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Subject: [boost] [infrastructure] The vault vs. project hosting vs. Boost hosting? (was: sandbox or boost vault)
From: Rene Rivera (grafikrobot_at_[hidden])
Date: 2011-07-16 23:22:02

Since the subject has come up of the vault vs. the subversion sandbox
vs. something else I'm bringing up the various related issues and some
of the options I'm aware of. This post is in two parts that are partly
related: a) what to do with the vault content? and b) should Boost look
for other hosting resources? ..

On 7/16/2011 8:03 PM, Dave Abrahams wrote:
> on Fri Jul 15 2011, Rene Rivera<> wrote:
>> On 7/15/2011 3:33 PM, Dave Abrahams wrote:
>>> on Fri Jul 15 2011, Sean Farrow<> wrote:
>>> However, it's not intended that you put your library there for review.
>>> Ideally, you should get your own github account and publish the library
>>> that way.
>> Just wondering...
>> When and how that decision made?
> Sorry, I realize that the way I phrased this could have led you to
> misunderstand me. The last two sentences above are not an official
> position, but my personal recommendation.

Got it.. I was a bit puzzled, is all.

> BoostPro made the decision to discontinue hosting the vault for these
> reasons:
> * We've never been happy with the security implications
> * We have been saying for quite some time we wanted to discontinue it
> * It broke a few times and we spent resources fixing it
> * The last time it broke, we actually couldn't figure out what was wrong
> So there we were: the vault was down, and had been for some time.

Which all makes sense.. And I'm all for not using the outdated and
not-really-secure software the vault was using.

> Supporting the vault had been costing us time, and there are many free
> services that could serve the same purpose, only much better. We
> further invested our resources in moving the vault's current contents to
> GitHub and setting up redirects so that the contents would remain
> accessible to the community. We only just got that job finished a
> couple of days ago.

Which I guess is fine as a backup of what was there. Although the
functionality is not the same. So I guess this is more of a transition
until we figure out what else to do.

> Boost is of course free to move the contents of those repositories
> wherever it sees fit, and to make whatever decision it wants about how
> to fill the vault's role in the future.
>> When and how was it communicated? Has the documentation for library
>> submission been changed to reflect this?
>> Did I miss something from the steering committee?
> Since there was no official decision from the steering committee, there
> was nothing to communicate. "What should we do about the vault contents
> and how should the documentation be changed" would be a fine topic to
> bring up here.

And hence I'm bringing it up..


As I see it something like the project hosting of Github doesn't fit the
bill of what the vault's intent was: To provide a really low barrier
proposed project code sharing with enough features to determine interest
in those projects. The features we wanted for the vault where:

* Only requirement to post was user self-registration.
* Minimally provide for archive uploads (and downloads).
* Download counts, to determine interest.
* Some form of descriptions for the posted files.

Feature that I think we might also want in a better vault:

* Some form of feedback for posted files. This is to capture the people
that don't want to join the mailing lists (which I've run into many
instances of this.. on IRC).
* "Versioning" on the posted files. So that authors can post updates
without loosing the download count history.
* An expanded file/project description to attract downloads.
* An RSS feed for people to watch a project's files.
* Some form of topical tagging (instead of the hierarchical directory
structure) of project/files.

Of course the other choice in all of this is to abandon providing a
vault service and leave it up to individuals to figure out some other
way to post their files. Which I guess is what Dave is suggesting above.
I don't know enough about Github to see if it can deliver on the above
features, so I will leave that for others to comment on. But if I had to
choose I would likely use the Google project hosting. It seems to have
all the features (except for the tagging AFAICT) in a manner that is
easy, and immediate, to operate. Plus of course all the additional
features most open-source projects would want.

If we abandon the vault we also have to make the choices as to whether
to abandon the current sandbox also. The reasons we've had two different
systems until now is that the sandbox provides the revision control that
some prospective projects want (when they don't want to use some other
project hosting). This aspect doesn't seem to me as important anymore as
there are varied project hosting services available. Which wasn't the
case when the sandbox started. So to me it seems to make sense to also
abandon the sandbox in favor of a combined solution.


This also brings up the question of what to do about the state of the
hosting provided by IU-OSL. As we've seen there have been various
scalability issues that have resulted in limiting the functionality we
wanted from the tools at hand. I'm not talking about the simple things
like the removal of the trac svn code browsers but also:

* The removal of on-demand expanding ZIP archives for Boost releases.
Which made the updating of docs on releases much easier than dealing
with the expanded set. But of course it also made the process for
getting those docs harder.

* The hard limit of svn/webserver request times. Which makes many
operations fail (like a full clean checkout/update -- or even a larger
than usual svn update).

* Because of the ban on ZIPs, the additional requirements on testers to
do svn checkouts.

* The limits on some svn clients that do "frequent" server status
checks. The limit being that they get banned from connecting to the
Boost svn. AFAICT this means that the Ohloh service is no longer able to
monitor the Boost code base (

There are likely others, but those are the ones I'm aware of at the
moment. Even though I appreciate the hard work it takes to host
something like Boost. It seems that we can be better served through some
other hosting. I recently found another university providing the same
kind of hosting services we currently get. But in this case hosting is
what they do, as opposed to something they happen do on the side. They
are the Oregon State University Open Source Lab <>.
And they host a rather distinguished list of OSS projects
<> like: Apache, Debian,
Drupal, Eclipse, Fedora, RPM, Slackware, and more. To me it's looking
more and more that our requirements for hosting are increasing rather
than stabilizing. And hence it makes sense to move to a provider than
can scale, instead of sticking with one that needs to cut back.

Hopefully I haven't opened too many "cans-of-worms" with this. But it
seems relevant to discuss this now, before doing too many other changes
in related services and tools (i.e. ryppl, cmake, git, etc.).

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