04 Feb 2019, 17:15

Pkgsrc Buildbots

After talking to Sijmen Mulder on IRC (thanks, TGV Wi-Fi!), I began thinking more about how you could automate the pkgsrc release engineers away.

The basic idea for a buildbot would be this:

  1. Download and unpack latest pkgsrc.tar.gz for the stable branch.
  2. Run the pullup script with the ticket number, then run whatever pullup script it outputs.
  3. Figure out the package that this concerns (perhaps from filenames).
  4. Go to the package in question, install its dependencies from binary packages.
  5. Build (make package is probably enough, or perhaps also install?).
  6. Upload build log to Cloud Storage.
  7. Post an email to the pullup thread with status and a link to the log.

For extra points, do this in a fresh, ephemeral VM, triggered by an incoming mail.

You would also need a buildbot supervisor that receives mails (to know that it should build something) and that launches the VM. I know that Google App Engine could do it, as it can receive emails. But maybe Cloud Functions would be the way to go?

In any case, this would be a cool project for someone, maybe myself :)

Issues with Pull-up Ticket Tracking

This project is largely orthogonal to improvements in the pullup script. Right now, there are a number of issues with it that make it require manual intervention in many cases:

  • The tracker (req) doesn’t do MIME, so sometimes mails are encoded with base64 or quoted-printale. This breaks parsing the commit mails.
  • Sometimes, submitters of tickets insert mail-index.netbsd.org URLs instead of copies of the message.
  • Some pullup tickets include a patch instead of, or in addition to, a list of commits. For instance, this may happen when backporting a fix to an older release instead of pulling up a bigger update.
  • Sometimes, commit messages are truncated, or there are merge conflicts. This mostly happens when there has been a revbump before the change that is to be committed – in the majority of cases, the merge conflicts only concern PKGREVISION lines.

I am wondering how much we could gain, e.g. in terms of MIME support, from changing the request tracking software. admins@ uses RT, which has more features. Perhaps that could be brought to pullup tickets?

18 Jan 2018, 19:44

New Blog!

My new year’s resolution for 2018 has been to blog more. So I decided to create an actual blog!

It started with me closing my Amazon AWS account and writing about it. The posting was up as a Gist on Github, and I shared that URL. This does give a useful viewer and the ability to add comments, but it is hardly discoverable. Anyway, the post was somewhat widely circulated (the provocative title certainly helped) and even made it to Reddit.

After deciding to create a real blog, I started looking into how to do that:

Now I finally have something up and running. The address is simple enough, and based on my Twitter handle:


In true Open Source tradition, the source code for the site is visible online at https://github.com/bsiegert/blog.

For now, I am quite happy with this setup.

The setup

  • Hugo with the purehugo theme,
  • Firebase Hosting,
  • domain at HostTech.

The site itself is created with the excellent Hugo, which has the added advantage of being written in Go :) The installation is as easy as

go get github.com/gohugoio/hugo

or by using the www/hugo package in pkgsrc. Hugo ends up creating a fully static web site, so simple static hosting is enough.

Google Cloud Storage supports hosting a static web site – that’s great, right? Well, not quite. There is no support for HTTPS in plain GCS. If you want HTTPS, apparently you need:

  1. The GCS bucket that holds the files,
  2. A Cloud Load Balancer instance in front
  3. Cloud CDN for delivering content from the edge.

Or, you can use Firebase Hosting, also by Google. This is what I am doing. A simple firebase deploy uploads all the static files, and an SSL certificate is included in the offer.

I tried using Google Domains to register the domain but that service is not available in Switzerland, unfortunately. hosttech.ch to the rescue! It took me a while to figure out that (a) a DNS zone for the domain is included and (b) how to add entries to it.

To get Firebase Hosting to serve directly on the domain, it is necessary to add a google-site-verification TXT record into the DNS for it. And that’s it.

03 Dec 2017, 22:16

Leaving AWS

Today, I deleted my Amazon AWS account.

And done!

I had been on AWS since about 2011. My usage was mainly for two things:

  1. Saving large amounts of files (build logs and such) on S3;
  2. Running NetBSD VMs on EC2.

EC2 is based on Xen, and NetBSD runs really well in PV (paravirtualized) mode on Xen. However, XSA-240 means that a malicious PV guest may crash (or even otherwise exploit) the hypervisor, with the recommended fix being to not run untrusted PV guests. Over night, Amazon disabled PV, making NetBSD VMs useless.

In general, EC2 has been moving away from Xen. The newer instance types already no longer supported PV; there are two higher-performance paravirtualized modes (PVH and PVHVM) that are preferred these days, and that NetBSD does not support. The newest machine types use a custom hypervisor based on KVM.

The way the PV change was rolled out highlighted another long-standing EC2 problem: instances would continue running until the server they ran on got rebooted, at which point they were migrated to a random machine. If the target machine had PV disabled, the VM simply did not come up again. I have had the same type of issue in the past, where your VM randomly landed on a “good” or a “bad” machine and did not come up on the bad one. There is no way (AFAIK) to constrain to a certain subset of servers, e.g. running a certain hypervisor version.

Also, of course, there was no warning or announcement, just that VMs stopped working all of a sudden. A bunch of people were completely caught by surprise when their service became unavailable. I hope you have monitoring!?

The Alternative

Which brings me to where I did take my workloads: Google Cloud Platform.

(This has nothing to do whatsoever with who my employer is. I pay for my GCP usage with my own money.)

These days, NetBSD (8+) runs great on Google Compute Engine. There is a script (that I created) to stage instances at https://github.com/google/netbsd-gce, though there are no official NetBSD images around. My S3 usage works equally well using Google Cloud Storage. And I have always been a fan of App Engine, particularly because of its great Go support. https://bulktracker.appspot.com/ runs on App Engine.


My general impression is: Features are roughly on par, prices on GCP are a bit cheaper, and the Google Cloud SDK and command-line tools are better. So rather than let old, unusable VM images continue to rot and pay Amazon 2$ a month for that bit of storage, I let go of that AWS account. Bye, Amazon.