From 2004 to 2008, I worked on the Launchpad code hosting site for Canonical. As well as providing hosting for third party Open Source projects, the site is central to the Ubuntu project: doing everything from bug tracking to managing the package repository.
Launchpad is written in Python using the Zope 3 component framework, and backed by a PostgreSQL database. Over that time, I worked on a number of areas of the site:
The OpenID provider backing on to Launchpad’s account store. While it could be used to log in to any OpenID-supporting website, it was primarily intended to provide unified login for Canonical and Ubuntu community sites. In particular, it gave community-run sites first class integration without having to expose user credentials.
As well as the standard Simple Registration and Attribute Exchange extensions, we also implemented a custom “team membership” extension. This allowed relying party sites to ask whether the authenticating user was a member of certain groups on Launchpad. This has been used by various sites to limit access to certain members of the Ubuntu community.
This was later separated out from Launchpad into its own service (
login.ubuntu.com), and and ported to Django.
We instituted a policy of pre-merge code reviews, and I was one of the members of the code review team. To help with this, I wrote some tools to summarise the list of pending code reviews, including checking that branches could still be merged without conflict, and producing diffs for the benefit of the code reviewer.
These tools ended up inspiring the “merge proposal” feature of Launchpad’s code hosting system.
I built the original version of Launchpad’s “oops” error reporting system. Together with tools to summarise the day’s error reports, it gave visibility to pages that were causing errors, timing out, or coming close to timing out. It also gave users a simple “oops ID” to identify particular failures in bug reports about the site itself.
The error reports also included a log of the database queries performed during the request. This allowed us to track down requests that were performing more queries than necessary, or were simply executing slow queries.
Launchpad was originally written using the SQLObject object relational mapper. We made the decision to switch to an in-house developed ORM called Storm, and I handled migration of the code base. This involved substantial improvements to Storm to cover Launchpad’s use case.
I handled data imports for a number of different project bug trackers. This involved working with the external project to export their bug data, write a conversion routine to match Launchpad’s data model, and perform the import.
The largest import was Ubuntu’s old Bugzilla instance, which at the time dwarfed the set of bugs already in Launchpad.
My work on Launchpad also resulted in a few small Python libraries:
- A small Python extension wrapping the translation message catalog parser from the libgettextpo library.
- A wrapper for the GPGME library, providing access to various OpenPGP crypto operations via The GNU Privacy Guard.