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Multi-User Proposal For p2

This document is based on

  • Our current design implementation for multi-user using Eclipse 3.2.
  • bug 185826 - [prov] separate the install folder
  • Wiki topic “Multi-User Install Concerns”
  • Weekly discussion topic for 0813 on shared install.


I have to make a few assumptions since there are many areas that are not either developed or I have not had time to explore.

  • Touchpoints will support mechanisms that currently are managed using install handlers.


  • This proposal describes a wiring of components based on known use cases and discussions.
  • It is not expected to be optimal or complete. It has not been reviewed as this is a first pass.
  • This proposal will start with the most complex case, multi-user. It can then be decomposed into the simpler use cases.


Because many technical terms have been overloaded, I have provided definitions for this document:

  • Configuration is the set of bundles OSGi starts for a user. It would also include native artifacts and environment related to these bundles.
  • Configuration directory is a private user writable area that contains the files necessary to manage a user’s configuration.
  • Workspace is a private writable area that contains a user’s data related to using a configuration.
  • Proxy will be used to represent a shifted responsibility for management of a user or admin function.
  • There are at least 4 mutually exclusive phase/operations – install, configure, unconfigure, uninstall. Because of the current eclipse most think of install as also performing a configure. In this document that will not be the case. Since the P2 engine does not yet have hard definitions for what is an operation and what is a phase I am forced to be a little ambiguous.
  • Shared areas are any file folders and shared native artifacts that multiple users are expected to have access. Generally users will have read and execute access and only the administrator will have full access.

Problems residing in current eclipse (3.x)

  • The shared install mentioned in many places and in bug 185826 refer to an admin providing a configuration that is shared. What the admin should provide is functionality that the user (or proxy) can chose to use. In the current eclipse a shared configuration may mean it will be loaded. It also means a version has been preselected and may prevent running an unrelated bundle because of conflicts. If it is started and not used it bloats the running image. If a user wants to use a JVM with reduced functionality but the shared image requires more functionality we will have resolution problems. By separating out the management of configuration from the installation of the shared bundles we can avoid problems.
  • The configurator when using the user-exclude policy was eager to change the configuration based on timestamps and version numbers. While this might be great for dropping plugins into a configuration it is bad for a generic solution to multi-user. The configurator should load the configuration and leave the modification of the configuration to the Agent.
  • The validator validated the configuration for each feature installed. This makes it impossible to get a successful validation for some dependency graphs. The validator must validate the configuration projected from pending changes.

Operations on the shared multi-user areas

  • The install operation will put new plugins and IUs in the designated place. Since these artifacts are by definition new versions or new plugins, user are free to keep working with their existing configurations. This operation has to be performed by the administrator. The new artifacts can be fetched in-place, there is no need to cache. Touchpoint actions can also be performed in the shared areas. Flag: There may be special cases for touchpoint actions that need special handling.
  • The configure operation must be performed by users. Since every thing has been previously installed its sole purposes is to modify the users configuration directory and execute touchpoint operations related to this user. These touchpoint actions can not modify the shared areas during a configure operation.
  • The unconfigure operation should undo what was performed by the configure operation. This has to be performed by the user.
  • The uninstall operation can be a cleanup operation. It should undo what was performed in the install action. If it is performed after all users have unconfigured then the admin is free to remove artifacts as a convenient time. We will delay explaining options for removal until the end of the document.
  • Definitions of touchpoint actions will not be addressed in this section.
  • Install and uninstall operations will be performed by the user agent for user areas.

Profiles, Installable Units (IUs), and bundles.txt

  • bundles.txt resides in the user’s configuration directory and represents the list of bundles to start, the start level and if it needs to be started.
  • Profiles and IUs define a graph of what should be installed. For this discussion I will use Profile to describe a high-level requirement and IUs to describe artifacts needed to resolve the profile(s). This is not strictly true in P2 as IUs can just be a container describing other IUs to be installed.

Core agent component

  • This core component consist of all bundles and artifacts required to launch a provisioning application. It be preconfigured with a configuration directory that contains a bundles.txt that represents this core. This means that it can be downloaded as a zip file, unzipped and executed without any other work or minimal work.
  • Any dependencies on this core provisioning component should be described as requirements to an OSGi service interface and import of packages. IU version matching requirements should be no tighter than the compatible level. This will allow the wholesale replacement of the core agent without creating dependency conflicts. This should be possible for the provisioning part. What about the rest of the core?
  • It would be necessary to define an IU that implements each the os, ws, and arch filters supported for the core component.

Administrator role when installing for multi-user

  • Administrator downloads core agent component and the required profiles.
  • Because it is an administrative role, the agent will only run for the install operation. The install operation can also include some touchpoint actions (including modification of files in the shared area, modification of global registry values). It would not include the modification of user configuration directories since there is no way to know all the locations or to have access rights to these private areas.
  • If desired the admin may run the agent as a user which will create a user configuration for the admin.

User role in multi-user install

  • User will launch the agent application which is in the shared areas.
  • We detect that this user is not an admin.
  • We create the user a new workspace and configuration. It will initially be populated with the core component bundles.txt or it will be referenced. Launcher support may be needed to do this.
  • Using the install registry for the shared area, the user’s agent can determine what is installed and available to be configured for the user.
  • Using profiles pointed to or provided, the agent builds the remainder of the user’s configuration.
  • Agent exits or restarts the user’s configuration.

RPM install

  • The core RPM should contain the core components described above and any necessary profiles. The installation of the RPM would be free to remove the previous core and install the new one. It can then launch the agent and it can provision additional components described in the profile(s).
  • A core UI RPM could add a profile that would add UI components if desired. It would have a requires on “gtk2” or something, thereby not allowing it to be installed on a Linux box without gtk2. It would also prevent gtk2 from being uninstalled without warnings and errors.
  • Since RPM does not manage multiple version easily, the provisioning of items outside of the core should be left to the agent and profiles. RPM could possibly manage layers of profiles. Each of these RPMs should define required system components dependencies.

Native artifacts

  • If at all possible native components should be packed as plugins and remain in the eclipse installed area. This leads to simpler provisioning operations. This greatly simplifies running on various operating systems.

Property Files

I will describe how we have been able to manage launch parameters. They fall into 3 categories:

  • Global. There are not many of these but they are critical for launching from a relocatable file system (mounted remotely for example). They are also necessary for the launching of different JVMs. This would be the eclipse.ini file in the current P2 implementation.
  • User. Most properties reside here. If each user has a different configuration and then it is natural that the properties should be user based. These also need to support a relocatable file system. These are usually managed by a feature’s install handler (now a touchpoint action) and set on launch by the launcher.
  • Plugin/IU. The problem here is that each type of JVM requires different launch parameters.

At some point we should look at how we manage the various properties and see if it can be managed better with a different scheme. But, it works for a fair level of complexity.

Profiles are controlled by policy decisions

  • Which profiles apply to a user is a policy decision. Decisions could be made remotely, by the administrator, by the user, or a combination of these.
  • A profile might also contain entirely optional IUs. For instance a user might use the provisioning UI to connect to a repository profile and then select which IUs to install.

Single user install

  • Profiles are obtained for a user as is done for multi-user case.
  • Agent detects that this is a single user install and performs an install operation followed by a configure operation.

Uninstall operation

  • Use-counts on artifacts can be used to know when to uninstall. This can be accomplished with a global tracking mechanisms of some kind. Even then, we can have a user that does not migrate when asked and this mechanism will fail by itself.
  • Users can be forced to upgrade on their next start. This can be done by monitoring the profile version numbers. If the version has changed, a migration to the next profile level is initiated.
  • Force an upgrade by only keeping 1 version of shared artifacts. When the user detects that his configuration is invalid (either though profile version change or error on startup) the agent reconciles and updates the user configuration. Because we are using a unified core agent component we can guarantee that a user will be able to run the agent.

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