September, October, and November 2015 Community Recap

Jeez. This has been overdue! So a lot of things happened, and this Community Recap series kind of got put on the back burner, which obviously means a lot of things have piled up, so if I forgot something you thought should have been mentioned, please share it in the comments below.:) I will be doing a few months at a time until I’ve caught up to the now().

With that said, let’s proceed!
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Desperate times…

… call for desperate measures. After a month of trying to get power to our new office, I’ve given up. I busted out the solar panel, a small battery and a charge controller:solar

We now have a solar powered net connection in the office. All is good as long as we come in with charged laptops.:)

Schema change release: What happened?

Now that we’ve finally finished the schema change release, I wanted to give an account of what happened in this arduous process. Before I dive into the details, I want to offer a picture that best sums up our current situation and challenges:

personal-container-mngmnt3

The shipping container is MusicBrainz and the boat is our hosting infrastructure. This picture perfectly describes the sort of challenges we’ve faced over the past few days.:)

Here is what happened:

Because the site was recently running slow and our search servers kept crashing, Zas and I were not available to help Bitmap prepare for the schema change release. This long process was left to Bitmap and Gentlecat to take care of on their own. We quickly realized that we were not ready for the release when the due date came and thus we delayed one week.

Sunday 22 May

Finally we were ready to proceed with the Postgres 9.5 upgrade. Once we started the process, we kept running into small problems that we didn’t get in our test setups. We do not have access to enough infrastructure to have a complete clone of our production environment, so we can only do so much to prepare for all the things that might happen when we run upgrades on our production servers.

All the while we attempted to start the upgrade, our backup database server was running much slower than anticipated. In the end we figured out that a step for optimizing the database (analyzing it) wasn’t carried out. During this time the site was really slow/unusable, but by the time the problem became apparent we had started the upgrade and could not turn back.

Once the upgrade was done, optimizing the database took much much longer than usual: 3 hours! This process wasn’t started until about 1am local time, which made for a very long night before that process finished. And even then we hit snags and had to start over a couple of times. At about 4:30am we had the site running on Postgres 9.5 in read only mode. The plan was to rest and start the schema change release in the morning.

Monday 23 May

Of course we had spent all of our time working on the Postgres upgrade and site stability, so our document that we use to plan the schema change was not in place. We spent the day preparing this and other bits for the release. To get an appreciation for what this document looks like, have a look! Note that some steps could be instant, others might take hours to carry out. Others might involve a sub-step or 20 not included in the document.

In the evening we were ready to make the change. By this point our backup DB was performing much better, so the read-only site worked acceptably. Thus, we started the release. Overall, the actual release process was reasonably smooth – we hit a few snags and had to do a lot of waiting for our slow servers. At about 1am in the morning things were finally complete. We proceeded with our sanity checks to make sure things went smoothly and all of them passed.

We proceeded to put the site into read-write mode and immediately saw portions of Postgres crashing, which is really bad. With community feedback we quickly deduced that some write operations were causing Postgres back-end processes to crash. We went back to read-only mode on the site and things stabilized and we finally went to bed at 3am.

Tuesday 24 May

In the morning we quickly found the source of database trouble with the help from the Postgres people on IRC. Thanks for the swift help Johto! We found that the steps for installing the updated third party extensions into Postgres had not completed correctly. Repeating the steps by hand fixed this problem.

Sadly yesterday morning we got an email informing us that our Live Data Feed replication stream had become corrupted.😦 This was heartbreaking news to us, since it means a great inconvenience to all of our Live Data Feed users. We immediately split into two teams: Zas, chirlu and myself to fix the root cause of the issue and Bitmap to investigate fixing the stream.

I proceeded to setup a test environment was able to quickly reproduce the problem. Zas and chirlu were an amazing support team Googling issues as I came across them. Within fairly short time we fixed the problem and deployed the fix to our database server. The problem was caused by a bug in a piece of code that we’ve been using for 13 years! A change in Postgres caused this bug to actually become a problem and corrupt our replication feed.😦

Once the problems were fixed we needed to initiate a new data dump and check to make sure the replication stream is working correctly. Of course we found a problem that we fixed and re-started the process to dump the data. Loads of hurry-up-and-wait situations to try our patience!

When we were satisfied that things were working correctly we re-enabled the site as read-write at about 1am and allowed people to continue editing. Exhausted we stumbled into bed waiting for data dumps to sync out to the FTP site.

Wednesday 25 May

Today Bitmap was flying home and as soon as WiFi became available on his flight he started working and helping with putting the schema change to bed. We’ve verified that everything is working as expected. At last this saga comes to and end and we can all take a break and catch up on sleep!

Thank you for your patience through all of this.

Schema change release, 2016-05-23 (with upgrade instructions)

Starting with this release, PostgreSQL 9.5 is now our minimum supported version. In order to import any future data sets, you will need to upgrade your installation to version 9.5.

Due to unforeseen problems with the Live Data Feed (AKA replication), users with slave databases will be required to first import a fresh data dump into their new 9.5 installation. We apologize that this is the case, but even had this stream not been broken, doing a clean import is faster and easier than doing the migration. For details on what happened during this rather lengthy schema change release, stay tuned for a post mortem blog post that covers the details.

If you have a non-replicated standalone database, you can use pg_upgrade and run ./upgrade.sh directly, but for simplicity we strongly recommend importing the latest data dump. Thus, we will only provide instructions for a clean import:

  1. Make sure you have PostgreSQL 9.5 installed, and your database settings in lib/DBDefs.pm are updated to point to the 9.5 installation if you currently have an older version of postgres running. If you already have postgres 9.5 and want to replace the existing database there, you’ll need to drop it first (using dropdb or from within psql). Be careful that you’re not dropping any important data if this is a standalone database that you’ve made changes to.
  2. Take down the web server running MusicBrainz, if you’re running a web server.
  3. Turn off cron jobs if you are automatically updating the database via cron jobs.
  4. Switch to the new code with git fetch origin followed by git checkout v-2016-05-23-schema-change-v2
  5. Run cpanm --installdeps --notest . to ensure your perl-based dependencies are up to date. Note the dot at the end.
  6. Set DB_SCHEMA_SEQUENCE to 23 in lib/DBDefs.pm
  7. Download the latest data dumps. If you don’t need historical edit data, excluding the edit dump will speed up your import significantly.
  8. Initialize a new database from the data dumps downloaded in step 7. Detailed instructions for doing this are located in INSTALL.md in the musicbrainz-server repository; if your data dumps are in /tmp, the command should simply be something like ./admin/InitDb.pl --createdb --import /tmp/mbdump*.tar.bz2.
  9. After the import has finished, turn cron jobs back on, if applicable.
  10. Restart the MusicBrainz web server, as well as memcached, if applicable.

We would like to thank bitmap, Gentlecat, zas, chirlu, reosarevok, gcilou for contributing directly to the release and we’d also like to thank all of the people who helped test, debug or otherwise offer support in this quite difficult release. Thank you!

And finally, here’s the list of changes you can expect in the upgrade:

Bug

  • [MBS-6406] – Admins can’t change email addresses
  • [MBS-8288] – Missing indexes for inverse lookup on *_gid_redirect tables
  • [MBS-8669] – Primary key for place table missing on old slaves
  • [MBS-8906] – Release pages ISE if CB doesn’t return JSON from its API for whatever reason
  • [MBS-8928] – If you submit the release editor without being logged in, it displays “[object Object]” as an error mesage
  • [MBS-8943] – Some pages do not respect DB_READ_ONLY setting

Improvement

  • [MBS-1873] – Fix vote tallies for edits
  • [MBS-3887] – Duplicate artist and label names not being checked against alias
  • [MBS-8287] – Log deleted entities that were in a subscribed collection
  • [MBS-8433] – Work attributes don’t have a uuid
  • [MBS-8716] – Store the edit data in a JSONB column
  • [MBS-8717] – Move the edit data to a separate table
  • [MBS-8838] – Add gids to all *_type* tables
  • [MBS-8873] – Convert and unify artist credit editors to React
  • [MBS-8909] – Add logos to IMDb and VGMdb links in the sidebar
  • [MBS-8939] – Update the Instagram logo used in the sidebar
  • [MBS-8940] – Let banner message editors dismiss the banner only temporarily

Task

  • [MBS-8656] – Bring edit table indexes back into sync
  • [MBS-8719] – Stop materializing of edit and vote counts
  • [MBS-8720] – Add a materialized view of edit note recipients
  • [MBS-8727] – Prevent duplicate votes
  • [MBS-8800] – Create the earthdistance extension and add a geodetic index for place coordinates
  • [MBS-8804] – Add BRIN indexes for timestamp columns
  • [MBS-8897] – add new entity icons
  • [MBS-8938] – Schema changes to support alternative tracklists

Schema change update

We’ve finally completed the schema update and things are returning to normal. We need to get a new data dump out and then we will provide upgrade instructions tomorrow. As you might be able to guess, unless you are already on Postgres 9.5, we are going to recommend a clean data import, rather than a migration, if you have a replicated slave.

And, if anyone even dare ask (within the next week) when an updated VM will be released, you owe the whole development team each 2 bars of high quality chocolate.

Feeling lucky, punk?

P.S. Can you tell we’ve been up too long?:)

Server capacity update

Zas and I have been working hard to improve the capacity and stability of the site. In the last week, we’ve identified and fixed at least 3 problems with the search servers and we’ve added a timeout function that times out queries that take longer than 3 seconds. We think that the main cause of trouble was that queries were piling up after a slow query ran too long and that the servers never recovered from that and consequently crashed.

We won’t go as far as saying that the search servers are fixed — every time we have a smidgen of hope that things are improving, they crash again. Seemingly out of spite! So, the search servers are better.😉

Zas has also made a number of changes to the gateways and how we rate limit our incoming traffic. The rate limiting is now being done in a smarter way that reduces the overall traffic on our web servers. Well done!

We’ve also increased our bandwidth budget by 4mbits per second, which makes the site feel considerably more responsive.

Let me put these improvement into numbers: About a week ago were were struggling to keep up 250 requests per second and the site felt very sluggish. Now we can handle 500 requests a second and the site feels considerably faster. For large chunks of the day we are managing to handle all the traffic we should handle. And, the search servers haven’t crashed in 4 days!

We hope that this will give us a solid base from which to release the scheme upgrade tomorrow. Then once that is complete, we will start work on moving to the new hosting company.

Thanks for being patient with us!

We’re actually really going to take the HTTPS plunge!

Closing in on three years after stating that “We’re going to take the HTTPS plunge!”, we’re actually really going to do it now.:)

Most of our sites have forced HTTPS for some time (metabrainz.org, critiquebrainz.org, bookbrainz.org, listenbrainz.org), but there are still a couple of stragglers, notably musicbrainz.org and acousticbrainz.org.

For MusicBrainz, our beta site is now all HTTPS, web service and all. The main, non-beta musicbrainz.org will be going HTTPS-only except for what’s under /ws/ (ie., the web service) to allow taggers and other programs not currently using HTTPS some transition time. We do not currently have an ETA for when we will make the final jump to HTTPS-only on the MusicBrainz web service, as that partly depends on feedback from our web service users, which leads me to:

If you’re currently using the MusicBrainz web service, please try and switch your program to using beta.musicbrainz.org and see whether your program breaks or not and let us know the status of it. We are aware that some Python versions and MusicBrainz libraries do not support our setup, so while your program may fail now, it might simply be because of dependencies of your program not being updated yet and you might not need to do anything specifically on your end – however, some programs/libraries might need some updates, so the more people test and report back, the better we’ll be able to judge when we can go all-HTTPS-only on musicbrainz.org.

For AcousticBrainz, we now have a shiny new Let’s Encrypt certificate on https://acousticbrainz.org thanks to our systems administrator Zas! As a result, we are going to start redirecting all HTTP traffic to HTTPS on the AcousticBrainz website, including API queries.

In order to give everyone time to verify that their scripts correctly recognise and validate our Let’s Encrypt certificate, we are going to delay the redirect until July 1, 2016. On this date, any HTTP query will automatically be redirected to HTTPS. We will also enable HSTS, so that compliant browsers will redirect to HTTPS on the client-side.

If you have any questions about either the MusicBrainz or the AcousticBrainz transition, please ask.