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Backports are enabled in new Trusty instances
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Previously, the backports repository was not enabled in Labs instances by default. I therefore wrote a patch ( to enable it for Toolforge instances, but when I tested it I found that new Ubuntu Trusty instances have the repository enabled in /etc/apt/sources.list:

## Uncomment the following two lines to add software from the 'backports'
## repository.
## N.B. software from this repository may not have been tested as
## extensively as that contained in the main release, although it includes
## newer versions of some applications which may provide useful features.
## Also, please note that software in backports WILL NOT receive any review
## or updates from the Ubuntu security team.
deb trusty-backports main restricted universe multiverse
deb-src trusty-backports main restricted universe multiverse

That's useful, because it removes the necessity for my patch :-), on the other hand it appears to be random because this configuration does not seem to be set in the labs_vmbuilder module (or elsewhere). The top of /etc/apt/sources.list reads:

## Note, this file is written by cloud-init on first boot of an instance
## modifications made here will not survive a re-bundle.
## if you wish to make changes you can:
## a.) add 'apt_preserve_sources_list: true' to /etc/cloud/cloud.cfg
##     or do the same in user-data
## b.) add sources in /etc/apt/sources.list.d
## c.) make changes to template file /etc/cloud/templates/sources.list.tmpl

but I don't see anything pertinent in modules/labs_vmbuilder/files/cloud.cfg et al.


  1. Should the backports be enabled in default Labs (have not tested: Precise/)Trusty instances? (For Jessie instances, this is done in modules/apt/manifests/init.pp.)
  2. Depending on 1., that policy should be coded somewhere so that new images reliably conform to it.

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scfc assigned this task to Andrew.
scfc raised the priority of this task from to Needs Triage.
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scfc added projects: Cloud-VPS, Toolforge.
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I agree that the ways of cloud-init are mysterious. I dug in the source a bit but don't see where the default behavior is described... The current default behavior is fine though, right?

The current behaviour is fine with me, but it is a change compared to the previous behaviour and thus has the potential to surprise people.

I looked where the change came from, and it was in:

cloud-init (0.7.5-0ubuntu1.13) trusty; urgency=medium

 * d/patches/lp-1177432-enable_backports.patch: Enable backports apt pocket
   (LP: #1177432).

-- Ben Howard <>  Mon, 02 Nov 2015 08:52:09 -0700

The rationale in is that Ubuntu bare-metal servers have backports also enabled by default. My working knowledge was that at least WMF Ubuntu bare-metal servers had backports disabled.

So if backports should now be enabled in Labs images, Ubuntu will now do so reliably, solving item #2, if the answer to #1 is "yes".

Andrew added subscribers: MoritzMuehlenhoff, csteipp.

@MoritzMuehlenhoff, @csteipp, what is the policy on the backports repo for production servers?

Labs team agrees that having this turned on is just fine. Moritz, pleaes re-open if this worries you.

My only concern would be if were backporting security fixes there that were private (like we've done in the past with hhvm patches)