Skip to main content

Let’s Mix Critical Security Patches and Major Architecture Changes and see What Happens.

Is re-architecting key functionality on an N.n.n release unusual?

“Yes, this was an unusual release, and an experiment in shipping new features quicker than our major release cycle normally allows.”

On version 3.6.n, plugins shared process space. On 3.6.n+1, plugins do not.

The experiment appears to have suffered a setback.

The problem?

“…we are seeing an increasing number of reports that some users are unable to play Farmville, because Farmville hangs the browser long enough for out timeout to trigger and kill it.”

Apparently the “crashed plugin” timer needs to be long enough that Farmville can finish loading. Ten seconds isn’t long enough.

How did they originally arrive at a 10 second timeout?

“Originally a 10s timeout made a lot of sense considering that we had no actual data to go with.”

It looks like none of the Mozilla developers or testers play Farmville, or they’d have caught the problem prior to release.

Why make major changes to a minor release? To improve the customer experience, of course:

“Mozilla is always looking for more ways to bring users valuable features and improvements as quickly as possible. Crash protection offers significant stability enhancements, and product drivers wanted to make it available to Firefox users as soon as possible.”

The net effect of this is probably minor. Enterprises that actually have to spend real money and real staff time to roll out new code to some of the hundreds of millions of desktops that use Firefox can skip this release, and we’re all using the product for free so our time doesn’t count and we can’t complain.

I’m not a fan of mixing high priority security fixes with new functionality. Any change in functionality introduces the possibility that a high priority security patch/fix can’t be implemented because it breaks existing downstream dependencies.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Cargo Cult System Administration

“imitate the superficial exterior of a process or system without having any understanding of the underlying substance” --Wikipedia During and after WWII, some native south pacific islanders erroneously associated the presence of war related technology with the delivery of highly desirable cargo. When the war ended and the cargo stopped showing up, they built crude facsimiles of runways, control towers, and airplanes in the belief that the presence of war technology caused the delivery of desirable cargo. From our point of view, it looks pretty amusing to see people build fake airplanes, runways and control towers  and wait for cargo to fall from the sky.The question is, how amusing are we?We have cargo cult science[1], cargo cult management[2], cargo cult programming[3], how about cargo cult system management?Here’s some common system administration failures that might be ‘cargo cult’:Failing to understand the difference between necessary and sufficient. A daily backup is necessary, b…

Ad-Hoc Verses Structured System Management

Structured system management is a concept that covers the fundamentals of building, securing, deploying, monitoring, logging, alerting, and documenting networks, servers and applications. Structured system management implies that you have those fundamentals in place, you execute them consistently, and you know all cases where you are inconsistent. The converse of structured system management is what I call ad hoc system management, where every system has it own plan, undocumented and inconsistent, and you don't know how inconsistent they are, because you've never looked.

In previous posts (here and here) I implied that structured system management was an integral part of improving system availability. Having inherited several platforms that had, at best, ad hoc system management, and having moved the platforms to something resembling structured system management, I've concluded that implementing basic structure around system management will be the best and fastest path to …

The Cloud – Provider Failure Modes

In The Cloud - Outsourcing Moved up the Stack[1] I compared the outsourcing that we do routinely (wide area networks) with the outsourcing of the higher layers of the application stack (processor, memory, storage). Conceptually they are similar:
In both cases you’ve entrusted your bits to someone else, you’ve shared physical and logical resources with others, you’ve disassociated physical devices (circuits or servers) from logical devices (virtual circuits, virtual severs), and in exchange for what is hopefully better, faster, cheaper service, you give up visibility, manageability and control to a provider. There are differences though. In the case of networking, your cloud provider is only entrusted with your bits for the time it takes for those bits to cross the providers network, and the loss of a few bits is not catastrophic. For providers of higher layer services, the bits are entrusted to the provider for the life of the bits, and the loss of a few bits is a major problem. The…