ZeroConf support for Bazaar

When at conferences and sprints, I often want to see what someone else is working on, or to let other people see what I am working on. Usually we end up pushing up to a shared server and using that as a way to exchange branches. However, this can be quite frustrating when competing for outside bandwidth when at a conference.

It is possible to share the branch from a local web server, but that still means you need to work out the addressing issues.

To make things easier, I wrote a simple Bazaar/Avahi plugin. It provides a command “bzr share“, which does the following:

  • Scan the directory for any Bazaar branches it contains.
  • Start up the Bazaar server to listen on a TCP port and share the given directory.
  • Advertise each of the branches via mDNS using Avahi. They are shared using the branch nickname.

For the client side, the plugin implements a “bzr browse” command that will list the Bazaar branches being advertised on the local network (the name and the bzr:// URL). Using the two commands together, it is trivial to share branches locally or find what branches people are sharing.

I am not completely satisfied with how things work, and have a few ideas for how to improve things:

  1. Provide a dummy transport that lets people pull from branches by their advertised service name. This would essentially just redirect from scheme://$SERVICE/ to bzr://$HOST:$PORT/$PATH.
  2. Maybe provide more control over the names the branches get advertised with. Perhaps this isn’t so important though.
  3. Make “bzr share” start and stop advertising branches as they get added/removed, and handle branch nicknames changing (at this point, it is pretty much blue sky though).
  4. Perhaps some form of access control. I’m not sure how easy this is within the smart server protocol, but it should be possible to query the user over whether to accept a connection or not.

It will be interesting to see how well this works at the next sprint or conference.

6 Comments

  1. Christopher
    Posted 26 March, 2007 at 4:42 am | Permalink

    Excellent idea!

  2. glatzor
    Posted 26 March, 2007 at 7:51 am | Permalink

    I already love your plugin!

  3. Michael Scherer
    Posted 26 March, 2007 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

    This seems like svl, a svk layer providing the same feature for svk. You should take a look to see if there is some interesting concept to implement. Too bad that svl developpement is stalled.

  4. Michael Scherer
    Posted 26 March, 2007 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    Oups, forgot the url to svl : http://search.cpan.org/~abergman/SVL-0.29/

  5. Posted 26 March, 2007 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Michael: I think a lot of the SVL features are already part of the Bazaar core. My code basically just instantiates the existing Bazaar server implementation and does the mDNS advertisement.

    That said, there is definitely room for improvement on the client side for bzr-avahi. I have a few ideas about how to improve things mentioned in the main article.

    One of the new features of Bazaar is the concept of a unique tree root ID. All related branches share the same tree root ID. If this is included in the advertised data, it would allow the plugin to show only the branches that could be merged to a particular target.

  6. Posted 26 March, 2007 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    just great – thanks :)