Smolt is a project for gathering hardware information from users. It consists of a client side package installed on users computers and a server side that the client reports to. For Fedora installs the user is asked at 'firstboot' time if they wish to send their information to the server, if they accept information is sent then, and approximately every month thereafter. This information is stored in a database and scripts are run to generate general statistics over the dataset. In addition a wiki is run on the server side allowing users to provide feedback on specific hardware items.
- Smolt is largely unmaintained upstream. ( The last upstream commit was more than 10 months ago)
- Smolt's reporting scripts do not function under RHEL6.
- When smolt's cron job runs to summarize data in the db, the web server becomes unresponsive, leading to daily downtime. Switching db backends might fix this but with no upstream, there's no one to do the work.
- As updates to the libraries that smolt is built on occur we've had to work up patches to the code base. This becomes harder as the team's experience adapts to new technologies but smolt's code remains where it was.
- The information smolt gathers is somewhat limited.
- The data that smolt has does not satisfy the purpose it was originally written for. As adamw put it, as long as it's an opt-in, we can't use the data to generalize about our installed base.
- Smolt's design has some limitations that require basic architectural changes to address. The census project aims to create such a rewrite.
- admins have to spend time cleaning up the smolt wiki (since, by nature, it allows anonymous edits).
- Smolt's wiki means we end up maintaining two mediawiki instances for no real benefit except to keep smolts.org separate from fedoraproject.org
For all these reasons, Fedora Infrastructure will be retiring smolt
2012-09-11 - Start gathering requirements and decide timelines
This is a list of things we need to do before smolt can be retired:
- firstboot should no longer call or use smolt.
- smolt should no longer be shipped on install or live media
- We need to determine what kind of server/instance we should keep live for a few years for historical installs that still try and report to smolt.
- Push an update to the smolt client that disables the cron job on client machines?
- The existing smolt database should be made available for folks to datamine/reuse?
- Should announce a date when the retirement will take place.
- Redirect smolt reporting somehow to census?
- setup smolts.org and related pages to note the retirement and point users to census.
- Warn other distro's that have packages for the client or even install it by default.
Possible interested parties
A replacement for smolt is being developed. See: https://fedorahosted.org/census/