The Wikimedia Cloud Services team has been working for the past year to
upgrade the entire Toolforge infrastructure to the Debian Stretch operating
system. You may recognize Toolforge from the "tools.wmflabs.org" domain. We
were required to move away from the old operating system, Ubuntu Trusty, as
the Ubuntu upstream developers set an end-of-life date of 31 March for
Trusty. After this point, we cannot use Ubuntu Trusty on our servers, as
it would not be considered secure. The deadline was thus a hard deadline.
A bit on how Toolforge works: the Wikimedia projects have a community of
volunteer software developers who work on tools that help Wikimedians in
their work. You have probably used at least one such tool. They are so
important for our productivity, but they are the best efforts of
volunteers, and do not have service level agreements or other
guarantees. And sometimes, volunteers move on to other projects (they're
volunteers after all) and so the tools basically run themselves until they
stop for some reason.
Toolforge is designed to encourage as much collaborative maintenance as
possible, including by requiring tools to be open source. We also sent
ample notifications to tool maintainers via their email addresses on file
including instructions on how to upgrade. In the final two weeks, we sent
Despite our best efforts, there were around 385 holdouts when we shut down
the Ubuntu Trusty job grid. They have not been deleted, but they are no
longer running. This includes tools that are widely used by members of the
community. It could also include tools that no one has used in years and no
one will miss. I am not sure which is which, but what I do know is that
lots of people use lots of tools on lots of wikis.
I need your help. If you see community members on village pumps, social
media, etc. asking about tools that have gone down (especially if they
involve "tools.wmflabs.org"), please forward them on to me at
jhare(a)wikimedia.org. You are free to respond yourself using information in
this email and anything else you know, of course. If it is at all possible,
I would like to build a report on how many complaints there are around
this. This will help me advocate for the community, because I think it
would be really cool if we could have fewer of these jarring transitions in
Please review the list. Some of these might have already been migrated
to the new operating system. If you recognize a tool on the list and think
people might want to hear about what happened, do feel free to proactively
notify people you think should be notified. I'm also happy to write
something for Tech News if you think that would be helpful. Unfortunately,
the Cloud Services team is not equipped to resurrect individual tools; we
cannot guarantee they will work on the new OS due to operating system
runtime differences (different versions of Python, etc).
Thank you for your help, if you are available to provide it.
My best regards,
 So why Debian Stretch and not Ubuntu Xenial? Because the Wikimedia
Foundation decided to consolidate around Debian GNU/Linux in 2014 or so,
and the Ubuntu Trusty VMs on Cloud Services were the last holdouts.
*James Hare* (he/him)
Associate Product Manager
Wikimedia Foundation <https://wikimediafoundation.org/>