Decommissioning an old project feels odd

I recently finished decommissioning an old project of ours: CentOS Stream 8 source-git repositories.

It was one of the weirdest tasks I have done in my career.


Removing, not adding

My main task was to remove ~1500 git repositories that almost no one used for more than 12 months.

That wasn’t my typical assignment. I am used to work on new features, resolving problems, getting feedback; not removing content. That felt just weird to me. I had to constantly remind myself I am doing the right thing and that’s what we decided to complete.


Developers of 2022 are so used to Continuous Integration (and that’s a good thing!), tests and peer review. But if your task is to literally delete a GitLab project - there is no CI for that. If you screw up and drop a wrong repo, some teams may not be able to produce any work. And will hate you, a lot. That’s why I spent tenths of minutes looking at my python script, re-running it in dry-run mode, even with debugger on (!), just to be sure it does what I want it to do.

More subtasks than expected

I original scoped the story to:

  1. Announce what we want to do
  2. Drop the repos
  3. Announce it’s done

Thanks to my colleague Hunor who suggested a dozen more subtasks: disable the backend service, archive related repos, deprecate outdated research, clean up secrets and deployment stuff… It turned out to be more complex than I originally expected.

Once I finished, Jirka dropped even more stuff that was suddenly not needed.

Lesson learnt: always work with your team when a complex story is ahead: you may miss something that your peers notice.

Looking forward instead of backward

I am glad we can now fully focus on our current future goal: having source-git workflow available in Fedora Linux and CentOS Stream 9. Source-git repos for Stream 8 didn’t work because of the nature of its relationship with RHEL 8. With Stream 9 we can focus on the endgame, not just some temporary solution.

This was a hard decision to do, and even harder to defend from leadership. Thanks to the open discussion with all the parties, it was clear what we are doing and why we are doing it.

I learnt my lesson here to focus on doing the right thing instead of doing what’s easy and convenient.


It’s okay to decommission a project that is not working as expected: learn from that experience and apply the knowledge to its successor.

Be open when communicating: everyone wants a win:win situation. If it’s hard, you’ll value that accomplishment even more.

Work with your team, ask for their help, opinions, suggestions. They are your partners in crime - allow them to help you.

Onto next adventures!

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