I will not install your language tools

I have a principle now: no installing languages or tools or any project-specific stuff on my laptop. Only Docker. Every project can happily have its own version of Ruby or Python and their dependency managers. When my laptop gets lost again, I won’t spend (as many) weeks being surprised by what I need to install again.

Here is my tiniest intro to using Docker for this purpose. Not for production, but for my purposes. And for making projects work-on-able by other people on every operating system.

Find it on RubyTapas:

Fun with Docker: “Release file… is not valid yet”

Today my Docker build failed on Windows because apt-get update failed because some release files were not valid yet. It said they’d be valid in about 3.5 hours. WAT.

I don’t care about your release files! Do not exit with code 100! This is not what I want to think about right now!

Spoiler: restarting my computer fixed it. 😤

This turned out to be a problem with the system time. The Ubuntu docker containers thought it was 19:30 UTC, which is like 8 hours ago. Probably five hours ago, someone updated the release files wherever apt-get calls home to. My Docker container considered that time THE FUTURE. The scary future.

Windows had the time right, 21:30 CST (which is 6 hours earlier than UTC). Ubuntu in WSL was closer; it thought it was 19:30 CST. But Docker containers were way off. This included Docker on Windows and Docker on Ubuntu.

Entertainingly, the Docker build worked on Ubuntu in WSL. I’m pretty sure that’s because I ran this same build there long ago, and Docker had the layers cached. Each line in the Dockerfile results in a layer, so Docker starts the build operation at the first line that has changed. So it didn’t even run the apt-get update.

This is one of the ways that Docker builds are not reproducible. apt-get calls out to the world, so it doesn’t do the same thing every time. When files were updated matters, and (now I know) what time your computer thinks it is matters.

Something on the internet suggested restarting the VM that Docker uses. It seems likely that Docker on WSL and Docker on Windows (in linux-container mode) are using the same VM under the hood somewhere. I don’t know how to restart that explicitly, so I restarted the computer. Now all the clocks are right (Windows, Ubuntu in WSL, and Ubuntu containers from both Docker daemons). Now the build works fine.

I’m not currently worried about running containers in production. (I just want to develop this website without installing python’s package manager locally. This is our world.) Still working in Docker challenges me to understand more about operating systems, their package managers, networking, system clocks, etc.

Docker: it puts the Ops in DevOps. That’s my day.

Advancing the bridge

Software Development has moved forward a lot recently. Both on the code side and the runtime side, we’ve had huge advances.

we’ve seen more advances in writing code and in running it, than in the bridge from written to running

We have way better languages and frameworks for writing applications now. For instance, JavaScript, JQuery, and modern frameworks like React were all big steps. Or you could look at Java, Spring, and now Spring Boot. For source control: cvs, git, and now GitHub changed the way we work.

Then on the runtime side, we don’t have to deploy to hardware anymore. Virtual machines were a step, and then the cloud, and now Kubernetes is a big deal. Kubernetes is a big deal because it’s higher level of abstraction, where developers can work in the language of the domain of software. But that’s not all: Kubernetes also offers an API, which means we can work with it using code.

We can do more with code now on both sides, thanks to expressive frameworks and to an API for hardware. But there’s something in the middle lagging behind.

A scary chasm: the team wants to get code across to the magical land of production. The rope bridge is beset by lightning and sea monsters.

The bridge from source code to running software is Delivery. Delivery has made advances: we went from Bash and make to pipelines. But pipelines have been around for a decade, and since then we’ve got … more pipelines. It’s time for the next revolutionary step.

This is Atomist’s mission: to change the way we deliver software. Not to make it incrementally better, but to rethink delivery the way we’ve rethought application architecture and runtime infrastructure.

The way forward is not more pipelines. Nor is it event more bash scripts or configuration that wishes it were code. The way forward is not updated separately for each delivered application.

The way forward is to do more with code. In a real programming language. The way forward responds to events in the domain of software delivery: to code pushes, and also tickets, pull requests, deploys, builds, and messages in chat. It responds in context: when our delivery machine decides (in code!) what to do with a particular change, it does so with awareness of what the code says, of who changed it, in response to what ticket. It responds in communication: when in doubt, contact the responsible human and ask them whether they’d like to restart the build, submit the pull request, or deploy to production.

As we succeed, our systems increase in complexity. The systems to control them need to be at least as smart. We need more power in our delivery than any GUI screen or YAML file can give us. We have that power, when we craft our delivery in code on a strong framework with a domain-specific API.

Atomist as the next sea change in delivery: event hub, API for software, delivery in code.

Every company is in the software delivery business now. Let’s take it seriously, the same way we do our code and our production runtime.

Get started today with the open-source Software Delivery Machine.