The Ubuntu archive administration team has always required direct privileged shell access to the ftpmaster system in order to perform many of its routine tasks. This is a security problem, it prevents us from opening some tasks up to those who are not Canonical employees, and it makes it hard for us to improve our own tools. Improve the Launchpad API to handle all our requirements and write suitable API clients.

We will know we have succeeded when archive admins no longer require shell access to do their jobs.

Release Note

This is not a user-facing feature.


Fixing this has been a long-term goal for many years. Specific problems caused by the current mechanism include:

The direction for improvement is in large part obvious: the Launchpad API should be extended so that all operations currently performed by archive admins using shell access to ftpmaster have been replaced by API clients. At that point our shell access can be removed.

In fact, a substantial part of this work has been done over the years, and particularly recently as part of the derived distributions project, along with some rsync modules that allowed us to move several reporting jobs to another machine. However, there is still a good deal to do, and it seems likely that it will only ever get done if we make a specific coordinated effort to do it. This will require substantial although shallow work on Launchpad, and continued work by the Ubuntu archive admins to migrate our scripts elsewhere.


This is broken down by user. Completing everything in either of the first two categories would allow incremental reductions in archive admin privilege before the entire project is complete.

lp_publish user

This user owns the published archive itself. Removing our access to this user and its associated group would remove our direct access to the archive signing key and much of our ability to untraceably modify the archive.

lp_queue user


This user is responsible for processing incoming uploads. Removing our access to this user would remove our ability to forge uploads by other developers.

lp_archive user

Everything else.


FoundationsTeam/ReplaceArchiveAdminShellAccess (last edited 2013-10-02 11:45:46 by cjwatson)