[Mongrel] Gem versioning and auto installs

James Moore banshee at banshee.com
Sun Jun 4 13:24:34 EDT 2006

> Full specification gets  remarkably unmanageable when you decide to change
> something. 

I suspect you're going to change your mind fairly soon.

Virtually everywhere I've been has a system for stamping out production
servers that look precisely the way you want them to.  Letting production
machines figure out what they're supposed to install on their own is going
to come back and sink its rabid little teeth into your ankles at some point
in the very near future.  Every time a problem comes up you're going to need
to convince yourself that it's not an environment issue on that specific

I'm not a system administrator, but I've worked with teams of really good
sysadmins at some reasonably large sites (tens of millions of user
accounts).  Any time I have a sysadmin-type problem, I imagine myself in a
meeting with them, explaining what the deployment process for my software
looks like.  They'd be asking things like:

Q - So, when a problem comes up, how do we know it's not because machine X
is ever-so-slightly different than machine Y? 
A - Uh, mmm, er...

Q - You really expect us to pull live updates from the net, without checking
them first?  With customer data?
A - Err, ah...

Q - And what happens when we get a media mention of our product and we have
to install three new servers _right now_ and the network resource we're
supposed to pull these dependencies from is down?  (Yes, this happens.)  Or
we've just scheduled a block of time for system updates?  You've just
trashed our schedule, right? 
A - Gah, mmm...

Q - And what do we do when one of these so-called "dependencies" breaks
something that we thought was unrelated?
A - <dead air>

I hate those meetings :-). 

 - James Moore 

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