[ubuntu-us] Ubuntu US cluster

Nick Ali nali at ubuntu.com
Fri May 15 04:20:00 BST 2009

I will preface this whole email by saying its just a thought. There
are absolutely no real plans to do anything like this yet. If we ever
decide to pull this off, it will take quite a few dedicated people to
get it rolling. There is no need for people to pipe in to say they are
interested in doing sysadmin work or anything like that. Basically, I
want to know if US LoCos think something like this would be beneficial
at all.

With that nonsense out of the way...

During UDS Jaunty, Dan and I had talked about creating an Ubuntu US
cluster of servers that LoCos could use. We all know the various
problems with trying to use Canonical resources. Assuming we get to
the point where every LoCo in the US is approved, each LoCo worrying
about hosting resources is a waste of time, energy, and money.

This email is just a brain dump, not organized in any way:

 - initially we could start out with a bunch of VPS accounts. A few
for web servers, a few for databases. Depending on needs, maybe we
don't even need to separate them out.
 - if VPS accounts don't work because of loads, we could look into
getting our own servers.
 - ubuntu-eu owns a boat load of servers, mostly used machines that they bought
 - noris (which is smurf's company)  pays for the datacenter costs,
then -eu did fundraising to buy the servers, maybe we could do
something similar or find a sponsor. Hopefully, just for VPSs we could
get someone like linode or slicehost to pick up part of the cost if we
let them add a banner or something.
 - since most LoCos use drupal, we could be set up (hopefully) one big
drupal install and map the subdomains to use "sites" under it. Give
each LoCo their own theme. There should also be some sort of access
control. Can't trust the Florida team with the Georgia team's site :-P
 - The drupal install should be pretty basic (and/or with a set of
approved modules), no random "cool" modules just for the hell of it.
This will make upgrades and maintenance much easier.
 - we might want to separate out the resources into 2 parts: official
supported resources and experimental. Official would be the main LoCo
websites, with planets, etc. Experimental can be for building and
testing out new tools that *might* eventually get merged into official
after some kind of vetting process.
 - If part of the reason we want to move away from Canonical is their
slow responsiveness, we need to find some sysadmins who we can trust
to be around and accessible at least during US times. There are a lot
of people who are active for 2 or 3 months and then disappear. We
can't have that.
 - Does one person from each LoCo get access to the servers? Or a
small team that is responsible for maintaining it? Everything needs to
be locked down with ssh keys and strong passwords.
 - Who can make requests? Team contacts or anyone from the LoCos?
 - Who gets final say? Say person A wants to do something one way,
person B want to do it differently. Who gets to make the call?
 - Back to the official vs experimental: experimental can have a copy
of the official databases, with passwords scrubbed out so LoCos can
play with it. An obvious example would be creating a new theme. LoCos
can actually see what it looks like with real data and once its
working to their liking, it can be deployed to the official servers.
 - Backups are critical. Maybe all files are checked into LP (after
scrubbing passwords)? Maybe a cron job to dump the databases nightly
and email them to a bunch of people?
 - Some kind of issue tracking application would be nice. Issues that
sysadmins need to deal with including priorities.
 - Some kind of collaboration tool would be nice. I think doctormo had
talked about something similar before. If we are doing a campaign
where lots of LoCos could be part of, and the wiki isn't a good way of
tracking, something to help us with organization and workflow.

Dan made an interesting point that I hadn't thought about it. What
exactly defines a LoCo website? I've been assuming the typical Drupal
site. Does it have to be that? Who gets to decide?

Ideas? Thoughts? Too much work? Or should we all just use the -eu resources?


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