and each one of them can potentially break something. So Factory can always use a pair of extra hands and for some time I have been one of them. I’d like to give you some insight in what we do, working on keeping Factory building and working. (more…)

openQA in openSUSE

June 6th, 2013 by

factory-testedToday, we’ve got for you an introduction of the teams’ work on openQA by Alberto Planas Dom√≠nguez.

The last 12.3 release was important for the openSUSE team for a number of reasons. One reason is that we wanted to integrate QA (Quality Assurance) into the release process in an early stage. You might remember that this release had UEFI and Secure Boot support coming and everybody had read the scary reports about badly broken machines that can only be fixed replacing the firmware. Obviously openSUSE can’t allow such things to happen to our user base, so we wanted to do more testing. (more…)

CLI to upload image to openstack cloud

April 18th, 2012 by

I work on automatic testing of one of our products that creates other projects.
And because there is a lot of clouds everywhere I want to use them too. We
have internally an OpenStack cloud (still Diablo release). So I need to solve
automatic uploading of images built in the Build Service. Below I describe my working version.

(more…)