Work request scheduling

Lifecycle of a work request

When a work request gets submitted, debusine records it with a pending status and with no worker assigned. The list of pending work requests constitutes the queue of work requests that are waiting to be processed.

When the debusine scheduler finds a suitable worker (it must be idle and must match the requirements defined by the planned task), the work request is assigned to the worker and the worker is notified of the availability of a new work request to process. When the worker starts to process the work request, the status is updated to running.


At any point in time, there is at most one (pending or running) work request assigned to a given worker.

When the worker has finished to process the work request, and after having sent back the results and uploaded generated artifacts, the status is updated to completed.

The aborted status is a special case, it can only be set by the submitter or by an administrator. It is the official way to cancel a work request.


Work requests have a base priority and a priority adjustment. The former is set automatically, and the latter by administrators. The effective priority of a work request is the sum of its base priority and its priority adjustment. The scheduler considers eligible tasks in descending order of effective priority.

The base priority of a work request is normally set by a workflow template or a workflow orchestrator. Failing that, it defaults to the effective priority of the parent work request (computed at creation time). If there is no parent work request, it defaults to 0.

Workflow templates have a priority, which is used as the initial base priority for work requests created from that template. This can be set by administrators, and it is expected that workflows used by automated QA tasks would be given a negative priority.

When workflow orchestrators lay out an execution plan, they may adjust the base priority of each resulting work request relative to the parent work request’s effective priority. For example, an orchestrator planning several different kinds of tasks might choose to give quicker static analysis tasks a slightly higher base priority than slower dynamic analysis tasks.

Separating the priority adjustment from the base priority allows us to tell more easily when effective priorities have been adjusted manually.

Users with the db.change_workrequest permission (including superusers) can use debusine manage-work-request --set-priority-adjustment ADJUSTMENT WORK_REQUEST_ID to adjust a work request’s priority.

Ordering of work request

The scheduler handles the queue of pending work requests in descending order of effective priority, breaking ties by chronological order of creation (first in, first out).


This doesn’t mean that all work requests will be processed in that priority order because they can have different requirements for workers. If work request N has no suitable worker available, but N+1 has one worker available, then N+1 will start before N.

Matching of workers and work requests

Every time that a worker completes a work request, the scheduler kicks in and tries to find a suitable next work request for that worker.

The scheduler builds a dictionary-based description of that worker by combining static metadata (set by the administrators) and dynamic metadata (returned by the worker themselves). The key/values from the static metadata take precedence over those provided by the dynamic metadata.

A first filter is made by:

  • excluding work requests whose task_name are listed in the tasks_denylist metadata

  • selecting work requests whose task_name are listed in the tasks_allowlist metadata

Then a second — work-request specific — filter is made by the scheduler. For each work request, the scheduler builds the Task object out of the work request and runs task.can_run_on(worker_metadata) to verify if the work request can run on that worker.

If there are remaining work requests, then they are deemed to be suitable for that worker and the oldest of those work requests is assigned to that worker.

Management of architecture-specific tasks

Many work requests have to run on worker of a specific architecture (or on a worker that is compatible with that architecture). This selection is done as part of the task.can_run_on method and relies on the system:architectures metadata key.

That key is set by default to a list with a single item containing the host architecture (as returned by dpkg --print-architecture).

See Configure the list of compatible architectures for detailed instructions on how to configure the appropriate metadata.