Testing Debathena

Members of the MIT Community can play a vital role in helping to test new features and new releases of Debathena before they're available in the public clusters. Debathena testers also have the opportunity to offer feedback on new features while they're still in development, and can help shape the future of Debathena.

On this page:

The Debathena development process

There are two levels of testing: alpha and beta.

alpha machines get package updates from both the proposed and development APT repositories, in addition to the production repository. Alpha machines are the first to receive updates, but those updates have not undergone significant field testing. Alpha machines should never be used as production servers or mission-critical infrastructure. You might be a good candidate to have an alpha machine if any of the following are true:

beta machines get package updates from the proposed APT repository in addition to the production repository. Beta machines receieve updates generally 3 business days before those updates are deployed to the public workstations. By the time updates are pushed to beta workstations, they have received some field testing, but there may still be bugs. In general, people involved with supporting or maintaing Debathena workstations should have at least one beta machine that they use regularly. Beta machines should never be used as production servers or mission-critical infrastructure.

The following timeline may be of help in understanding the testing workflow:

Note: Alpha and beta workstations using the debathena-cluster metapackage will automatically upgrade to a newer version of Ubuntu at certain times. As with any debathena-cluster machine, the local disk should never be used for data storage, as the upgrade process will completely erase and reformat the disk. If any alpha or beta debathena-cluster workstations are deployed in public areas, they should be clearly marked as such. We have prepared sample signage here (PDF), or you may use your own.

Early releases

In addition to alpha and beta, there is a class of machines called early. Currently, only debathena-cluster machines are eligible for early testing. Early machines will take a new supported Ubuntu release 2-4 weeks before it is deployed to the public clusters. This allows us to further test the upgrade process and also solicit feedback from users of the new release. Early machines are deployed in several Athena clusters, and are therefore suitable for public and general use machines. As with all testing releases however, they should never be used for production servers or mission-critical infrastructure.

Becoming a tester

You can elect to have machines under your control opt-in to the alpha or beta testing programs at any time, without re-installation. Similarly, you can also opt-out of the testing program at any time. Note: A static IP address with a valid record in Moira is required for testing. If you do not have one, you may request one here.

  1. Make sure that the contact information for your host record in Moira is up to date. You can view the current contact information using hosts.mit.edu. Make sure the "Contact" field contains a valid MIT e-mail address. If multiple users maintain the workstation, you can request a mailing list and use that as the contact address.
  2. If your workstation is behind a firewall, please make sure that the firewall passes connections inbound on TCP port 49155 (athinfo).
  3. Add yourself to the testers@mit.edu mailing list. You can use WebMoira (Touchstone authentication required), or you can use the following Athena command: blanche testers -a $USER. The testers mailing list is used by testers and developers for discussing/reporting problems encountered during testing.
  4. Send e-mail to hesreq@mit.edu and ask that your machine be added to either the alpha-linux or beta-linux cluster, depending on whether you want to be an alpha or beta tester, respectively. (If you have a cluster machine, you may also request the early-linux cluster). Be sure to include your hostname in the e-mail.

If at any point you want to stop being a tester, you can ask hesreq@mit.edu to remove your machine from the alpha-linux or beta-linux cluster. Be sure to do this if you later decide to re-purpose the IP address or workstation (e.g., you install Windows on it).