Please take into account that most of the items here are proposals. I get some ideas talking with customers, some ideas are my own thoughts. There is no plan when these features will be implemented - this depends if there will be contribution to the project in terms of patches or financial contributions to develop a feature.
Thanks again to all companies that have supported my work up now and to everybody who has contributed to the project, let me bring SWUpdate to the current status !
First goal is to reach a quite big audience, making SWUpdate suitable for a large number of products. This will help to build a community around the project itself.
Support for further compressors¶
SWUpdate supports image compressed with following formats: zlib, zstd. This is a compromise between compression rate and speed to decompress the single artifact. To reduce bandwidth or for big images, a stronger compressor could help. Adding a new compressor must be careful done because it changes the core of handling an image.
More efficient delta updates¶
A whole update could be very traffic intensive. Specially in case of low-bandwidth connections, it could be interesting to introduce a way for delta binary updates. There was already several discussions on the Mailing List about this. If introducing binary delta is high desired, on the other side it is strictly required to not reduce the reliability of the update and the feature should not introduce leaks and make the system more vulnerable. It is accepted that different technologies could be added, each of them solves a specific use case for a delta update.
SWUpdate is already able to perform delta updates based on librsync library. This is currently a good compromise to reduce complexity. Anyway, this helps in case of small changes, and it is not a general solution between two generic releases. A general approach could be to integrate SWUpdate with a storage to allow one a delta upgrade from any release.
Support for OpenWRT¶
OpenWRT is used on many routers and has its own way for updating that is not power-cut safe.
Bandwidth can be saved not only via delta, but identifying which part of the SWu must be loaded and skipping the rest. For example, SWUpdate can detect the versions for artifact before downloading them and ask the servers to send just the relevant artifacts.
Support for BTRFS snapshot¶
BTRFS supports subvolume and delta backup for volumes - supporting subvolumes is a way to move the delta approach to filesystems, while SWUpdate should apply the deltas generated by BTRFS utilities.
Note: research in this direction was stopped due to License conflicts with btrfs-utils. They are now solved on btrfs-utils top of tree (libraries are now LGPLv2.1 and can be used by SWUpdate).
SWUpdate supports two parsers : libconfig and JSON. It would be nice if tools can be used to convert from one format to the other one. Currently, due to some specialties in libconfig, a manual conversion is still required.
Self contained tool to generate Update Packages (SWU)¶
Generation of SWUs is fully supported inside OE via meta-swupdate, but there is no support at all with other buildsystems (Buildroot, Debian). The user have a not preordered bunch of programs and scripts to generate the SWU, and mostly they are not generic enough. It will be interesting to create a buildswu tool, running on host system, that can create form a configuration a SWU. The tool must support all features, that means it should be able to pack artfact, generate sw-description from templates, sign the SWU, encrypt the artifact, etc.
SWUpdate has from the early stage a hardware to software compatibility check. In case software is split in several components (like OS and application), it is desirable to have a sort of software compatibility check. For example, SWUpdate verifies if a component (like an application) is compatible with a runningOS and reject the update in case of mismatch.
- API between SWUpdate and Lua is poorly documented.
- Extend Lua to load modules at startup with functions that are globally visible and can be used by own Lua scripts or by the embedded-script in sw-description.
- Store in SWUpdate’s repo Lua libraries and common functions to be reused by projects.
Users develop own custom handlers - I just enforce and encourage everyone to send them and discuss how to integrate custom handler in mainline.
- Some ideas for new handlers:
- FPGA updater for FPGA with Flash
- Package handler to install packages (ipk, deb) Packages can be inserted into the SWU and the atomicity is guaranteed by SWUpdate.
- Lua handlers should be added if possible to the project to show how to solve custom install.
Handlers installable as plugin at runtime¶
The project supports Lua as script language for pre- and postinstall script. It will be easy to add a way for installing a handler at run-time written in Lua, allowing to expand SWUpdate to the cases not covered in the design phase of a product.
Of course, this issue is related to the security features: it must be ensured that only verified handlers can be added to the system to avoid that malware can get the control of the target.
Current release supports verified images. That means that a handler written in Lua could be now be part of the compound image, because a unauthenticated handler cannot run.
- add support for asymmetryc encryption
Support for evaluation boards¶
meta-swupdate-boards contains examples with evaluation boards. Currently, there are examples using Beaglebone Black, Raspberri PI 3 and Wandboard. The repo is a community driven project: patches welcome.
Back-end support (suricatta mode)¶
Back-end: responsiveness for IPC¶
Suricatta is implemented as process that launches functions for the selected module. This means that the IPC does not answer if Suricatta is doing something, specially if it is downloading and upgrading the system. This can be enhanced adding a separate thread for IPC and of course all required synchronization with the main modules.
Back-end: check before installing¶
In some cases (for example, where bandwidth is important), it is better to check if an update must be installed instead of installing and performs checks later. If SWUpdate provides a way to inform a checker if an update can be accepted before downloading, a download is only done when it is really necessary.
Back-end: hawkBit Offline support¶
There are several discussions on hawkBit’s ML about how to synchronize an offline update (done locally or via the internal Web-server) with the hawkBit’s server. Currently, hawkBit thinks to be the only one deploying software. hawkBit DDI API should be extended, and afterwards changes must be implemented in SWUpdate.
Back-end: support for generic down-loader¶
SWUpdate in down-loader mode works as one-shot: it simply try to download a SWU from a URL. For simple applications, it could be moved into suricatta to detect if a new version is available before downloading and installing.
Back-end: support for Mender¶
There was several discussion how to make a stronger collaboration between different update solution and a proposal discussed previously is to use SWUpdate as client to upgrade from a Mender server, see BOF at ELCE 2017
Support for multiple Servers simultaneously¶
Currently, suricatta’s server backends are a mutually exclusive compile-time choice. There is no interest to have multiple OTA at the same time. This feature won’t be implemented and I will remove this from roadmap if no interest will be waked up.
Test and Continuous Integration¶
The number of configurations and features in SWUpdate is steadily increasing and it becomes urgent to find a way to test all incoming patch to fix regression issues. One step in this direction is the support for Travis build - a set of configuration files is stored with the project and should help to find fast breakages in the build. More in this direction must be done to perform test on targets. A suitable test framework should be found. Scope is to have a “SWUpdate factory” where patches are fast integrated and tested on real hardware.
Documentation is a central point in SWUpdate - maintaining it up to date is a must in this project.