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Equinox/p2/Repository Association

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This page is for collecting background information, requirements, and proposed solutions for the p2 Galileo plan item on improving the repository association model. Roughly, this problem area has two facets:

  1. Association of repositories with installable units. How are the repositories initially seeded, and how does an administrator or bundle provider specify/control the repositories used to install/update a given IU?
  2. Association of repositories with each other. How do groups of repositories interact to perform provisioning operations that span multiple repositories?

This document uses the terms "producer" and "consumer" in a particular way. In this document, "producer" means a developer that is authoring bundles, features, and associated metadata. The term "consumer" refers to someone using the artifacts and metadata created by some producer. The consumer could either be the end user of the software created by the consumer ("user"), or a third party managing the deployment of the software to their own end users ("publisher"). This document also refers to the p2 user personas (Steve, Laurel, Dave, and Ellen), which describes prototypical examples of different kinds of p2 consumers.

Historical Information

Repository Association in Update Manager


Prior to the introduction of p2, Update Manager (UM for short), had various mechanisms for managing repository associations:

  1. Feature update sites. Each feature specified the update site to be used for updating that feature. If a parent feature included a child feature, the parent feature's update site would override the child's update site.
  2. Feature discovery sites. Each feature could optionally specify one or more update sites containing features of interest to users of that features. These repositories would be shown to the user at the beginning of the install wizard workflow
  3. Associate sites. Each site 'S' could specify additional associate sites. Those associate sites would be used in the context of any provisioning operation against site 'S'. This is how Update Manager handled provisioning operations spanning multiple sites.
  4. Site policy file. A policy file can be specified, which causes feature updates to be redirected to an alternate site.


The problem with 1 and 2 above is that they represent the producer's view of what site should be used when updating a feature. A consumer wishing to control the sites shown to their user, or wishing to use internal mirrors to save bandwidth, may want to override the producer's choice of update site. Policy files help with this problem by redirecting the sites specified for 1 above, but didn't help with exposure of the producer's choice of discovery sites (2).

One problem with policy files (4) is that they didn't offer strong control. The policy file had to be set by the end user, which required a manual user step and was vulnerable to a power user altering it. The had the additional problem that since the policy file was typically on a server, the product would default back to the producer's choice of sites when the policy server is unreachable.

Repository Association in p2 1.0


The only association mechanism in p2 1.0 was repository references. A repository 'R' could specify additional referenced repositories that would be added to the list of available repositories the first time 'R' was loaded. Unlike associate sites, the references weren't constrained to particular operational scope. A referenced site could be used directly by the end user to initial provisioning operations not involving repository 'X'. References could either specify the referenced site to be "enabled" or "disabled" by default. Overall, repository references were a hybrid of associate sites, update sites, and discovery sites with some characteristics of each.


p2 1.0 had the following strategy to manage compatibility with Update Manager repository association concepts:

  1. When the p2 generator was run to convert an UM site into a p2 repository, the site's associate repositories were converted into repository references. The update sites for each features would also be converted to repository references. Feature discovery sites were converted to disabled repository references.
  2. When installing a feature from a legacy UM site (site.xml), the site's associate sites were treated like repository references, causing them to be added as enabled sites in the repository managers. For every feature in the site, its update and discovery sites would be added to the list of known repositories (update sites enabled, discovery sites disabled)
  3. When discovering features in the plugins/dropins folders, the feature's update and discovery sites would be added to the list of known repositories (update sites enabled, discovery sites disabled)


Some problems with the p2 1.0 model:

  1. Association between repositories was not maintained. When repository 'R' was removed, its referenced sites were not also removed
  2. A repository could not be constrained to particular operations (updates on feature 'F') or scopes (installs/updates involving repository 'R').
  3. No way to set the available sites for a given product at build-time, or to add additional repositories at install-time.

User Cases

  1. Permissive install (Steve/Laurel). Specify an initial set of repositories for an install, but end user may alter it thereafter.
  2. Controlled install (Ellen). Producer tightly controls available repositories. Ellen can't change the repositories, and needn't even be aware what repositories exist. A publisher may want to alter the producer's choice of repository, but maintain the same simple user workflow.
  3. A repository provides IUs (features/plugins), but those IUs have dependencies on IUs in other repositories. The publisher needs to be able to specify where to get the additional dependencies without user interaction. Another party re-publishing the same content may want to specify different places to obtain dependencies.
  4. Multiple parties produce repositories for their own content. A publisher wants to aggregate all these sites into a single repository from the user's perspective without copying the contents (e.g., Eclipse release train federating repositories produced by individual Eclipse projects).


Bug reports

  • bug 234313 - Need better way to model the various UM associate sites
  • bug 242396 - Control the repository presented to the user
  • bug 231039 - [ui] In the "Software Updates" dialog make all site management functions optional and configurable