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From Aaron Mulder <>
Subject Re: Config management and installation
Date Mon, 16 May 2005 23:53:19 GMT
	I'll resond in a sec to the Wiki and the thread.  To summarize:  
I don't disagree with the goals, but I don't think we're offering 
something that reaches them either -- and I think we've sacrificed a lot 
of usability to get there.  I think we'd do well to put together a more 
comprehensive list of our goals and then figure out the best way to work 
towards them.  That said...

	I read the Wiki page.  I'm not sure I follow the stated principle
of "configuring applications not configuring servers".  For example, let's
say you want to deploy "web application v. 1.2.3 using Jetty v. 2.3.4
listening on HTTPS on port 8443".  It sounds like you're saying you could
deploy the web application with the note that it should require the stated
Jetty environment as a precondition.  I can see that would be nice.  No
need to check your 1000 servers to make sure that environment is present
-- simply shoot off your application bundle 1000 times and on each box it
will deploy if the environment is there and not if it isn't, and maybe you
get back a report "912 deployments successful, 88 failed", or maybe the
whole things rolls back (ha ha), whatever.

	But we don't offer that.  If some of the boxes have Tomcat, some
have Jetty on 8080 only, some have Jetty with SSL on 443, and some have
Jetty with SSL on 8443, the app will cheerfully deploy on the last three
groups but not the first one.  Further, if some of the boxes have the
wrong version of Jetty, but it happens to have been deployed with a
similar plan in the same order (thus getting the same config name and ID),
I think we'll cheerfully use that too.  So I don't think we offer any of
the advantages touted on the Wiki page.

	Well, I have to take that back to some degree.  You can install
1000 blank servers -- with no configurations except "System" and a
deployer (though without J2EE features how can you have an application
deployer?).  Then your deployment operation can deploy like 10
simultaneous configurations, including J2EE Features, Jetty, ActiveMQ,
Database pools, Applications, etc.  So you can deploy a perfectly
identical configuration of the whole stack in one shot to tons of servers.  
But I think you have to do it in multiple steps (J2EE features then
deployer then services then apps or whatever), so you probably lose any
atomicness, and it would still be easier to get it working on one box, tar
that up, sftp it to 999 boxes, and untar it there and then start it (or
use a common DB as the config store to begin with, which we also haven't
addressed AFAIK).  Perhaps you could replace all the guts of a running
server (remove apps, remove services, remove deployer, remove J2EE
features, then reverse the process with a new version).  But if the 1000
servers start in different states to begin with, that probably won't work
either, unless we add a "remove everything" command.  I'l not exactly sure 
what need we're addressing, and if we could clarify that, it would 
probably make the necessary features jump out a bit more.

(Do we yet have a deployer that lets you copy a "bundle" from one server
to another?)


	As far as the thread quoted below goes, I'm in 100% agreement with
the facts.  If you want to change your ports, you must use the install
routine, configure the ports using the installer UI, and let it deploy the
customized configurations when first building your custom server

	However, I consider this to be bad not good.  It's a nice
convenience feature to be able to customize ports during installation.  
It's pretty bad that customizing the installation is the *only* way to
change ports.  It's dumb that our offline configuration and deployment
features are nonexistant.  I wince every time I say "well, uh, if you want
to change ports, uh, you can reinstall the product and be sure to use the
installer not the zip".  People say "that's so stupid!  I can't believe
it's been a year and you still can't edit config settings!"  I say "no,
really, it's a 'feature'...  Plus I'm sure we'll have a tool some day.  
Really, uh, the installer is pretty cool."

	I suppose I could tell them to edit the plan and redeploy the
"J2EE Server" configuration.  I don't like that option very much either,
especially if you can't do it without starting the server (or starting
enough of it to access the deployer).  Though I guess the installer does
that in order to deploy your custom version anyway (ick).  BTW, the
installer can't replace Jetty with Tomcat.  It can only add Tomcat.  It
can't ensure that you don't assign the same port to both.  It can't
disable or enable SSL or AJP.  If we give Jetty and Tomcat identical Names
then you could pick one of the two and the rest of the dependencies would
still be OK, but the installer can't enforce that either.  Sure, we can
probably create a more robust installer, that does more automatic editing
of plans, adds various validations, etc.  But nothing like that exists 


	I don't disagree with the principle of repeatable deployments and
the assurance that things run as intended.  I just don't feel that our
current implementation actually offers that, and it also doesn't offer the
ease of use features that would make it attractive to less "enterprise"
(less "1000 servers") customers.  It doesn't seem to live up to the needs
of either group.

	I'd like to start from the principles we're targeting and think 
about what's really the best way to achieve them.  I think we can come up 
with something better than we have now.

	For example, one possiblity:  it might not be a bad start to work
with the existing infrastructure but save to XML instead of Serilization
-- or save to both but rescan from XML if the XML timestamp is more recent
than the Serialization timestamp, or if there were any errors during 
deserialization.  Even with no serialization you get nice configuration 
bundles you can copy from server to server, and a user can edit the config 
if it's wrong.

	Still, this is looking at trees not forest.  Maybe we should just
have a thread to talk about who we're targeting and what features we need
to offer to satisfy them, and then we can talk about what's the most
effective implementation to deliver the most value in our 1.0 release.  
Maybe we'll discover that we're on the path already and I just don't 
realize it.  Maybe we'll discover there's a better way to reach the goals 
you're after.  But I don't feel like we've really had that conversation.


P.S. It's my opinion that we need to address this before a 1.0 release,
even once TCK testing is totally complete.  Most of it doesn't have any
bearing on compliance, so long as whatever the proposed solution is
doesn't actually break the plans that pass the tests.

On Sun, 15 May 2005, Jeremy Boynes wrote:
> A couple of questions keep coming up about Geronimo's configuration 
> management system; things like:
> * How do I change things during installation?
> * How do I change things when the server is not running?
> * Are we going to give the configuration plans to users?
> * WTF is all this stuff anyway?
> I was going to include background here but thought it was easier to 
> place it directly on the wiki. It can be found at:
> With that in mind, here we go ...
> During installation we are really doing three things:
> 1) Installing the kernel and configuration management system
> 2) Installing the configuration bundles we want this server to run
> 3) Performing local-server configuration overrides
> The first is easy, just install the jars and any of their dependencies 
> in the appropriate place. The user will need to specify where that is, 
> and will need to specify the configuration management system being used 
> (e.g. what are the default Repository, ConfigurationManager and 
> ConfigStore implementations).
> This gives us a minimal environment where we can install other 
> configuration bundles and which can run *inside the installer.* On to 
> phase two.
> --- Phase Two
> Which configuration bundles to install will depend on just what the user 
> wants this server to do: is it full J2EE or just the web teir? do they 
> want the deployment system configured? is this just an app client 
> environment? Based on the responses, the installer can build a list of 
> configuration bundles to install, and then use the environment built in 
> phase one to to install them.
> This leaves us with a server environment built to the user's 
> specification with standard bundles installed. That may be enough, but 
> if there are local overrides needed, on to phase three.
> --- Phase Three
> Once the bundles have been installed, the user may still have local 
> overrides. For example, we may have installed a generic HTTP connector 
> listening on port 8080 and they may want to change that.
> The installer has access to the Configuration instances it installed and 
> to the persistent properties of the GBeans they contain. Values 
> specified in the installer can be used to override those property values 
> simply by setting the GBean attributes. The GBeans do not need to be 
> started to do that so there is no risk of conflict with other things 
> running on the system.
> When the installer shuts down its kernel the GBean state will be 
> persisted, ready to be restored the first time the user starts the server.
> ---
> There is no requirement here to give the actual source plans to users. 
> They don't form a very friendly UI :-) and instead we should be using 
> steps in the installer for the local configuration. Is there an easy way 
> to make that modular (e.g. by including helper code in the bundle itself)?
> Having said that, the plans do form the ultimate definition of what the 
> bundle will contain and I would include them in the distro as 
> documentation and so that users don't have to get them from a source 
> bundle. We did that with Gluecode's distro.
> ---
> OK, I hope that makes some kind of sense. If it sounds vaguely familiar, 
> it should do - it is very similay to how the assembly module pulls 
> things together. I'd almost be tempted to describe installation as 
> 'assemble-on-site'.
> --
> Jeremy

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