Solutions to common policy decisions

Britney complains about a fixed bug in the source suite (bug policy)

All decisions about bugs are related to data set extracted from the bug tracker. If britney says that the new version introduces a bug, then it is because the data set from the bug tracker lists that bug for a version in the source suite, without it appearing for the version(s) in the target suite.

Please note that these data sets do not include versions, so britney is unable to tell exactly which versions are affected. The only thing, it can tell, is what suite the bug affects.

There is a number of common cases, where this is observed:

  • The metadata on the bug is wrong. A known example is the Debian BTS, where if a bug has a fixed version equal to a found version, the bug is considered unfixed.
  • The bug is fixed, but the old version is still around in the source suite. In this case, britney will generally also mention a “missing build” or “old binaries”.

If the metadata is wrong, the solution is to fix it in the bug tracker and wait until britney receives a new data set. In the other case, the recommendation is to see the sections on “missing builds” and “old binaries” below. As long as they are present, the package may be blocked by bugs in the older versions of the binaries.

Britney complains about “missing builds”

A “missing build” happens when britney detects that the binaries for a given architecture are missing or not up to date. This is detected by checking the “Packages” files in the archive, so britney has no knowledge of why the build is missing. Accordingly, this kind of issue is flagged as a “possibly permanent” issue.

If the omission is deliberate (e.g. the new version no longer supports that architecture), then please have the old binaries for that architecture removed from the source suite. Once those are removed, britney will no longer see that as a problem.

Otherwise, please check the build services for any issues with building or uploading the package to the archive.

Common misconceptions: If the architecture is no longer supported, the removal of the old binaries should happen in the source suite (e.g. Debian unstable). However, many people mistakenly request a removal from the target suite (e.g. Debian testing). Unfortunately, this is not the proper solution (and, britney does not support architecture specific removals so it may be difficult to do anyhow).

Britney complains about “old binaries”

Depending on the configuration of the britney instance, this may or may not be a blocker. If the distribution has chosen to enable the “ignore_cruft” option, this is merely a warning/note. That said, even in this mode it can block a package from migration.

This appears when britney detects that there are older versions of the binary packages around, which was built by (an older version of) the same source package.

This is common with distributions where their archive management software is capable of keeping old binaries as long as something depends on them (e.g. DAK as used by Debian). Therefore, the most common solution is to ensure all reverse dependencies are updated to use the new binaries and then have the old ones removed (the latter commonly known as “decrufting”). Technically, this is also solvable by “decrufting” without updating/rebuilding other packages. Though whether this is an acceptable practise depends on the distribution.

Alternatively, if the distribution uses the “ignore_cruft” option, this (in itself) is not a blocker. However, it commonly triggers non-obvious issues:

  • If the bugs policy is enabled, an bug in the old binaries that is fixed in the new version will still be a blocker. Here, the best solution is to get rid of the old binaries.
    • Note: the bugs data is not versioned so britney cannot tell which versions the bug applies to. Just which suite they affect.
  • Even if the migration item is a valid candidate (i.e. all policy checked have passed), it may cause installability regressions as britney will also attempt to keep the old binaries around as long as they are used. The most often cause of this when the old binaries are not co-installable with the new ones.
    • Note: Britney generally only works with the highest version of a given binary. If you have libfoo1 depends on libfoo-data v1 and then libfoo2 depends on libfoo-data v2, then libfoo1 will become uninstallable as libfoo-data v2 will “shadow” libfoo-data v1.

Britney complains about “Piuparts”

Britney can be configured to take the results of piuparts (package installation, upgrading and removal testing suite) into account. Currently this policy is only taking into account the piuparts result for installing and purging the package in the source suite and the target suite (so no upgrade test). As with the other policies, a regression means that the package passes in the target suite, but fails in the source suite. Unless this is a bug in piuparts, the package needs to be fixed first to install and purge cleanly in the non-interactive debconf state. An URL to the relevant piuparts results is provided in the excuses.

Britney complains about “autopkgtest”

Maintainers can add autopkgtest test cases to their packages. Britney can be configured to request a test runner instance (in the case of Debian, this is debci) to run relevant tests. The idea is that a package that is a candidate for migration is updated in the target suite to its candidate version and that the autopkgtest case(s) of the package (if it has any) and those of all reverse dependencies are run. Regression in the results with respect to the current situation in the target suite can influence migration in the following ways, depending on britney’s configuration:

  • migration is blocked
  • regression adds to the required time a package needs to be in the source suite before migration is considered (via the age policy). This time can then be used to investigate the situation and potentially block migration via other policies (e.g. the bug policy).

Regression in the autopkgtest of the candidate package just needs to be fixed in the package itself. However, due to the addition of test cases from reverse dependencies, regression in this policy may come from a test case that the package does not control. If that is the case, the maintainers of the package and the maintainers of the regressing test case typically need to discuss and solve the issue together. The maintainers of the package have the knowledge of what changed, while the maintainers of the reverse dependency with the failing test case know what and how the test is actually testing. After all, a regression in a reverse dependency can come due to one of the following reasons (of course not complete):

  • new bug in the candidate package (fix the package)
  • bug in the test case that only gets triggered due to the update (fix the reverse dependency, but see below)
  • out-of-date reference date in the test case that captures a former bug in the candidate package (fix the reverse dependency, but see below)
  • deprecation of functionality that is used in the reverse dependency and/or its test case (discussion needed)

Unfortunately sometimes a regression is only intermittent. Ideally this should be fixed, but it may be OK to just have the autopkgtest retried (how this is to be achieved depends on the setup that is being used).

There are cases where it is required to have multiple packages migrate together to have the test cases pass, e.g. when there was a bug in a regressing test case of a reverse dependency and that got fixed. In that case the test cases need to be triggered with both packages from the source suite in the target suite (again, how this is done depends on the setup).

If britney is configured to add time to the age policy in case of regression, a test case that hasn’t been run (but ran successfully in the past) will also cause the penalty to be added. This is harmless, because once the results come in, the penalty will no longer be effective. Similarly, a missing build will also cause the (harmless) penalty.

A failing test that has never succeeded in britney’s memory will be treated as if the test case doesn’t exist.

On top of the penalties for regressions, britney can be configured to reward bounties for packages that have a successful test case.