Project-specific install guides

Project-specific install guides

Problem description

With the growing OpenStack Big Tent, many projects need to create install guides. The current install guide is concentrating on a small set of projects and gets tested each release. Documenting and testing all projects in the install guide is not possible with the current size of the OpenStack documentation team.

We therefore need to find a way that allows projects to write their own install guides without involvement of the documentation team - and the documentation team acting as enabler for these documents.

Proposed change

The basic install guide serves as a reference to reach the first step where administrators have all the underlying services like MySQL and RabbitMQ and a base set of functionality installed and working. It is essential for every reader of the guide to have high-quality, proactively-checked, easy-to-understand content. The intent for a central, basic install guide is to train and orient readers so they can understand multiple OpenStack services while making informed decisions for their situation.

Then additional project-specific guides can be written that pick up from that base first step, assuming their readers have completed that first step successfully.

Ownership of the project specific install guides is with the respective project team, not the documentation team. This means the content is in an existing or new repository owned by the project team, reviews will be done by the project team, and bug reports will go in the bug queue of the project.

The documentation team enables the project team to write the project specific guides with mentoring, setting up needed infrastructure, writing guidelines, provision of a template (“cookie cutter”), and providing a working base install guide that the project specific guides can use as reference.

Scope of basic install guide

The content of the basic install guide will cover the infrastructure and centralized projects that every cloud needs. This includes the projects defined as the starter-kit:compute plus a few others:

  • Compute service (nova): Part of starter-kit:compute.
  • Image service (glance): Part of starter-kit:compute.
  • Identity service (keystone): Part of starter-kit:compute.
  • Networking service (neutron): Part of starter-kit:compute.
  • Block storage service (cinder): Part of current install guide and expected by most users.
  • Dashboard (horizon): Part of current install guide and expected by most users.

No further projects will be added to the guide unless they are required by one of the existing projects or generally required to run an OpenStack based cloud.

The documentation team updates and tests the basic install guide for each release.

The install guide will be enhanced to link to additional project specific install guides. For this, it will have in a separate chapter for each official project a small section where each official project can give a short summary of their project together with a link to their own install guide. The chapter will also explain that all these projects are first-class citizens of the big tent of OpenStack.

For example, Orchestration could store their install guide in the heat repository, and publish to .

Then the chapter “Additional projects” would contain a small section to introduce the service and link to it:

Orchestration service (heat)

The Orchestration service ...

Installation is documented at
. index

The project specific install guides will be listed not only in the install guide but also be found from the web page. An exact location will need to be found based on the number of guides.

Content of project specific install guides

The content of these project specific install guides is outside of the control of the documentation team. For consistency with the base install guide architecture and as part of the “enabling others” part, the documentation team has some suggestions:

  • We encourage projects to build on top of the existing install guide architecture. This way the project team guide does not need to document a full OpenStack setup including the basic host setup. Instead of reinventing the wheel, the project team guide can just point out differences for the specific project.
  • We encourage projects to follow the documentation conventions as written down in the Documentation Contributor Guide.
  • We encourage projects to use the same theme (called openstackdocstheme) as the install guide.
  • We encourage projects to support the same distributions as the install guide does. They can either document installation of OpenStack packages from distributors or installation from source.
  • Project specific guides should be versioned, so project teams should publish to the respective subdirectory for their service.
  • RST is the preferred documentation format and our tools for publishing work best with it. Also, translation of RST guides is easy to set up and working in the OpenStack CI infrastructure. Therefore, project teams should use RST as format.
  • The project team installation guides should have a common naming scheme: “X Service install guide” where X is the service name from the governance repository. So, for example “Orchestration Service install guide”.


Project teams can publish their content to ``. ``RELEASE is the release like mitaka or newton, SERVICE is the service name like orchestration. For publishing from master, the RELEASE should be draft.

This structure takes care that we do not share directories for different projects.


  • Packaged install guides separated out, with no single-sourced install guide: each distribution publishes their own installation guide. These guides can be published to or to a web domain they own, sourced and reviewed from their own repositories with their teams. These teams can set their own publishing schedule. This alternative solution does not address the project teams needs, but alleviates the resource drain on a centralized docs team.

  • Stop writing package-based install guides in the OpenStack git namespace entirely. Instead, have a central team write a starter-kit-based guide that describes the multiple available deployment options and publish to This solution may be already available when readers browse the distro marketplace at

  • Each project team can write an “installation from source” installation guide that includes all the basic project infrastructure set up.

  • Change scope of install guide, add a few more or less projects as proposed in this spec to it. This does not address the current single- sourcing with packages problem described, however.

  • Status quo: One central install guide that is maintained by the documentation team and no project specific guides for those projects that are not part of the central guide. This approach does not scale unless we receive a commitment of resources from each project in the installation guide.

  • One central guide that is reviewed by the documentation team - like today - and only projects are documented when the project team has committed writing, testing, and updating the chapter.

    This does not scale since reviewing would still be done by the documentation team. Experience in the past has shown that project teams need to be reminded of their commitment, so in the end the documentation team would play a large coordination and shepherding role for such a large guide - instead of following the enablement role that is sought by this proposal.



  • Lana Brindley (loquacities) - Docs PTL
  • Install Guide Speciality Team

Work Items

  • Move projects that are now out of scope of the basic install guide into in their own repositories. Also, create initial skeleton for these project specific install guides so that project teams have a consistent starting point that others can follow as example.

    This affects: Orchestration (heat), Telemetry (telemetry), Object Storage (swift), Shared File system (manila).

  • Create new chapter “project specific install guides” as skeleton.

  • Create new project-specific install guides section on .

  • Create example jobs for publishing of project-specific install guides (jaegerandi).

  • Work with operator tags team to amend the ops:docs:install-guide tag (thingee)

  • Create a “cookie cutter” template for use by projects when creating new Install Guides.



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