EPIC Planning Document
History / BackgroundSince 2007, Fedora Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux (EPEL) has been rebuilding Fedora Project Linux packages for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and its clones. Originally the goal was to compile packages that RHEL did not ship but were useful in the running of Fedora Infrastructure and other sites. Packages would be forked from the nearest Fedora release (Fedora 3 for EPEL-4, Fedora 6 for EPEL-5) with little updating or moving of packages in order to give similar lifetimes as the EL packages. Emphasis was made on back-porting fixes versus upgrading, and also not making large feature changes which would cause confusion. If a package could not longer be supported, it would be removed from the repository to eliminate security concerns. At the time RHEL lifetimes were thought to be only 5-6 years so back-porting did not look like a large problem.
As RHEL and its clones became more popular, Red Hat began to extend the lifetime of the Enterprise Linux releases from 6 years to 10 years of "active" support. This made trying to back-port fixes harder and many packages in EPEL would be "aged" out and removed. This in turn caused problems for consumers who had tied kick-starts and other scripts to having access to those packages. Attempts to fix this by pushing for release upgrade policies have run into resistance from packagers who find focusing on the main Fedora releases a full time job already and only build EPEL packages as one-offs. Other attempts to update policies have run into needing major updates and changes to build tools and scripting but no time to do so. Finally, because EPEL has not majorly changed in 10 years, conversations about changing fall into "well EPEL has always done it like this" from consumers, packagers, and engineering at different places.
In order to get around many of these resistance points with changing EPEL, I suggest that we frame the problems around a new project called Extra Packages for Inter Communities. The goal of this project would be to build packages from Fedora Project Linux releases to various Enterprise Linux whether they are Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, Scientific Linux or Oracle Enterprise Linux.
Problems and Proposals
- Currently EPEL uses the Fedora build system to compose a release of
packages every couple of days. Because each day creates a new compose,
the only channels are the various architectures and a testing where
future packages can be tested. Updates are not in a separate because
EPEL does not track releases.
EPEL packagers currently have to support a package for the 10 year lifetime of an RHEL release. If they have to update a release, all older versions are no longer available. If they no longer want to support a package it is completely removed. While this sounds like it increases security of consumers, Fedora does not remove old packages from older releases.
- Proposed Solution
- EPIC will match the Enterprise Linux major/minor numbers for releases. This means that a set of packages will be built for say EL5 sub-release 11 (aka 5.11). Those packages would populate for each supported architecture a release, updates and updates-testing directory. This will allow for a set of packages to be composed when the sub-release occurs and then stay until the release is ended.
- EPEL is built against a subset of channels that Red Hat Enterprise Linux has for customers, namely the Server, High Availability, Optional, and some sort of Extras. Effort is made to make sure that EPEL does not replace with newer packages anything in those channels. However this does not extend to packages which are in the Workstation, Desktop, and similar channels. This can cause problems where EPEL’s packages replace something in those channels.
- Proposed Solution
- EPIC will be built against the latest released CentOS minor release using the channels which are enabled by default in the CentOS-Base.repo. These packages are built from source code that Red Hat delivers via a git mechanism to the CentOS project in order to rebuild them for mass consumption. Packages will not be allowed to replace/update according to the standard RPM Name-Epoch-Version-Release (NEVR) mechanism. This will allow EPIC to actually service more clients
Build System Limitations
- EPEL is built against Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Because these packages
are not meant for general consumption, the Fedora Build-system does not
import them but builds them similarly to a hidden build-root. This
causes multiple problems:
If EPEL has a package with the same name, it supersedes the RHEL one
even if the NEVR is newer. This means old packages may get built
against and constant pruning needs to be done.
If the EPEL package has a newer NEVR, it will replace the RHEL one
which may not be what the consumer intended. This may break other
Because parts of the build are hidden the package build may not be
as audit-able as some consumers would like.
- If EPEL has a package with the same name, it supersedes the RHEL one even if the NEVR is newer. This means old packages may get built against and constant pruning needs to be done.
- Proposed Solution
- EPIC will import into the build system the CentOS build it is building against. With this the build is not hidden from view. It also makes it easier to put in rules that an EPIC package will never replace/remove a core build package. Audits of how a build is done can be clearly shown.
Greater Frequency Rebasing
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux have been split between competing customer needs. Customers wish to have some packages stay steady for 10 years with only some updates to them, but they have also found that they need rapidly updated software. In order to bridge this, recent RHEL releases have rebased many software packages during a minor release. This has caused problems because EPEL packages were built against older software ABI’s which no longer work with the latest RHEL. This requires the EPEL software to be rebased and rebuilt regularly. Conversely, because of how the Fedora build system sees Red Hat Enterprise Linux packages, it only knows about the latest packages. In the 2-4 weeks between various community rebuilds getting their minor release packages built, EPEL packages may be built against API’s which are not available.
- Proposed Solution
- The main EPIC releases will be built against specific CentOS releases versus the Continual Release (CR) channel. When the next RHEL minor is announced, the EPIC releng will create new git branch from the current minor version (aka 5.10 → 5.11). Packagers can then make major updates to versions or other needs done. When the CentOS CR is populated with the new rpms, CR will be turned on in koji and packages will be built in the new tree using those packages. After 2 weeks, the EPIC minor release will be frozen and any new packages or fixes will occur in the updates tree.
EL-4This release is no longer supported by CentOS and will not be supported by EPIC.
EL-5This release is no longer supported by CentOS and will not be supported by EPIC.
EL-6This release is supported until Nov 30 2020 (2020-11-30). The base packaging rules for any package would be those used by the Fedora Project during its 12 and 13 releases. Where possible, EPIC will make macros to keep packaging more in line with current packaging rules.
EL-7This release is supported until Jun 30 2024 (2024-06-30). The base packaging rules for any package would be those used by the Fedora Project during its 18 and 19 releases. Because EL7 has seen major updates in certain core software, newer packaging rules from newer releases is possible to follow.
EL-nextRed Hat has not publicly announced what its next release will be, when it will be released, or what its lifetime is. When that occurs, it will be clearer which Fedora release packaging will be based off of.
GIT structureCurrently EPEL uses only 1 branch for every major RHEL release. In order to better match how current RHEL releases contain major differences, EPIC will have a branch for every major.minor release. This is to allow for people who need older versions for their usage to better snapshot and build their own software off of it. There are several naming patterns which need to be researched:
Git module patterns will need to match what upstream delivers for any
Continuous Integration (CI) Gating
EPIC-6The EL-6 life-cycle is reaching its final sub releases with more focus and growth in EL-7 and the future. Because of this gating will be turned off EPIC-6. Testing of packages can be done at the packagers discretion but is not required.
EPIC-7The EL-7 life-cycle is midstream with 1-2 more minor releases with major API changes. Due to this, it makes sense to research if gating can be put in place for the next minor release. If the time and energy to retrofit tools to the older EL are possible then it can be turned on.
EPIC-nextBecause gating is built into current Fedora releases, there should be no problem with turning it on for a future release. Packages which do not pass testing will be blocked just as they will be in Fedora 29+ releases.
EPIC-6Because EL-6’s tooling is locked at this point, it does not make sense to investigate modules.
EPIC-7Currently EL-7 does not support Fedora modules and would require updates to yum, rpm and other tools in order to do so. If these show up in some form in a future minor release, then trees for modules can be created and builds done.
EPIC-nextThe tooling for modules can match how Fedora approaches it. This means that rules for module inclusion will be similar to package inclusion. EPIC-next modules must not replace/conflict with CentOS modules. They may use their own name-space to offer newer versions than what is offered and those modules may be removed in the next minor release if CentOS offers them then.
Major ReleaseIn the past, Red Hat has released a public beta before it finalizes its next major version. If possible, the rebuilders have come out with their versions of this release in order to learn what gotchas they will have when the .0 release occurs. Once the packages for the beta are built, EPIC will make a public call for packages to be released to it. Because packagers may not want to support a beta or they know that there will be other problems, these packages will NOT be auto branched from Fedora.
Minor ReleaseThe current method CentOS uses to build a minor release is to begin rebuilding packages, patching problems and then when ready put those packages in their
/cr/ directory. These are then tested for by
people while updates are built and ISOs for the final minor release is
done. The steps for EPIC release engineering will be the following:
- Branch all current packages from X.Y to X.Y+1
- Make any Bugzilla updates needed
- Rebuild all branched packages against CR
- File FTBFS against any packages.
- Packagers will announce major updates to mailing list
- Packagers will build updates against CR.
2 weeks in, releng will cull any packages which are still FTBFS
2 weeks in, releng will compose and lock the X.Y+1 release
symlinks will point to the new minor release.
4 weeks in, releng will finish archiving off the X.Y release
Between ReleasesUpdates and new packages between releases will be pushed to the appropriate /updates/X.Y/ tree. Packagers will be encouraged to only make minor non-api breaking updates during this time. Major changes are possible, but need to follow this work flow:
- Announce to the EPEL list that a change is required and why
- Open a ticket to EPIC steering committee on this change
- EPIC steering committee approves/disapproves change
- If approved change happens but packages are in updates
- If not approved it can be done next minor release.
Build in FedoraCurrently EPEL is built in Fedora using the Fedora Build system which integrates koji, bodhi, greenwave, other tools together. This could be still used with EPIC.
Build in CentOSEPIC could be built in the CentOS BuildSystem (CBS) which also uses koji and has some integration to the CentOS Jenkins CI system.
Build in CloudInstead of using existing infrastructure, EPIC is built with newly stood up builders in Amazon or similar cloud environments. The reasoning behind this would be to see if other build systems can transition there eventually.
- Blue Sky Project
- A project with a different name to help eliminate preconceptions with the existing project.
- A person who pays for a service either in money, time or goods.
- Sometimes called a user. A person who is consuming the service without work put into it.
- Extra Packages for Enterprise Linux. A product name which was to be replaced years ago, but no one came up with a better one.
- Extra Packages Inter Community.
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux
Last updated 2018-05-16 19:10:17 EDT This document was imported from an adoc..