Canonical Voices

Posts tagged with 'coming changes'

Curtis Hovey

Launchpad can now show you all the people that your project is sharing private bugs and branches with. This new sharing feature is a few weeks away from being in beta, but the UI is informative, so we’re enabling this feature for members of the Launchpad Beta Testers team now. If you’d like to join, click on the ‘join’ link on the team page.

What you’ll see

Project maintainers and drivers can see all the users that are subscribed to private bugs and branches. The listing might be surprising, maybe even daunting. You may see people who no longer contribute to the project, or people you do not know at all. The listing of users and teams illustrates why we are creating a new way of sharing project information without managing bug and branch subscriptions.

If you’re a member of (or once you’re a member of, if we want people to join) the Launchpad Beta Testers team, you can find the Sharing link on the front page of your project. I cannot see who your project is sharing with, nor can you see who my projects are sharing with, but I will use the Launchpad project as an example to explain what the Launchpad team is seeing.

The Launchpad project

The Launchpad project is sharing private bugs and branches with 250 users and teams. This is the first time Launchpad has ever provided this information. It was impossible to audit a project to ensure confidential information is not disclosed to untrusted parties. I still do not know how many private bugs and branches the Launchpad project has, nor do I even know how many of these are shared with me. Maybe Launchpad will provide this information in the future.

Former developers still have access

I see about 30 former Launchpad and Canonical developers still have access to private bugs and branches. I do not think we should be sharing this information with them. I’m pretty sure they do not want to notified about these bugs and branches either. I suspect Launchpad is wasting bandwidth by sending emails to dead addresses.

Unknown users

I see about 100 users that I do not know. I believe they reported bugs that were marked private. Some may have been subscribed by users who were already subscribed to the bug. I can investigate the users and see the specific bug and branches that are shared with them.

The majority

The majority of users and teams that the Launchpad project is sharing with are members of either the Launchpad team or the Canonical team. I am not interested in investigating these people. I do not want to be managing their individual bug and branch subscriptions to ensure they have access to the information that they need to do their jobs. Soon I won’t have to think about this issue, nor will I see them listed on this page.

Next steps — sharing ‘All information’

In a few weeks I will share the Launchpad project’s private information with both the Launchpad team and the Canonical team. It takes seconds to do, and about 130 rows of listed users will be replaced with just two rows stating that ‘All information’ is shared with the Launchpad and Canonical teams. I will then stop sharing private information with all the former Launchpad and Canonical employees.

Looking into access via bug and branch subscriptions

Then I will investigate the users who have exceptional access via bug and branch subscriptions. I may stop sharing information with half of them because either they do not need to know about it, or the information should be public.

Bugs and private bugs

I could start investigating which bugs are shared with users now, but I happen to know that there are 29 bugs that the Launchpad team cannot see because they are not subscribed to the private bug. There are hundreds of private bugs in Launchpad that cannot be fixed because the people who can fix them were never subscribed. This will be moot once all private information in the Launchpad project is shared with the Launchpad team.

Unsubscribing users from bugs

Launchpad does not currently let me unsubscribe users from bugs. When project maintainers discover confidential information is disclosed to untrusted users, they ask the Launchpad Admins to unsubscribe the user. There are not enough hours in the day to for the Admins to do this. Just as Launchpad will let me share all information with a team or user, I will also be able to stop sharing.

 

(Image by loop_oh on flickr, creative commons license)

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Curtis Hovey

We are reimagining the nature of privacy in Launchpad. The goal of the disclosure feature is to introduce true private projects, and we are reconciling the contradictory implementations of privacy in bugs and branches.

Launchpad will use policies instead of roles to govern who has access to a kind of privacy

We are implementing three kinds of policies, proprietary, embargoed security, and user data. The maintainer is the default member of these policies. The maintainer can share a kind or private data by adding a user or team to a policy.

For proprietary projects, the maintainer can add their organisational teams to the proprietary policy to share all the project information with the team members.

For Ubuntu, the maintainer will set the apport bot to be the only user in the user data policy; user data is only shared with a bot that removes personal data so that the bug can be made public. The Ubuntu security team will be the only users in the security policy.

Most maintainers will want to add project drivers to the policies if they use drivers. Bug supervisors can be added as well, though the team must be exclusive (moderated or restricted).

You can still subscribe a user or team to a private bug or branch and Launchpad will also permit the user to access it without sharing everything with the user. The existing behaviour will continue to work but it will be an exception to the normal rules.

Polices replace the bug-subscription-on-privacy-change rules. If you have every had to change the bug supervisor for a project with many private bugs, you can rejoice. You will not need to manually update the subscriptions to the private bugs to do what Launchpad implied would happen. Subscriptions are just about notification. You will not be notified of proprietary changes is proprietary information is not shared with you. Sharing kinds or information via policy means that many existing private bugs without subscribers will finally be visible to project members who can fix the issue.

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Curtis Hovey

We are reimagining the nature of privacy in Launchpad. The goal of the disclosure feature is to introduce true private projects, and we are reconciling the contradictory implementations of privacy in bugs and branches.

We are adding a new kind of privacy called “Proprietary” which will work differently than the current forms of privacy.

The information in proprietary data is not shared between projects. The conversations, client, customer, partner, company, and organisation data are held in confidence. proprietary information is unlikely to every be made public.

Many projects currently have private bugs and branches because they contain proprietary information. We expect to change these bugs from generic private to proprietary. We know that private bugs and branches that belong to projects that have only a proprietary license are intended to be proprietary. We will not change bugs that are public, described as security, or are shared with another project.

This point is a subtle change from what I have spoken and written previously. We are not changing the current forms of privacy. We do not assume that all private things are proprietary. We are adding a new kind of privacy that cannot be shared with other projects to ensure the information is not disclosed.

Launchpad currently permits projects to have default private bugs and branches. These features exist for proprietary projects. We will change the APIs to clarify this. eg:

    project.private_bugs = True  => project.default_proprietary_bugs = True
    project.setBranchVisibilityTeamPolicy(FORBIDDEN) => project.default_proprietary_branches = True

Projects with commercial subscriptions will get the “proprietary” classification. Project contributors will be able to classify their bugs and branches as proprietary. The maintainers will be able to enable default proprietary bugs and branches.

Next part: Launchpad will use policies instead of roles to govern who has access to a kind of privacy.

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Curtis Hovey

We are reimagining the nature of privacy in Launchpad. The goal of the disclosure feature is to introduce true private projects, and we are reconciling the contradictory implementations of privacy in bugs and branches.

We must change the UI to accommodate the a kind of privacy, and we must change some existing terms because to avoid confusion.

We currently have two checkboxes, Private and Security that create 4 combined states:

  • Public
  • Public Security
  • Private Security
  • Private something else

Most private bugs in Launchpad are private because they contain user data. You might think at first that something that is just private is proprietary. This is not the so. Ubuntu took advantage of defects in Launchpad’s conflation of subscription and access to address a kind of privacy we did not plan for. Most private bugs in Launchpad are owned by Ubuntu. They were created by the apport bug reporting process and may contain personal user data. These bugs cannot be made public until they are redacted or purged of user data. We reviewed a sample of private bugs that belong to public projects and discovered more than 90% were made private because they contained user data. Since project contributors cannot hide or edit bug comments, they chose to make the bug private to protect the user. Well done. Launchpad needs to clarify when something contains user data so that everyone knows that it cannot
be made public without removing the personal information.

Public and private security bugs represent two states in a workflow. The goal of every security bug is to be resolved, then made public so that users are informed. People who work on these issues do not use ”public” and “private”, they use “unembargoed” and “embargoed”.

Also, when I view something that is private, Launchpad needs to tell me why. The red privacy banner shown on Launchpad pages must tell me why something is private. Is it because the page contains user data, proprietary information, or an embargoed security issue? This informs me if the thing could become public.

When I want to change somethings visibility, I expect Launchpad to show me a choice that clearly states my options. Launchpad’s pickers currently shows me a term without an explanation, yet Launchpad’s code does contain the term’s definition. Instead of making me search help.launchpad.net (in vain), the picker must inform me. Given the risks of disclosing personal user data or proprietary information, I think an informative picker is essential. I expect to see something like this when I open the visibility picker for a bug:

Branches require a similar, if not identical way of describing their kind of information. I am not certain branches contain user data, but if one did, it would be clear that the branch should not be visible to everyone and should not be merged until the user data is removed.

Next post: We are adding a new kind of privacy called “Proprietary” which will work differently than the current forms of privacy.

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Curtis Hovey

Launchpad is ending support for multi-tenancy for branches and bugs to ensure that projects can manage the disclosure of private information. This is a fundamental change to how launchpad permits communities to share projects. Very few users will be affected by this change, but several communities will need to change how they work with private bugs and branches.

Launchpad currently permits users to create private bugs or branches that cannot be seen by the project maintainers, or the project’s other communities. This feature permits communities and companies to develop features in secret until they are ready to share their work with the other communities. This exclusivity feature is difficult to use, difficult to maintain, and makes Launchpad slow. This feature also contradicts the project maintainer’s need to be informed and to manage the disclosure of confidential information. When multiple parties can control privacy on a project, important information is lost.

While discussing the proposed changes with Launchpad stakeholders, I was surprised that most believed that the project maintainers could see the private bugs they were reporting — they wanted to collaborate, but the subscription-as-access mechanism is faulty. There are thousands of private bugs reported in Launchpad that cannot be fixed because the person who can fix the issue is not subscribed.

A contributing reason to drop support for private branches on project you do not maintain is that the feature is fundamentally broken. Privacy is inherited from the base branch. If you cannot access the base branch your branch is stacked on, you are locked out. Project owners can, and accidentally do, lock out contributors. You cannot subscribe someone to review the security concerns in your branch if that user does not have access to the base branch. Project contributors must subscribe each other to their respective branches to collaborate on a fix or feature.

This change is a part of a super-feature called Disclosure. To ensure that confidential data is not accidentally disclosed, project maintainers will be able to view and change who has access to confidential project information. Maintainers can add users to security or proprietary policies to grant access to all the information in the respective policy. You will not need to subscribe users to individual bugs or branches, unless you want to grant an exception to a user to access one confidential piece of information.

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Martin Pool

We’ve recently deployed two features that make it easier to find bugs that you’re previously said affect you:

1: On your personal bugs page, there’s now an Affecting bugs that shows all these bugs.

2: On a project, distribution or source package bug listing page, there’s now a “Bugs affecting me” filter on the right (for example, bugs affecting you in the Launchpad product).

Counts of the number of affected users already help developers know which bugs are most urgent to fix, both directly and by feeding into Launchpad’s bug heat heuristic. With these changes, the “affects me” feature will also make it easier for you to keep an eye on these bugs, without having to subscribe to all mail from them.

screenshot of

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Matthew Revell

When you want to assign a bug to someone, subscribe them to a blueprint and so on, you see Launchpad’s person picker. It’s where you search for someone or a team, get a list of possible matches and then select the right one.

Fairly recently, we’ve made a couple of improvements to the person picker, such as adding the person/team’s unique Launchpad ID after their display name, so you stand a better chance of choosing the right person.

The trouble is, how many of us know the Launchpad ID of each person or team we’re likely to deal with?

I know I think more in terms of someone’s IRC nick or the various associations they might have, rather than what they chose as their Launchpad ID.

That’s why we’re changing the person picker: soon, everyone will get a new version of the person picker that shows you what I think is a much more useful set of information in helping find the right person.

Here’s what it might look like:

The new person picker

If you’re in the Launchpad beta testers team you might have seen it already.

If you’ve used it, let us know what you think: does it give you the information you need? Have you come across any bugs to report?

Either email feedback@launchpad.net or comment directly on this post to help us shape the new person picker!

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Robert Collins

I’m thrilled to be writing this blog post just over a year after starting as Launchpad’s technical architect. During that year we have been steadily improving our ability to deploy changes to Launchpad without causing downtime (of any or all services). Our ability to do this directly impacts our ability to deliver bug fixes and new functionality – our users are very sensitive to downtime.

There has been one particularly tricky holdout though – our monthly 90 minute downtime window where we apply schema changes, do DB server maintenance and so forth.

Starting very soon we will instead have very short windows – approximately 60 seconds long – where we perform schema changes, database server failover (in order to permit DB maintenance on the master server) and so forth.

We expect to do these about 6 times a month based on our historical rate of schema patches, and we are – for now – planning on doing these at 0800 UTC consistently.

This will deliver much less total downtime – 6 minutes a month rather than 90 – at the cost of more frequent interruptions.

If you have API scripts running against Launchpad, you may want to build in a retry mechanism to deal with up to a few minutes of downtime.

We cannot remove downtime entirely for purely technical reasons: Our primary database (postgresql) blocks new readers (or writers) when a schema change is being executed, and the schema change blocks on existing readers (or writers) to complete – it needs an exclusive lock on each relation being altered.

What we can do is automate the process of disconnecting and interrupting existing database connections to let the schema change execute rapidly, and make our schema changes as minimal as possible. Previously, we shut down all the application servers (via a script, but shutting down gracefully takes time), and then ran schema changes which did data migration and so forth. In this new process we will leave the appservers running and just interrupt their connections for the time it take to apply the schema change. That, combined with moving data migration to a background job rather than doing it during the schema change, gives us the short downtimes we’re about to start doing.

More information is available in the LEP and my mailing list post about the project starting.

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Robert Collins

A short headsup about an upcoming change.

A very long time ago the team owner was always a team member. This was changed to make team owners optionally members (sometime before 2008!). However the change was incomplete – there has been an inconsistency in the codebase ever since. For the details see bug 227494.

I wanted to let everyone know about us actually finishing this change though, because for a small number of teams (about 400) their administrators may be surprised when they cannot do things.

The inconsistency was this: if a team owner leaves the team, so they just own it, then they are not listed as a team member. But if they try to exercise a privilege the team grants – e.g. if the team is a bug supervisor – the team owners were able to do this. This setup made it impossible for users to accurately determine who can carry out the responsibilities of a team : the Launchpad web UI incorrectly reported team members.

The fix which will be deployed in the next day or so corrects this inconsistency: Team ownership will no longer grant access to anything that team membership grants.

For clarity, these are the rules around team owners:

  1. When a team owner is assigned (or a team made) the owner defaults to being an administrator-member.
  2. If a team owner deactivates their team membership then they are not considered a team member anymore: resources and access that team membership grants will not be available to the owner at this point.
  3. Team owners can always perform adminstrative tasks on the team: creating new administrators, edit the team description, rename the team etc.
  4. Point 3 allows an owner to add themself to the team they own even if they deactivated their membership previously.

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Martin Pool

Launchpad API client developers: have your say in bug 714043 on whether launchpadlib should connect by default to Launchpad’s staging server (so data is discarded), or to real Launchpad.

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Martin Pool

As we foreshadowed last October, bug expiry is now active again.

Bugs that are marked Incomplete and that haven’t been touched for 60 days will now start moving to the Expired state. If it turns out the bug’s still useful or valid, anyone can move it back.

We recommend people use the Incomplete state to mean: if this bug report doesn’t get more information, there’s nothing we can do with it.

This only affects projects expire incomplete bug reports setting turned on in the Configure bug tracker page.

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Brad Crittenden

Removing team polls

Polls were introduced to Launchpad as a way for teams to conduct internal surveys.  Unfortunately the user interface and feature set were always problematic.  The feature never really caught on and wasn’t used much (a little over 500 polls since 2006).

A discussion[1] on the Launchpad Users mailing list saw a consensus agree that polls in their current state were not a viable feature and they should be removed rather than being fixed.  As part of the December Launchpad Bug Jam I’ve taken on the task of removing them from the site.

Currently there are only four polls that are underway and the owners of the teams responsible for those polls will be notified that the feature is being removed.  The data from all existing polls will be saved and made available to the teams at PollFeatureRemoved.

[1] https://lists.launchpad.net/launchpad-users/msg06098.html

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Matthew Revell

Via Planet Launchpad: Launchpad’s Strategist, Jonathan Lange, writes on his blog:

We’re starting to get a picture of what we want to do in the second half of 2010. In particular, lots of people within the team and within Canonical are starting to get fed up with our privacy and permissions model, which is quite patchy. It’s currently tangled up with the way we send emails to people, and we’d love to untangle them.

The Foundations team are already at work making Launchpad faster, and that’s something we want work on even more in the coming months. Derivative distributions – that is, a Linux distribution that extends or customizes another one, generally Ubuntu – have always been a key part of the vision for Launchpad, and they are finally going to get the effort they deserve.

Finally, we want to do whatever we can to make the Ubuntu Software Center rock harder than it does already. Launchpad occupies a special place in the Software Center world, since it can help make it easier to get applications for your desktop and make it easier to develop those applications.

If you’re keen to know what we have planned for Launchpad, you can subscribe to the roadmap page on our dev wiki.

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