iXsystems has hosted the Quality Assurance Tinderbox used within the FreeBSD ports infrastructure for several months. The Quality Assurance Tinderbox (QAT) is an automated QA system used to identify problems in FreeBSD ports and packages, by building ports and generating the corresponding binary packages, then generating automated failure notifications. Recently, iXsystems decided to help the FreeBSD community improve upon QAT’s existing capabilities by updating the existing QAT server hardware.
The previous QAT server ran only FreeBSD 8.0-STABLE AMD64, which limited its ability to detect issues that port builds may have with other FreeBSD versions and architectures. In order to increase the functionality of QAT, iXsystems upgraded the hardware to increase speed and to extend its quality checks to other versions of the FreeBSD operating system. The new QAT server is housed in a 1U form factor with dual quad-core Intel® Xeon® 5400 Series processors. This machine features 8 total processing cores, 16GB of memory, and two 1TB SATA hard drives. QAT is being heavily refactored to utilize these new hardware resources as efficiently as possible.
The previous setup functioned as a monolithic single server. The new QAT, however, will use a client/server model. The compile nodes act as the clients and the server schedules the compiles and collects the information about the builds. The server runs VMWare ESXi 4.0, a lightweight virtualization OS that allows virtual machines to run with minimal overhead. The QAT’s NFS server, MySQL server, and Apache webserver all run on dedicated machines running FreeBSD 8.0/AMD64. The scheduling hypervisor will either run on a virtual machine or in a jail on one of iXsystems’ jail servers.
The upgraded QAT will provide a real-world testing ground for further improvements of QAT and tinderbox in general. It will also allow for future up-scaling with the addition of either virtual or physical compile machines. Both end-users of FreeBSD and derived-users, like PC-BSD, will experience a beneficial impact with the advent of the improved QAT.
“The new resources provided by iXsystems will allow us to lower even more the response time and, perhaps more importantly, to extend on-commit testing to more build environments and non-default configurations. This helps both to reduce the amount of time required to detect a port’s broken state and to increase the ability to do testing on non-default configurations,”
says Ion-Mihai Tetcu, FreeBSD Committer and the author/maintainer of QAT.
iXsystems’ Technical Team provided the hardware and the manpower for the upgraded QAT server. The initial configurations, OS installations, and setup of remote access took place at the iXsystems, Inc. headquarters in San Jose, California. iXsystems will be hosting the machine at their San Jose headquarters as well.
The database and ports distfiles that the QAT relies on are already on the iXsystems network infrastructure, making the transition to a new machine much easier. FreeBSD committers from the FreeBSD project are migrating the data from the old machine to the new, and will be administrating the QAT remotely.