let me weigh in with a few initial comments, and I'll ask the Labs
folks to participate here and on Meta as well with regard to technical
The initial focus for Labs has been to provide functionality that
toolserver doesn't - get root on a VM or set of VMs to install/test
arbitrary software/services, and get it ready for production
deployment. Labs doesn't have DB replication yet, and it doesn't yet
have an environment optimized for the development of small tools that
are not geared towards deployment in production. There are some
communities within Labs, most notably bots.wmflabs.org
, that have
started to optimize their environment for certain categories of tools
(in this case bots).
The second phase of Wikimedia Labs is called "Tool Labs" and its
explicit goal is to be an alternative to the toolserver. This is
In other words, it's not suprising that Labs cannot yet function as an
effective toolserver alternative for most purposes, because we've not
started work on the required functionality yet. Our timeline is to do
so beginning in Q1 of the next calendar year. With regard to DB
replication in particular, we're investigating whether we can
accelerate the schedule since it's so highly requested.
It is definitely the goal of ''Tool Labs'' to support the kind of
small-scale, non-deployed tools that toolserver authors love to
Petr Bena, a Labs user, has created this page, which would definitely
benefit from more participation as well:
It is true that we (WMF) have generally asked chapters to reduce
investment in core infrastructure/services, and specifically asked
WM-DE to work with us in transitioning from toolserver to Labs. There
are a number of reasons for this:
1) WMF is a technology organization. Hosting the core infrastructure
for Wikimedia projects is very much what we do. This includes data
center operation, monitoring and backups, software deployments,
software/service upgrades, code versioning infrastructure, bug
tracking infrastructure, additional support systems and services (like
this mailing list), etc.
Toolserver is in fact hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation today, in our
Amsterdam data-center. We provide space, power and racks for the
toolserver cluster, at a cost of about $65,000/year to WMF according
to our Director of TechOps. We also maintain the database replication
on our end which enables tools to function.
We can't provide the same level of service for the toolserver
infrastructure as we do for core operations, and it makes no sense for
a chapter to build out the required staffing and expertise to do so
(set up/maintain all or some of the aforementioned functions). Even
with slightly increased investment, toolserver would always suffer
from being second or third tier infrastructure.
2) We're not comfortable hosting the toolserver infrastructure as-is.
There are too many idiosyncratic aspects of its configuration; it has
its own wiki, its own (closed source) version control system, its own
(closed source) issue tracker. There are hacks like TUSC that we want
to replace with better systems/services (e.g. OpenID/OAuth).
So, what's next?
Chapters are autonomous organizations, and it's WM-DE's call how much
/ whether it wants to continue to invest in infrastructure of any kind
(and the decision of funding bodies like the FDC to accept or reject
that proposition). However, for our part, we will not continue to
support the current arrangement (DB replication, hosting in our
data-center, etc.) indefinitely.
The timeline we've discussed with Wikimedia Germany is roughly as follows:
- Wind down new account creation on toolserver by Q2 of 2013 calendar year
- Decommission toolserver by December 2013
WMF can't commit to providing technical support for tool transition
(there are too many tools), so if there's any area where I think it
would make sense to ramp up investments on WM-DE's part, it's in
engineering capacity to support tool developers in porting tools to
That said, there may be a need for emergency purchases/investments to
keep TS in a usable state until December 2013 (and perhaps allow for
some buffer room beyond that). That's not our call to make.
Hope this clears up some questions around what's going on, and happy
to answer further questions.
VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation
Support Free Knowledge: https://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate