Dependencies on Bodhi Updates

Stephen Gallagher sgallagh at
Mon Mar 26 19:53:09 UTC 2012

As requested during the FESCo meeting, I am going to try to summarize
some of the issues inherent in the way that Bodhi updates currently

First, I'll try to explain the goals and constraints:

1) The stable 'fedora-updates' yum repository should NEVER exist in a
state where any package has dependency issues. In other words, it should
never be possible for an update to be pushed to stable that breaks
cleanly updating any other package.

2) Updates must be possible and (ideally) timely. This is probably

3) Packages pushed to the stable 'fedora-updates' yum repository should
(ideally) not introduce regressions in packages that depend on them.

4) New features in "superpackages" such as Firefox, GNOME or FreeIPA
that have many and varied dependencies may require new features in
packages they depend on in order to enhance or fix the superpackage.

In the trivial example, a package (let's say libtalloc) needs to make an
update to fix a bug. This package requires nothing new from its
dependencies and is a self-contained fix. For this example, it is simple
to just build libtalloc in koji and then create a Bodhi update and pass
it through "updates-testing", get karma and *poof* off to

Now let's extend the example. Suppose that we have another package
libtevent that has libtalloc as a dependency. Libtevent's maintainer
wants to add a new feature to libtevent, but the patch from upstream
depends on the bug in libtalloc having been fixed in order for the new
feature to work properly. In this situation, the maintainer of libtevent
would build libtevent with an explicit Requires: libtalloc >= <version>
in the specfile (possibly pulling libtalloc into the BuildRoot overrides
if necessary) and then test it locally to see that it works.

So now we have our first updates dependency issue. If we submit
libtevent as its own update, it is possible that it will achieve its
karma requirement before libtalloc does. It would then be pushed to the
"fedora-updates" repository and then introduce a dependency issue in the
stable repository (because users trying to update libtevent would be
unable to update libtalloc without enabling the updates-testing

The current recommended approach is to bundle the two updates into a
single one carrying multiple packages. The first problem with this is
that you must have commit privilege on all packages that you are
bundling into an update. If you do not, then you need to track down a
provenpackager to do it for you.

Now let's make the problem even more fun. Consider that the update to
libtevent might be coming in because it is necessary for a new feature
in libldb, which is in turn providing new functionality necessary for
SSSD. So now we have four packages all sitting in the same update. The
problem with this is that the tendency will be to only test the most
user-visible package(s) in the set. In this particular case, that might
be SSSD. So people would likely test SSSD and, if nothing went wrong,
consider the entire update stable.

But wait! SSSD isn't the only package that depends on libldb, libtevent
and libtalloc. So too does the samba package. Suppose that the bugfix in
libtalloc, after resolving the original issue, results in exposing
another more serious bug in samba? Now we need to pull a samba update
into this same update series.

A contrived example, you say? That would never happen, bugfixes aren't
likely to do that. Well, for one example: In this
particular example, we knew up-front that it was going to necessitate a
rebuild of several dependent packages and we coordinated a single
release to address them. So in this case, the proper approach was to
bundle them together in a single update. This worked because we
specifically knew that the libtevent change was going to break other

But what about when we don't know that? Let's take another example:

In this case, there was a security bug reported against Firefox. Such
things are serious, and acted on quickly. However, the bug was actually
fixed in the nss package, and Firefox, Xulrunner and friends were
rebuilt against that nss package. The problem was this: the fix made to
the nss package introduced regressions in every other package that
depended on it. However, because the default install of Firefox
contained no issues, it rapidly received the necessary karma points and
the whole update was pushed to stable. It then broke nearly every
application in Fedora that relied on cryptography.

The problem here was sociological, not technological. The only package
that received testing was Firefox. It's hard to say without evidence
whether the problem would have been averted by having nss go through its
own update, but I strongly suspect that what we would have seen was
greater testing on actual nss features for that specific update.

Of course, we now have the same potential for an issue that I described
above: If we had separate updates for nss and for Firefox, chances would
be highly-likely that Firefox would be pushed to stable via karma points
rapidly, whereas nss (which requires much more careful testing) might be
left behind in updates-testing.

So I really see two options for improving these situations:
1) I opened this ticket two
months ago (to silence). The idea would be to add the ability for bodhi
updates to mark other updates as a dependency, so that in the example
above, Firefox could have been marked as ready for stable, but not
pushed until the nss update was also marked as ready for stable. This to
me seems like the best long-term solution. I'd also like to mention that
Ubuntu's Launchpad system has this capability.

2) We could continue on the "single update for multiple packages"
approach, but revamp the karma system so that each SRPM gets its own
karma, rather than the update as a whole. Then, the whole update would
not be pushed via autokarma until all of the dependent packages had
sufficient karma (or the owner of the update could push them after the
stable wait period, of course).

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