Software Management Plugin API

Thin-edge uses plugins to delegate to the appropriate package managers and installers all the software management operations: installation of packages, uninstallations and queries.

  • A package manager plugin acts as a facade for a specific package manager.
  • A plugin is an executable that follows the plugin API.
  • On a device, several plugins can be installed to deal with different kinds of software modules.
  • The filename of a plugin is used by thin-edge to determine the appropriate plugin for a software module.
  • All the actions on a software module are directed to the plugin bearing the name that matches the module type name.
  • The plugins are loaded and invoked by the sm-agent in a systematic order (in practice the alphanumerical order of their names in the file system).
  • The software modules to be installed/removed are also passed to the plugins in a consistent order.
  • Among all the plugins, one can be marked as the default plugin using tedge config cli.
  • The default plugin is invoked when an incoming software module in the cloud request doesn't contain any explicit type annotation.
  • Several plugins can co-exist for a given package manager as long as they are given different names. Each can implement a specific software management policy. For instance, for a debian package manager, several plugins can concurrently be installed, say one named apt to handle regular packages from the public apt repository and another named company-apt to install packages from a company's private package repository.

Plugin repository

  • To be used by thin-edge, a plugin has to stored in the directory /etc/tedge/sm-plugins.
  • A plugin must be named after the software module type as specified in the cloud request. That is, a plugin named apt handles software modules that are defined with type apt in the cloud request. Consequently a plugin to handle software module defined for docker must be named docker.
  • The same plugin can be given different names, using virtual links.
  • When there are multiple plugins on a device, one can be marked as the default plugin using the command tedge config set software.plugin.default <plugin-name>
  • If there's one and only one plugin available on a device, that's treated as the default, even without an explicit configuration.

On start-up and sighup, the sm-agent registers the plugins as follow:

  1. Iterate over the executable file of the directory /etc/tedge/sm-plugins.
  2. Check the executable is indeed a plugin, calling the list command.

Plugin API

  • A plugin must implement all the commands used by the sm-agent of thin-edge, and support all the options for these commands.
  • A plugin should not support extra command or option.
  • A plugin might have a configuration file.
    • It can be a list of remote repositories, or a list of software modules to be excluded.
    • These configuration files can be managed from the cloud via the sm-agent (TODO: how).

Input, Output and Errors

  • The plugins are called by the sm-agent using a child process for each action.
  • Beside command update-list there is no input beyond the command arguments, and a plugin that does not implement update-list can close its stdin.
  • The stdout and stderr of the process running a plugin command are captured by the sm-agent.
    • These streams don't have to be the streams returned by the underlying package manager. It can be a one sentence summary of the error, redirecting the administrator to the package manager logs.
  • A plugin must return the appropriate exit status after each command.
    • In no cases, the error status of the underlying package manager should be reported.
  • The exit status are interpreted by sm-agent as follows:
    • 0: success.
    • 1: usage. The command arguments cannot be interpreted, and the command has not been launched.
    • 2: failure. The command failed and there is no point to retry.
    • 3: retry. The command failed but might be successful later (for instance, when the network will be back).
  • If the command fails to return within 5 minutes, the sm-agent reports a timeout error:
    • 4: timeout.

The list command

When called with the list command, a plugin returns the list of software modules that have been installed with this plugin, using tab separated values.

$ debian-plugin list
...
collectd-core  5.8.1-1.3
mosquitto   1.5.7-1+deb10u1
...

Contract:

  • This command take no arguments.
  • If an error status is returned, the executable is removed from the list of plugins.
  • The list is returned using CSV with tabulations as separators. Each line has two values separated by a tab: the name of the module then the version of that module. If there is no version for a module, then the trailing tabulation is not required and be skipped.

The prepare command

The prepare command is invoked by the sm-agent before a sequence of install and remove commands

$ /etc/tedge/sm-plugins/debian prepare
$ /etc/tedge/sm-plugins/debian install x
$ /etc/tedge/sm-plugins/debian install y
$ /etc/tedge/sm-plugins/debian remove z
$ /etc/tedge/sm-plugins/debian finalize

For many plugins this command will do nothing. However, It gives an opportunity to the plugin to:

  • Update the dependencies before an operation, *i.e. a sequence of actions. Notably, a debian plugin can update the apt cache issuing an apt-get update.
  • Start a transaction, in case the plugin is able to manage rollbacks.

Contract:

  • This command take no arguments.
  • No output is expected.
  • If the prepare command fails, then the planned sequences of actions (.i.e the whole sm operation) is cancelled.

The finalize command

The finalize command closes a sequence of install and remove commands started by a prepare command.

This can be a no-op, but this is also an opportunity to:

  • Remove any unnecessary software module after a sequence of actions.
  • Commit or rollback the sequence of actions.
  • Restart any processes using the modules, e.g. restart the analytics engines if the modules have changed

Contract:

  • This command take no arguments.
  • No output is expected.
  • This command might check (but doesn't have to) that the list of install and remove command has been consistent.
    • For instance, a plugin might raise an error after the sequence prepare;install a; remove a-dependency; finalize.
  • If the finalize command fails, then the planned sequences of actions (.i.e the whole sm operation) is reported as failed, even if all the atomic actions has been successfully completed.

The install command

The install command installs a software module, possibly of some expected version.

$ plugin install NAME [--module-version VERSION] [--file FILE]

Contract:

  • The command requires a single mandatory argument: the software module name.
    • This module name is meaningful only to the plugin.
  • An optional version string can be provided.
    • This version string is meaningful only to the plugin and is transmitted unchanged from the cloud to the plugin.
    • The version string can include constraints (as at least that version), from the sm-agent viewpoint this is no more than a string.
    • If no version is provided the plugin is free to install the more appropriate version.
  • An optional file path can be provided.
    • When the device administrator provides an url, the sm-agent downloads the software module on the device, then invoke the install command with a path to that file.
    • If no file is provided, the plugin has to derive the appropriate location from its repository and to download the software module accordingly.
  • The command installs the requested software module and any dependencies that might be required.
    • It is up to the plugin to define if this command triggers an installation or an upgrade. It depends on the presence of a previous version on the device and of the ability of the package manager to deal with concurrent versions for a module.
    • A plugin might not be able to install dependencies. In that case, the device administrator will have to request explicitly the dependencies to be installed first.
    • After a successful sequence prepare; install foo; finalize the module foo must be reported by the list command.
    • After a successful sequence prepare; install foo --module-version v; finalize the module foo must be reported by the list command with the version v. If the plugin manage concurrent versions, the module foo might also be reported with versions already installed before the operation.
    • A plugin is not required to detect inconsistent actions as prepare; install a; remove a-dependency; finalize.
    • This is not an error to run this command twice or when the module is already installed.
  • An error must be reported if:
    • The module name is unknown.
    • There is no version for the module that matches the constraint provided by the --version option.
    • The file content provided by --file option:
      • is not in the expected format,
      • doesn't correspond to the software module name,
      • has a version that doesn't match the constraint provided by the --module-version option (if any).
    • The module cannot be downloaded.
    • The module cannot be installed.

The remove command

The remove command uninstalls a software module, and possibly its dependencies if no other modules are dependent on those.

$ plugin remove NAME [--module-version VERSION]

Contract:

  • The command requires a single mandatory argument: the module name.
    • This module name is meaningful only to the plugin and is transmitted unchanged from the cloud to the plugin.
  • An optional version string can be provided.
    • This version string is meaningful only to the plugin and is transmitted unchanged from the cloud to the plugin.
  • The command uninstall the requested module and possibly any dependencies that are no more required.
    • If a version is provided, only the module of that version is removed. This is in-practice useful only for a package manager that is able to install concurrent versions of a module.
    • After a successful sequence prepare; remove foo; finalize the module foo must no more be reported by the list command.
    • After a successful sequence prepare; remove foo --module-version v; finalize the module foo no more be reported by the list command with the version v. If the plugin manage concurrent versions, the module foo might still be reported with versions already installed before the operation.
    • A plugin is not required to detect inconsistent actions as prepare; remove a; install a-reverse-dependency; finalize.
    • This is not an error to run this command twice or when the module is not installed.
  • An error must be reported if:
    • The module name is unknown.
    • The module cannot be uninstalled.

The update-list command

The update-list command accepts a list of software modules and associated operations as install or remove.

This basically achieves same purpose as original commands install and remove, but gets passed all software modules to be processed in one command. This can be needed when order of processing software modules is relevant - e.g. when dependencies between packages inside the software list do occur.

# building list of software modules and operations, 
# and passing to plugin's stdin via pipe:
# NOTE that each argument is tab separated:

$ echo '\
  install	name1	version1
  install	name2		path2
  remove	name3	version3
  remove	name4'\
 | plugin update-list

Contract:

  • This command is optional for a plugin. It can be implemented alternatively to original commands install and remove as both are specified above.
    • If a plugin does not implement this command it must return exit status 1. In that case sm-agent will call the plugin again package-by-package using original commands install and remove.
    • If a plugin implements this command sm-agent uses it instead of original commands install and remove.
  • This command takes no commandline arguments, but expects a software list sent from sm-agent to plugin's stdin.
  • In the software list each software module is represented by exactly one line, using tab separated values.
  • The position of each argument in the argument list has it's defined meaning:
    • 1st argument: Is the operation and can be install or remove
    • 2nd argument: Is the software module's name.
    • 3rd argument: Is the software module's version. That argument is optional and can be empty (then empty string "" is used).
    • 4th argument: Is the software module's path. That argument is optional and can be empty (then empty string "" is used). For operation remove that argument does not exist.
  • Behaviour of operations install and remove is same as for original commands install and remove as specified above.
    • For details about operations' arguments "name", "version" and "path", see specification of original command install or remove.
    • For details about exitstatus see accoring specification of original command install or remove.
  • An overall error must be reported (via process's exit status) when at least one software module operation has failed.

Example how to invoke that plugin command update-list. Note that each argument is tab separated:

$ plugin update-list <<EOF
  install	name1	version1
  install	name2		path2
  remove	name3	version3
  remove	name4
EOF

That is equivalent to use of original commands (install and remove):

$ plugin install name1 --module-version version1
$ plugin install name2 --module-path path2
$ plugin remove "name 3" --module-version version3
$ plugin remove name4

Exemplary implementation of a shell script for parsing software list from stdin:

Note that this example works only in bash.

#!/bin/bash

echo ""
echo "---+++ reading software list +++---"
while IFS=$'\t' read -r ACTION MODULE VERSION FILE
do
    echo "$0 $ACTION $MODULE $VERSION"
done