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Equinox/p2/Multiple Agents

< Equinox‎ | p2


Existing p2 service model

In the Ganymede and Galileo releases, p2 used a service model that assumed all services were singletons. In particular, the API and implementation assumed there would only ever be one planner, director, engine, metadata repository manager, etc, available at any given time. This was reinforced through use of helper classes such as ServiceHelper that performed simple OSGi service lookups without providing any context that would allow for a particular instance among multiple available instances to be selected.

This "singleton" service model is very limiting because it requires a separate VM/framework to be forked if another p2-managed system is to be manipulated. For example if PDE wants to manipulate a target platform, or a build system wants to export/provision into a separate system, it cannot be done in the same process.

Agent locations

Metadata representing an Eclipse configuration managed by p2 is stored in a p2 agent location. While multiple profiles can theoretically be managed from a single location, the most common case is that each application has its own private agent location. This is the eclipse/p2 directory in an Eclipse SDK install. All p2 services at some point need to know which agent location they are operating against, so they know where to access/store metadata representing the system being provisioned or manipulated.

In a system where multiple instances of p2 services are running, it becomes important to determine which of the available implementations to use at any given time. In particular a director or engine operating on a given location must use the IProfileRegistry, IProvisioningEventBus, etc, matching that location. This is the crux of the p2 singleton service problem we are seeking to solve in the next release of p2.

p2 Agent API

Using the agent API

p2 Helios contains a new IProvisioningAgent API. An agent instance represents a single agent location on disk, and all service instances linked to that location. When running the Eclipse platform, an instance of IProvisioningAgent is registered as an OSGi service, representing the agent of the currently running system. Other p2 services can be obtained from this agent interface:

IProvisioningAgent agent = bundleContext.getService(...);
IDirector director = (IDirector)agent.getService(IDirector.SERVICE_NAME);

To obtain an agent instance for another location, the IProvisioningAgentProvider service is used:

IProvisioningAgentProvider provider = bundleContext.getService(...);
IProvisioningAgent agent = provider.createAgent(new URI("file:/some/location"));
IDirector director = (IDirector)agent.getService(IDirector.SERVICE_NAME);

The agent for the currently running system can also be obtained by invoking createAgent(null) on the IProvisioningAgentProvider. Note that a client who instantiates an agent by invocating createAgent must stop the agent when they are finished using it by invoking IProvisioningAgent#stop().

Contributing a service to an agent

The agent itself doesn't know anything about specific services such as the director, engine, etc. The system is completely pluggable because some p2 applications may only require a small subset of the available p2 services. The different p2 bundles contribute services to the agent by providing an IAgentServiceFactory, typically via a DS component. A property on the factory describes what service it is providing. For example, here is the DS component definition for the factory that provides the engine:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<scr:component xmlns:scr="" 
   <implementation class="org.eclipse.equinox.internal.p2.engine.EngineComponent"/>
      <provide interface="org.eclipse.equinox.p2.core.spi.IAgentServiceFactory"/>

In essence this declaration says, "This is a component that provides an agent service factory that knows how to create engines". Typically a given p2 service relies on services provided by other p2 bundles. To ensure that each instance gets wired up to the correct instances of other services, it must obtain those services from the agent from within the factory method. For example the profile registry requires the agent location (so it knows where the registry lives on disk), and the event bus (so it can broadcast profile change events). These dependencies are satisfied in the factory method:

public Object createService(IProvisioningAgent agent) {
  AgentLocation location = (AgentLocation) agent.getService(AgentLocation.SERVICE_NAME);
  SimpleProfileRegistry registry = new SimpleProfileRegistry(
  registry.setEventBus((IProvisioningEventBus) agent.getService(IProvisioningEventBus.SERVICE_NAME));
  return registry;

This will cause the AgentLocation and IProvisioningEventBus services to be instantiated if necessary. If those services in turn require other services, those dependencies will be satisfied when their factory method runs. In this way the entire service dependency tree is loaded as each service is needed.

p2 implementation cleanup

The p2 implementation is gradually being moved over to support multiple agents. In the meantime, exemplarysetup continues to register each of the services for the currently running system (IEngine, IDirector, etc), so all existing code continues to work but only against the current system. Some guidelines on moving to a multi-agent world:

  • The general approach is to pass services into an object that needs them, rather than have the object reach out. The services can be passed in the constructor, or via a setter method if they are things that may change throughout the lifetime of the object using the service.
  • Avoid creating and using static convenience methods that require p2 services. Since static methods don't have any way to determine which agent to use, they can't select the right agent. This includes generic conveniences like ServiceHelper, but also classes like ProvisioningUtil, org.eclipse.equinox.internal.p2.touchpoint.eclipse.Util, etc. Instead, whoever is reaching out to these static helpers should instead generally have the required services passed into them.
  • We might not need all of p2 to be multi-agent aware. For example the console or even the UI might be ok with their current assumption that they only operate on the agent of the currently running system. However, it wouldn't hurt for all p2 bundles to isolate out service lookup from the rest of their code to increase flexibility.


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