Readying a new tinderbox? I could use your help!

I don’t think it’s much more of a secret anymore that I’m planning on moving to the United States before end of the year if I can. This means not only that I have to bring down and move around the business happening in Italy, but also that I have to find a way to rebuild my own infrastructure here in the US.

This has become more important since yesterday my home router in Italy decided to have hiccups that it didn’t have in a long time, and I’m now unable to reach any of the computers back at home. Including the monitoring services, the containers I use to build the packages for the remote servers, and so on so forth. Given I was already planning retiring Yamato after almost four years of almost uninterrupted service, simply because the mainboards started acting up, and adding to that, the fact that shipping it between EU and US is going to be a pain, and more expensive than the system is worth, I decided it’s time to get a completely new box, here in the US.

At first I was looking for dedicated servers offerings, but the monthly prices are definitely too steep for my taste — yes of course I could get one in the EU but that’s not the same thing. Besides, I’d really much prefer having something that, in the worst case, still allow me direct access to the box as needed. After discussing it with KingTaco, I decided to check out what was available from NewEgg, and the result is that I found what would be the perfect box to host the next round of testings: a dual 16-core, 32GB RAM, 4TB HDD system, for just under four thousands dollars.

Of course that’s still quite a bit of money especially considering I’m trying to account for all factors of moving here, closing the business in Italy, and still giving enough to my mother to keep on going for a while…

And here’s where the pledgie is coming into view. While I’m going to use the new box for a few personal projects as well, it’s obvious that its main use will be again tinderboxing, and since this time I don’t intend for it to be hosted within my home, I want to be able to give access to other developers to the different tinderboxes as well. Add to that the enormous amount of time required to go through the logs and report bugs (most of which I’ll be unable to spend during my work hours), and you can probably see why I’m asking again for some help to go back at tinderboxing.

While I set up the pledgie to the actual, full price of the box, this does not mean I’m not going to pay my share: both PayPal and Pledgie take out their own fees, which is actually quite steep in by itself (PayPal’s more than Pledgie’s!), and there is the issue of finding a co-location, which I’ll also take care of paying for. For more details of what I had in mind, see the following, quoted text of the Pledgie page:

Those of you who have been following me for long enough know this already, but for those who haven’t, my Tinderbox is an effort to keep compiling and installing the packages available in Gentoo to make it possible to know whether they are working correctly or not.

While this is not considered an “official” effort, the fact that I’ve not been running this for almost an year starts to show with packages being bumped without their reverse dependencies being checked, and new automagic dependencies cropping up that weren’t noticed before.

Also considering that I’m now in the process of moving from Europe to the United States, and the fact that the motherboard of the system I’ve been using to run tinderboxing has been showing problems (which is the reason why I stopped working on it), I think it’s time to get a new system (from scratch at this point), and restart the effort.

This time the system will be clearly cut so that the tinderboxing is handled in a separate environment, so that other developers will also have access to it, but I’ll also keep running some of my personal projects in there, and some work-related software. From my side, I’m going to take care of assembly and maintenance of the system, and will pay for its connectivity (likely in a co-lo near where I’m going to stay in the US).

But since it’s still a non-trivial amount of money that is required for a system powerful enough not to be replaced in the next few years, I’m going to ask for the help of you all out there. The target is set to the exact price of the system I’m aiming for on newegg but unfortunately that also means that it includes sales taxes. Please note that while the following specs could look like overkill, this time I aim on running multiple, isolated tinderboxes, in particular I have three configurations I care about: amd64, amd64-hardened and x86.

* Dual Opteron 6272 16-core 2.1GHz CPU

  • 32GB DDR3 ECC RAM
    * 4x1TB Western Digital Caviar Black HDDs
    * 32GB OCZ Onyx SSD (for operating system)

Please keep in mind that the hardware is only one fraction of the value behind the tinderbox, as the most important part is reporting the bugs, which is still not automated, so while I’m asking you to pledge money, I’m pledging a lot of my free time for this project again.

Please help, if you can. Thank you immensely.
Diego Elio Pettenò aka Flameeyes

Click here to lend your support to: Flameeyes's New Tinderbox and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

For those who wonder how it’s possible to have a donation before the Pledgie started, I had some extra funds from previous donations which I’m pledging myself against this. Furthermore I’m going to pledge all the Flattr funds that I can get into my PayPal account in the future months. For those who don’t want to use PayPal, I’ll be tallying up donations coming in form of gift certificates for Amazon or iTunes (both US) manually, just make sure to tell if you want to have your name shown or not.

12 thoughts on “Readying a new tinderbox? I could use your help!

  1. If you can keep it in a 1U case (I’ve done 2 systems dual 16-core systems in this profile, shouldn’t be a problem) I can give you free rack space and a few tens of mbit bandwidth on a gigabit port. A chassis like this http://www.newegg.com/Produ… would work. I can send you details privately about my company so this doesn’t look spammy.

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  2. Would it make sense to consider having this be a Gentoo-owned box, with Foundation support? The Foundation can of course accept payments with less in the way of fees/etc potentially. Right now it isn’t 501c3 so tax deductions aren’t an option, but that is something we’re looking into (probably not in time for this).Of course, ownership might be an issue if you planned to use this for other personal work as well. So, certainly don’t feel obligated to go this route. I for one appreciate all that you’ve been doing with the tinderbox and of course your time as well.If you are interested in exploring options feel free to drop the trustees an email. This is still quite a bit of money so we need to figure out if it makes sense all around, and perhaps a fund drive of some sort still might make sense. However, the Foundation does have cash in the bank and this strikes me as exactly the sort of thing that people donate to support.Best of luck with this either way!

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  3. Kevin, thanks I guess I’ll check out that chassis and see what can be done, although right now I’m still vouching options first in the areas where I’m going to be, in the US (so Los Angeles and the bay areas mostly), but I’ll send you an email tonight.Rich, as I said I’m in need of something along these lines for my own stuff, it’s not something I wish to ask the Foundation to get… as I said the tinderboxing is going to take away a lot of my free time; if there were other developers involved with the bug opening I’d be fine with paying my own (smaller) box and use a Foundation-paid box _only_ for tinderboxing.. but given the kind of answer I got from Markos, I’m not counting on that.And since I’m using my own time, I hope you understand why I’d rather have this under my own rules…

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  4. Will think about donating to this cause.Just one thing: Weren’t the 1TB WD Blacks signficantly slower than 2TB ones, and those in term slower than RE4 or SSD?Is it really worth saving some money on these, with the rest of the system decked out as it is?

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  5. The only reason why I’m docking the expense on the disks is that I expect the prices to go back to “normal” range before they start to feel like the bottleneck too much. Given the kind of stress the tinderboxes cause, I’d rather _not_ use SSD on it.As for the speed issues between 1 and 2 TB I think the issue relates to the SATA generation used. Both 1 and 2 TB sizes have SATA II and SATA III versions, and the one I have listed is a SATA III. The good RE4 (not the RE4-GP, that is) are quite more expensive.To give you an idea: * old SATA II (3Gb/s) WD Caviar Black 1TB $135 * SATA III (6Gb/s) WD Caviar Black 1TB $140 * SATA III (6Gb/s) WD Caviar Black 2TB $220 * SATA II (3Gb/s) WD RE4 2TB $320That’s why I ignored the RE for now.

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  6. Hi,if I understand it right, tinderbox keeps testing ~x86. What’s with the ~amd64? Do you plan to test it with the nice Dual Opteron as well?Thanks for all your gentoo work and have a good time in US ;-)

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  7. The old system only tested ~x86, correct. The new one will have three runs covering ~amd64, ~amd64-hardened and ~x86 — with ~x86 being the last one rather than the main one, now.

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  8. Flattr: Donation to Flameeyes, 2012-04-30 €11.58Currently the easiest, and all the money i’ve got left there ;).

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  9. I’ve found that RAM has gotten so cheap that I usually set up a ~20gb ramdisk and compile my stuff on that instead of the disk to avoid exhousting my SSDs. I assume the install process in itself when the compile is done will be enough strain to keep using old HDDs anyway.I’ll tell some friends and see if we can’t get some cash donated, I’ve been feeling decline in testing over the last year and actually considered leaving gentoo due to it. Now that I read that the tinderbox been off for a year things suddenly make sense again, time to pitch in a bit and see what happens.Also, I recommend you get two SSD’s and put your OS on a mirror.Write us a new post when you’re getting stuff up and running again.

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  10. Talked with a few friends and made a donation of $100 from all of us.Hope you get things back up and that the move works our well for you.

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