September 25, 2012

Launchpad blog
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Launchpad blog
Launchpad JavaScript now combo loaded and faster than ever.

Network graph of the combo loaded JavaScript.

Updated network graph

Back in January a side project was started to update the JavaScript used in Launchpad. Launchpad has been using YUI 3.3.0 for a long time, very successfully, however recent advances in YUI 3.5 and higher have added some great tools for development that Launchpad can take advantage of. In order to facilitate easier upgrades our YUI library version Launchpad has been moved to using a combo loader for serving out JavaScript.

This means, that instead of a single launchpad.js file that can be upwards of 3MB in size, each request builds a list of JavaScript modules needed for the current page to work, and the combo loader only sends down those modules. This drastically cuts down on the download size of the JavaScript for users. These combo loaded JavaScript files are also cached for speedy serving to other users of Launchpad.

The combo loader also allows us to specify which YUI version to load via a tweak to the url. In this way we can easily test new version of YUI side by side with the current stable version as they come out. This allows Launchpad to keep with future YUI released much faster.

We’re excited that today Launchpad has moved from YUI 3.3.0 to 3.5.1 and is now served by the combo loader. This change provides a faster experience for users along with easier maintenance and new JavaScript library features for developers.

We’ve still got more to do though. YUI just released version 3.7 and we aim to push that into production faster than ever before. Please let us know how these changes work for you.

Launchpad also wants to thank the folks over at YUI for continuing the great work on a tool that Launchpad heavily depends on.

April 18, 2012
Setting up commercial projects quickly

Setting up a commercial project in Launchpad has gotten easier. You can now quickly register a proprietary project and enable private bugs. You can create private teams and private personal package archives, AKA private PPA or P3A without the assistance of a Launchpad admin.

When you select the Other/Proprietary license while registering a project, or changing the project’s details,

it is given a complimentary 30-day commercial subscription.

The delay between the moment when a commercial project was registered and when the commercial subscription was purchased and then applied to the project caused a lot of confusion. During this delay, proprietary data could be disclosed. We chose to award the project with a short term commercial subscription which enabled the project to be properly configured while the 12-month commercial subscription was being purchased and applied to the project.

Any project with a commercial subscription can enable

Default private bugs
Once enabled by configuring the project’s bug tracker, all new reported bugs are private. You can choose to make the report public.
Default private bugs
Default private branches
You can request a Launchpad admin to configure private branches for your teams. (You will be able to do this yourself in the near future when projects gain proprietary branches.)

As the maintainer of a project with a commercial subscription, you can register

Private teams
When you register a team, you can choose to set the team visibility to private. The team’s members and data is hidden from non-members.
Private mailing lists
When you create a mailing list for a private team, the archive is also private. Only team members may see the messages in the archive.
Private PPAs
When you create a PPA for your public team, you may choose to make it private; private teams can only have private PPAs. You can subscribe users to your archive so that they may install packages without revealing all your team’s members and data to the subscriber.

A secondary benefit of this change is that you can now try Launchpad’s commercial features before purchasing a 12-month commercial subscription. The features will be disabled at the end of 30-days. Your test data will remain private to ensure your data is not disclosed.

Any open source project may also have a commercial subscription to enable commercial features. You can purchase a commercial subscription at the Canonical store. Commercial subscriptions cost US$250/year/project + applicable V.A.T.

 

(Photo by Fred Dawson on flickr, creative commons license)

April 13, 2012
An introduction to our new sharing feature

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)

March 15, 2012
Work items in blueprints

To doAt its most basic, a blueprint in Launchpad is a statement of intent: by creating a blueprint, you’re saying, “Here’s an idea for how this project should progress.”

How do you track the detailed steps to get from having the idea to seeing it implemented?

The Ubuntu development community came up with a solution: they break a blueprint down into items of work that can be assigned to an individual. That makes it easier to track who’s doing what and how they’re getting on, while the blueprint itself tracks the status of the big idea.

Until now, these work items weren’t recognised by Launchpad. Instead, Ubuntu and Linaro tracked them in the blueprint’s whiteboard. Using the Launchpad API, they pulled the whiteboard contents out and used them to generate burn-down charts for status.ubuntu.com and status.linaro.org.

Now, thanks to work by some of the team at Linaro, each blueprint has a text box where you can add, update and delete its related work items.

How you make use of work items will depend on the project you’re working on. Both Ubuntu and Linaro already make extensive use of work items and, if you’re working as part of those communities, you should follow their lead.

Using work items

Work items are pretty simple to use.

Here’s an example of how a set of work items might look:


Design the user interaction: DONE
Visual design: INPROGRESS
Test the UI: TODO
Decide on an API format: POSTPONED
Bootstrap the dev environment: TODO
Set up Jenkins CI: TODO
As you can see, each work item sits on its own line and you indicate its status after a colon.

As you can see, each work item sits on its own line and you indicate its status after a colon. The statuses you can use are:

  • TODO
  • INPROGRESS
  • POSTPONED
  • DONE

Sometimes a blueprint can be targeted to one milestone but you’ll have a individual work items that need to be targeted to a different milestone. That’s fine, you can tell Launchpad that a bunch of work items are for some other milestone.

In the work items text box, simply use a header like this:


Work items for <milestone>:

If you enter an invalid milestone you’ll get an error message and the opportunity to correct the text field.

A milestone picker will of course be more useful and we’ve submitted a bug to keep track of that.

What’s next?

Soon, you’ll be able get a view of all the work items and bugs assigned to a particular individual or team for a particular milestone.

Of course, if you have other ideas for how Launchpad can make use of work items, we’d love to hear from you.

Photo by Courtney Dirks. Licence: CC BY 2.0

February 14, 2012
Contacting teams is easier and more reliable

Two changes to the contact team email feature were recently released that make communication more reliable.

Non-team members now see the “Contact this team’s admins” link. Previously, non-members saw a link to contact the team owner. The owner is often one person, and some team owners delegate the running of the teams to the team admins. There are often more admins then there are owners. So the message is more  likely to reach someone who is involved in the day-to-day team management.

Team members see the “Contact this team’s members” link. Previously, members might have seen a link to contact the team, but that email when to the team email address that the team might not respond to. Many teams still use bogus email addresses to avoid emails from the days before Launchpad had great bug subscription filters. Launchpad has an anti-feature that prevents team mailing-lists from contacts all the team members. Team admins found it impossible to notify the member about issue ranging from policy changes, polls, meetings, to security issues. So members can now trust that their messages will be sent to the team members.

The feature is a convenient way to contact a user or team. Sometimes the feature is the only way you can contact a user or team that does not have a public email address. A user may use the contact user/team feature 3 times each day. The limit ensures no one can spam Launchpad users. The limit also means the feature is not a substitute for mailing lists.

January 26, 2012
Social private teams

The title may sound like a contradiction, but I assure you that it is not. You can now use private teams in social contexts in Launchpad. Private teams can collaborate with public projects and other teams if they choose to reveal the existence of the private team.

  1. Private teams can me members of other teams.
  2. Other teams can be members of private teams.
  3. Private teams can subscribe to bugs, blueprints, branches, and merge proposals
  4. Private teams  can be in public project roles,  such as maintainers, drivers, and bug supervisors.
  5. You can change the branch owner to be a private team.
  6. Private team personal branches (+junk) are always private.

When a member places the private team in a social situation, a the member is asked to confirm that it is okay to reveal the team’s identifying information. This information is the team’s Launchpad Id used in URLs, the displayname, icon, and logo. A user can visit the private team’s Launchpad page and will only see that information. The rest of the page is not shared. Anonymous users cannot see a private team’s page because that user is not being social; logged in users can see the private team’s page

Private team page seen by a non-member

Launchpad did not permit these interactions previously because it was not clear who should know about the team. Someone has to know. If Launchpad permitted private teams to subscribe to bugs or be members of teams without anyone knowing of them, they would be unaccountable. Private teams could spy on organisation, or learn about security vulnerabilities to exploit. Launchpad will not ever permit such asocial behaviour. The resolution for social interactions was to permit other parties to know enough of the private team to make an informed decision. For example, when I choose to make a bug private, I want to know who was already seen the bug through a subscription. I may choose to unsubscribe the private team if I do not trust them.

Private teams may invite exclusive teams to be members. Exclusive teams (moderated or restricted teams) review all members so they are accountable. If a team admin trusts the admins of another team, and that team is accountable, Launchpad permits the other team to be a member. This is actually a rule that applied to all exclusive teams. private teams are always exclusive (restricted membership policy). The only nuance with private teams is when it is a member of another team; the super team may know the members of the private sub team because the super team has the right to audit all its members so that it too can be accountable.

November 10, 2011
Daily builds of huge trees

We’ve just upgraded Launchpad’s builder machines to Bazaar 2.4. Most importantly, this means that recipe builds of very large trees will work reliably, such as the daily builds of the Linaro ARM-optimized gcc. (This was bug 746822 in Launchpad).

We are going to do some further rollouts over the next week to improve supportability of recipe builds, support building non-native packages, handle muiltiarch package dependencies, improve the buildd deployment story etc.

October 4, 2011
Finding bugs that affect you

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

October 1, 2011
Launchpad now accepts mail commands from gmail

If you use gmail, you should now be able to send commands to Launchpad without gpg-signing.

gmail puts a DKIM cryptographic signature on outgoing mail, which is a cryptographic signature that proves that the mail was sent by gmail and that it was sent by the purported user. We verify the signature on Launchpad and treat that mail as trusted which means, for example, that you can triage bugs over mail or vote on merge proposals. Previously you needed to GPG-sign the mail which is a bit of a hassle for gmail.

(DKIM is signed by the sending domain, not by the user, so it doesn’t inherently prove that the purported sender is the actual one. People could intentionally or unintentionally set up a server that allows intra-domain impersonation, and it’s reported to be easy to misconfigure DKIM signers so that this happens. (Consider a simple SMTP server that accepts, signs and forwards everything from 192.168/16 with no authentication.) However, in cases like gmail we can reasonably assume Google don’t allow one user to impersonate another. We can add other trusted domains on request.)

If you have gmail configured to use some other address as your From address it will still work, as long as you verify both your gmail address and your other address.

You can use email commands to interact with both bugs and code merge proposals. For instance when Launchpad sends you mail about a new bug, you can just reply

  status confirmed
  importance medium

Thanks for letting us know!

We do this using the pydkim library.

Note that you do need at least one leading space before the commands.

If you hit any bugs, let us know.

July 13, 2011
Better control of your bug mail

As of recently, you have more control of what email Launchpad sends you about bugs.

Instead of bug subscriptions being all or nothing, you can now tell Launchpad exactly what bug-related events you want to hear about. And if you find you’re getting too much, or too little, detail you can change your subscription at any time.

What’s more, it’s now easier to filter the bug mail that Launchpad sends you.

Subscribing to an individual bug

Let’s take a look at a bug report about Gwibber. Over on the right-hand side is the Subscribe link as usual. Clicking on it, though, gives us three new options for when Launchpad should email you about this bug:

  • a change is made to this bug or a new comment is added
  • any change is made to this bug, other than a new comment being added
  • this bug is fixed or re-opened.

Subscribe to a bug

You get to choose how much detail you want about the life of this bug, from receiving an email about everything through to Launchpad notifying you only when the bug is fixed or subsequently re-opened.

Editing a subscription to an individual bug

You can change your mind about your bug subscription. Simply click the Edit subscription link that appears once you’ve subscribed.

You get the same options, along with an additional option of unsubscribing entirely.

Edit a bug subscription

Subscribing to a project

You’ve been able to subscribe to all the bugs in a particular project or distribution (and milestone, series, packages within those) for a few years now. However, for anything but the quietest of projects this could bring a new intensity to the phrase “drinking from the fire hose”.

Now you can have sane subscriptions to these broader structures within Launchpad. Let’s subscribe to bugs in OpenStack to see how it works.

Clicking Subscribe to bug mail on OpenStack’s bug overview page gives allows you to:

  • subscribe yourself or one of your teams
  • name the subscription — this gets added to the emails that result
  • choose whether you want to hear when a bug is opened or closed, or if you want to go into more detail.

Subscribe to OpenStack

So, now you have a subscription called OpenStack overview that’ll generate an email whenever a bug report is opened or closed in OpenStack.

Refining a project subscription

Let’s say you’re particularly interested in OpenStack documentation. No problem, you can keep your OpenStack overview subscription for everything else and add a more detailed subscription just for documentation bugs.

Subscribe to a tag

If that’s not enough, you can also filter by importance and status.

Muting bugs

If a particular bug becomes too noisy, you can mute it. No matter how you’re subscribed to that bug — even if you have several subscriptions that generate email about that particular report — once you’ve muted it, you won’t hear about that bug again.

Mute bug mail

Of course, you can unmute it any time you like.

Unsubscribe in anger

At the bottom of every bug mail that Launchpad sends you’ll now find a link to edit your subscriptions to that bug. So, no matter how how you’re subscribed to the bug you’ll find all those subscription listed on that page and have the option to edit each of them.

You can also get to that page by clicking Edit bug mail on the bug page itself.

And there’s more

To help with filtering, Launchpad now adds a new header to bug emails:

X-Launchpad-Subscription

It quotes the name you gave the subscription when you created it. For Gmail users, all bug emails also feature the subscription name in the footer of the email body.

And don’t forget that you can already opt-out of email about your own actions on bugs and Launchpad won’t send email about quickly corrected mistakes.

I know I’m going to find bug mail easier to deal with now. Congratulations to the Yellow Squad on delivering this feature!

June 16, 2011
Visualizing Ubuntu Differences Against Debian

Over the past few months, my team have been working to make it easier to create and manage derivative distributions in Launchpad.

Although most of this will be of interest only to distro admins and contributors, we recently released a beta of a new feature that lets you visualize the differences between Ubuntu’s Oneiric series and Debian Sid.

New Distroseries Portlet

There’s a new portlet on the distroseries page that will list the numbers of packages in both distributions, numbers only in Sid and numbers only in Oneiric. Clicking on the links takes you to pages that show the differences in more detail and allows you to request debdiffs and add comments on the packages.

Please let me know what you think of this change. We’re tracking bugs using the ‘derivation’ bug tag. Note that this is not meant to be a replacement for MoM – yet. We have a long way to go for that.

Coming soon, actual syncing from Debian to Ubuntu. Watch this space!

May 5, 2011
Sharing translations

French lessons on floppy diskIt’s incredible to think that more than 57,000 people have used Launchpad to translate software from English into their own language.

Many of them have worked directly on upstream projects, such as the OpenShot video editor. Others have helped translate Ubuntu packages of software. And then there’s a whole group of people who translate upstream software outside of Launchpad.

Today we’ve taken another step in bringing those efforts closer together by making it far easier to get upstream translations directly into Ubuntu.

We want the strings produced by translators working directly on software projects, whether in Launchpad or elsewhere, to be easily available to the Ubuntu translators and we believe it should be just as easy for software projects to take advantage of the work of Ubuntu translators.

How it works

Translation sharing between different releases of a project, or Ubuntu, has been available in Launchpad for some time now. Also, sharing translations between an upstream project translated in Launchpad and its Ubuntu package has been helping to bring those two communities of translators closer together.

What’s changed today is that strings from upstream projects who make their translations outside Launchpad are now just as easily imported and ready for use by Ubuntu.

Now, so long as the upstream project is set up in Launchpad to do this, a change made in an upstream project’s source code — whether hosted directly in Launchpad or elsewhere in Bazaar, Git, Subversion of CVS — will be available to Ubuntu translators just a few hours later.

Previously, Ubuntu took translation templates and files from the source packages as they were uploaded. There was no automated route for those new upstream translations to get into Ubuntu after that initial import. In effect, this allowed Ubuntu translations to diverge from upstream during the six month Ubuntu cycle.

This change has a nice side benefit of making it easier for upstream projects to make use of translation work done for Ubuntu, because the English strings will diverge far less and it will be easier to spot where the Ubuntu community has done new translation work, rather than their being a divergence due to the two efforts drifting apart.

To start with, this is available for projects that use intltools, which includes all of GNOME. To get your project’s translations automatically imported into Launchpad, see our help guide.

Photo by Kino Praxis. Licence: CC BY 2.0

April 6, 2011
Source package recipes

A pint of ale

Here’s a quick pub quiz:

Question: How do you make packages for Ubuntu?

You can choose from the following answers:

  1. learn Debian packaging through hours of study and practice
  2. borrow existing packaging from elsewhere, throw a couple of Bazaar branches together and let Launchpad handle the rest
  3. Uruguay in both 1930 and 1950.

If you selected either of the first answers you’d be right.

Okay, so, if you want to do it for real — i.e. become an Ubuntu MOTU or otherwise create Debian-style packages from scratch — then you still need to go through the hard work.

However, for everyone else who really just needs to get something out there and working for, say, a group of beta testers, we now have Launchpad’s source package recipes.

How it works, in three steps

It’s almost ridiculously easy to set up a source package build:

  1. Choose a branch in Launchpad, whether hosted directly or imported.
  2. Write a short recipe that tells Launchpad which other branches to pull in, for example to provide packaging or make the code buildable.
  3. Paste your recipe into Launchpad.

And that’s it. Within a few minutes you can set up a daily build direct from your trunk or any other buildable branch in Launchpad.

Watch how it works in our screencast:

An example

Alvin Hall

Let’s say you’re the developer of a home finance application called Alvin. You track your project’s code using Git and host it on your own server. For the past couple of years Alvin has been packaged in the Ubuntu universe and your trunk has also been imported from Git to a Bazaar branch in Launchpad at lp:alvin.

Just as you’re approaching Alvin’s next release, you want to get some wider testing. In the past, you’ve published a nightly tarball and provided instructions on manual installation. That’s given you a handful of dedicated beta testers but you’re worried that you’re asking too much of people.

With Launchpad’s source package recipes, you write a short recipe that pulls in your trunk branch, adds the packaging from Alvin’s existing Ubuntu package and then builds an installable Ubuntu package in the PPA of your choice:


# bzr-builder format 0.3 deb-version 2.0beta+{revno}
lp:alvin
nest-part packaging lp:ubuntu/alvin debian debian

Paste the recipe into Launchpad and with a couple of clicks you have a daily build of your trunk, that’s published as an Ubuntu package in your PPA.

Now you can ask people to test the latest Alvin code by doing no more than adding your PPA to their system. Launchpad will build a new version of the package on each day it spots a change in your trunk (or the Ubuntu packaging). For your beta testers, any changes will show up just like any other Ubuntu update.

Simple as that!

Here’s a quick recap of how it works: you can take any buildable branch — whether hosted in directly Launchpad or imported from Git, Subversion, CVS or Bazaar hosted elsewhere — merge or nest other branches, add packaging and then leave it to Launchpad to create a daily build that it publishes in your chosen PPA.

Seeing it in action

List of daily builds in Launchpad

During the beta, people added a whole range of source package recipes, with a list of more than 350 daily builds as I write this.

Daily builds on Launchpad right now include Project Neon, who have around sixty recipes providing daily builds of KDE and Amarok. There are also daily builds of the Scribus DTP app, Audacity and the scriptable screen reader Gnome Orca.

Try it out

It’s easy to get your own source package recipes and daily builds up and running.

Start at our Getting Started guide and screencast.

I’ll leave the last word to Luke Benstead, who has been using source package recipes while developing a set of game libraries:

I’ve been using LP to develop some small open source game libraries. Because there are quite a few of them, packaging them all is a pain, so the package builds have worked out pretty well for them.

Now I get nightly builds delivered to a PPA, so I know that if I fix a bug it’s reflected to all my machines. And my recipes are only a single line so they’ve been really easy to use. I’m not really sure how they could be easier.

Images:
Beer photo by dearbarbie. CC-BY-SA.
Alvin Hall photo by Phil Guest. CC-BY-SA.

April 1, 2011
Another bug email improvement: no notification for quickly corrected mistakes

A few weeks ago the Yellow Squad made another change to increase the relevance of the email you get from Launchpad by eliminating some noisy ones.  A while back, Matthew Paul Thomas noticed that a change to a bug that was subsequently reverted could be deemed a mistake and was an action no one really needed to know about.  As is his habit, mpt opened a bug (164196) with the suggestion that corrected actions not generate email.

So if Alice is assigned to a bug by mistake and then unassigned within five minutes no email is generated.  Likewise, if a tag is added but then quickly removed the action does not cause any email to be sent.

Note that avoiding email requires that the action be undone, not just fixed.  By that I mean the bug must be returned to the original state to be recognized as an undoing.  So if you assign Alice to a bug by mistake and then change that assignment to Bob then the action will not be seen as a mistake.  Email will be sent notifying about both assignee changes to Alice and then to Bob.

Thanks to Gary and Danilo for the fix.

March 18, 2011
pad.lv: short Launchpad URLs

Short story: http://pad.lv/12345 takes you to bug 12345, and pad.lv describes more abbreviations.

padlv

Sometimes you’d like to point people to an interesting bug in a project that uses Launchpad, like bug 685380 (that ‘1′ and ‘l’ may need to be more distinct in the new Ubuntu Font).

Typing out https://launchpad.net/bugs/685380 is a bit tedious, and it uses up a fair bit of space in a microblog entry. You can use any of innumerable URL-shortening services, but then the URL’s opaque; which is a shame since it really just wants to represent a 6-digit number.

Therefore: pad.lv (pad love), transparent short URLs for bugs, and other things including projects, people, bug-filing forms, packages, and more.

Maybe someone would like to make bookmarklets that generate these links, or add them into the Launchpad UI?

Thanks to Latvia for letting us use a fraction of their domain name space!

March 10, 2011
Launchpad Package Upload Improvements

FTP
Photo by Anton Lindqvist. Licence: CC BY 2.0.

Launchpad has an anonymous FTP server that people use to upload source packages to Ubuntu and their PPAs. When Launchpad processes the upload it does a huge number of checks, one of which is verifying the GPG signature on the upload’s .changes file.

One of the problems with this is that if there’s a problem with the signature, or there is no signature at all, Launchpad simply throws the upload away as it cannot be sure who uploaded the package. If it tried to send an email it would also quickly become a spam vector! (See bug 374019)

In today’s release, there is a brand new FTP server that will do preliminary GPG signature checks right in the FTP session itself. If you upload a package that is not signed properly, you’ll see a message that looks like this:

Uploading to launchpad (via ftp to ppa.launchpad.net):
Uploading hello_2.5-1ubuntu1.dsc: done.
Uploading hello_2.5-1ubuntu1.diff.gz: done.
Uploading hello_2.5-1ubuntu1_source.changes: 1k/2k550 (’Changes file must be signed with a valid GPG signature: Verification failed 3 times: ["(7, 8, u\'Bad signature\')", "(7, 8, u\'Bad signature\')", "(7, 8, u\'Bad signature\')"] ‘,): Permission denied.
Note: This error might indicate a problem with your passive_ftp setting.
Please consult dput.cf(5) for details on this configuration option.

which means you get immediate feedback instead of your upload disappearing entirely!

As a bonus, this new FTP server also fixes another long-standing bug where uploads would hang with 1k left to go.

This checking is not available on the SFTP service yet, but we hope to implement that in the near future.

February 11, 2011
Silencing bug notifications for stuff you did

Launchpad’s bug mail can be a bit chatty sometimes as I’m sure you’ve noticed.  This cycle the Yellow Squad is working to give you more control about the bug mail Launchpad sends to you.

One problem that we’ve known about for a really long time was reported as bug 548 and has recently been closed thanks to the effort of  ?????? ????? and Gary Poster.  Their fix allows you to globally specify whether you want to receive email about actions you did.

Most people probably do not need to be reminded of something they did a few minutes ago and will want to turn off those emails.  But, since this is new functionality we’ve preserved the old behavior unless a user changes the setting.  If you do nothing you’ll continue to get email about actions you instigate on bugs.

Opting out of those messages is easy.  Simply go to https://launchpad.net/people/+me/+edit and uncheck the box as shown below by the big red arrow.

opt out of bug mail

As mentioned, this is just the first of many features and refinements that we’re working on to help you customize the stream of bug mail coming from Launchpad to suit your needs.

February 7, 2011
New ‘web_link’ property on API objects

Launchpad has a REST API that exposes almost every object within Launchpad. Most of them have API URLs that closely match the human-readable URL: for instance, https://bugs.launchpad.net/bugs/316694 can also be obtained in machine-oriented JSON or XML form from http://api.launchpad.net/1.0/bugs/316694. (The “1.0″ in that URL means this is in the 1.0 API namespace.)

Previously, many Launchpadlib clients used string transformation to get from the API URL to something they could show a human in a web browser.

We’ve just added a web_link property on all Launchpad objects, so client applications can (and should) now just use that instead. Because this is just sent in the object representation you don’t need to upgrade launchpadlib to see it.

January 11, 2011
Tracking PPA download statistics

An long-requested feature in Launchpad is to let people see who’s using a PPA. Finally, we’ve implemented this!

Initially, the stats are only available on Launchpad’s webservice API. but we aim to show something useful in the web UI at some point.

If you are already familiar with the webservice API, then you can use the following binary_package_publishing_history object methods to retrieve the information:

  • getDailyDownloadTotals
  • getDownloadCount
  • getDownloadCounts

Fabien Tassin is already using the stats to see how many people are using his daily build PPAs, and wrote an interesting blog post about it.

October 4, 2010
More Build Farm Improvements

Continuing with the recent improvements to the build farm – Jelmer has made another massive one.

The last major scalability problem that we had was one where the whole farm was blocked when a single builder was ready to upload a build. In the case of large packages, like the kernel, the manager process could block for over a minute while it waited for the upload processor to unpack the package and verify its contents.

Jelmer’s work has decoupled the upload processing from the build farm manager process. What happens now is that the files collected from the builder are thrown into a staging queue area and then the manager process immediately continues with polling the rest of the builders, unblocked. A cron job will then process the builder upload queue at 1 minute intervals.

You can see the dramatic effect this has had on the overall queue for the PPA builders here:
Build Farm Queue Size

This is quite an incredible improvement as you can see! But we’re not stopping there, we’re currently doing a massive refactoring of the builder dispatching code so it’s all fully asynchronous. When this is all done we’re going to be in superb shape to support an increase in load that’s anticipated from the increasing number of people using the package recipes.