Subject: Re: a tool free software developers need
From: Nick Jennings <>
Date: Fri, 15 Feb 2002 11:37:34 -0800

On Fri, Feb 15, 2002 at 12:33:53PM -0800, Tom Lord wrote:
> Here's a more concrete example of something to build as part of a
> transition to a business "B" world.

 I must admit I was slightly confused by the misunderstandings between
 you and Michael Tiemann about what exactly business "B" is, (and for
 that matter, "A" as well). Could you *briefly* clarify?

> Lately, I'm getting bug reports that are very platform and
> configuration specific.  These aren't necessarily obscure systems --
> more like "RedHat 7.2 with Bash 2.05a.0 and gawk 3.0.6" or "Solaris
> mumbledefoo on an Ultrasparc" -- but they are different from the
> systems I have and at this stage, I usually can't reproduce the bugs
> reported on the machines I have.
> Sometimes the bug reporter is willing to act as a (very low bandwidth,
> very high level) remote debugger; sometimes not.  Sometimes they have
> the skill for that; sometimes not.

 I sympathize with you, have been in this position myself several

> I could go a lot faster if I could get as accurate a description of
> the platform as possible, fire off an email to a friendly platform
> farm, and get back a reservation:
> 	To:
> 	From:
> 	You have a 3 hour reservation on at 3am 
> 	on 2002-02-16.  Your ssh key is attached.
 This is a good idea. I would be able to utilize something like this
 quite often. But would I pay? not sure about that...

> Presumably "test235" would be freshly loaded with a
> closest-available-approximation of my platform spec when I log in, and
> would be re-loaded after I leave.
 So, re-installed after every session. Although I see the security
 reasons for this, I don't quite think it's realistic for someone
 to re-install a system every 3 hours. Even if this process was 
 automated, there would still be logistics (especially for 
 non-free systems).
 I don't see how much money could be made off this model though. Would
 you really pay for this service? If so how much, and how often would
 you use something like this? To me, it seems slightly conflicting
 to pay for a service to aid you in your open source development.
 It's like mixing white and brown eggs, you still get an omelette, but
 the process is not as aesthetically pleasing...
> The platform farm would also be handy if I could automate my end --
> simply have it pick release candidates from my repository and run a
> test suite, mailing me the results on a number of platforms.  There
> doesn't have to be just one platform farm: it might make good sense to
> build a P2P network so that trusted volunteers from all over can throw
> machines into the pool.
> Implementing tools like that would also make it more likely that
> various projects would raise the priority of beefing up their test
> suites -- because there'd be a direct pay-off for doing so.  It would
> be an opportunity to widely deploy (de facto) standardized frameworks
> for building, testing, and installing packages.

  Nick Jennings