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Re: MIPS port backlog, autobuilder machines and some arrogance

On Mon, Nov 17, 2003 at 12:53:39AM +1100, Martin Michlmayr - Debian Project Leader wrote:
> [ Responding to this since I've been BCCed. ]
> * Ingo Juergensmann <ij@2003.bluespice.org> [2003-11-14 11:34]:
> > I´ve been told that this is caused by some toolchain and kernel
> > problems on mips that make the buildds running slow.
> I talked to Ryan about the mips port about two weeks ago; I'll try to
> summarize the information he gave me.  The kernel problem you refer to

Great. As already stated, I've contacted him as well last week without any
response to the MIPS situation neither to http://buildd.debian.org linking
or even hosting the buildd stats for all archs currently hosted on
No response leads to the assumption that the person is unresponsive
(vacation, busy, ignorant, ill, MIA, ...).   

> is that the kernel does not use the secondary cache of the chips.

Yes, and that's another reason why more machines would be more helpful,

> Another problem is that one machine (hosted by Flo in Germany) only
> has 64 MB RAM.  Apparently, Flo has more RAM, though; otherwise, I

Arrakis (the shutdown m68k buildd) has only 64 MB as well and is performing
comparably great. 
The offered mips machine has 96 MB - but there was no conversation about how
well equipped the machine is or not. The offer was just dropped down by
obscure reasons.

> have recently been given some RAM which I'll send him once I'll be
> back in Europe (in December).

If you still have that RAM, there is just another Indigo2 we can offer here
in Rostock. ;-)
> The major problem why mips is not keeping up, however, is that the
> hard drive of a build machine in the States died recently.

Well, same happened to m68k port over the last weeks and that's the reason
why I believe that having more machines is always better, because there'll
always fail one machine or another for some reasons, so it's good to have
backup machines.

> Unfortunately, this machine is much faster than the other machines in
> use.  I am trying to get a new hard drive for this machine, but
> unfortunately the hardware donations manager is currently on vacation
> and hasn't responded to my mail yet; we might just buy one if he
> doesn't respond soon.  Alternatively, in anyone is reading this who
> can spare a SCSI disk (in the States, for an Indy, see
> http://sgistuff.g-lenerz.de/machines/indy.html), please get in
> contact.  This would help to improve the situation drastically.

Disks donations are always appreciated. ;)
> > Everything went well with that machine - until we directed the
> > request to debian-admin to get wanna-build access for mips. The
> > request was rejected with the following reasons (to my knowledge):
> > - another machine is in the works
> > - we don´t need your machine
> Yes, a fairly powerful machine has recently been donated to Debian and
> we're currently working out where to host it.

Where is it located?

>  Also, I have been in
> contact with SGI to get a very powerful system which should solve this
> problem for a long time.  However, I am still working on this.

It would be nice to have SGI help out for porting the kernel to the newer
MIPS CPUs such as R12000. We have an Octane R12000 standing there that could
be used... well, you know it... ;))
> I also offered Ryan to get a temporary system online, but he told me
> not to bother unless it's a very high performance system.  IIUC, it
> takes some time to get it set up as a buildd, etc.

Hmmm... I don't know how long Ryan needs to setup a buildd, but for m68k we
have already setup enough buildds as well and everything is there and just
needs a "Go for it!" and the access to wanna-build db and IP added for
access to incoming. This could be done within some hours. 
Debian is running on that machine, mail is running, IP is static, buildd and
sbuild are installed.... 

> In any case, your offer is welcome, and I think we can make use of it,
> albeit in a different way.  You could make the box available to
> various Debian people.  For example, the XFree86 maintainer is looking
> for someone to try building the current version in experimental on
> mips.  That would be a great way your machine could be used.

XFree needs a little too more disk space than the machine currently has, but
there is already a solution in progress. Maybe when someone wants to donate
another disk, it would be helpful as well... ;) 

> In any case, the situation is known and solutions are being worked on.
> Help is definitely appreciated. 

That's not the impression I got. 
The answer of "we don't want your machine" was rather harsh and arrogant in
my eyes, especially the reasoning that I'm not experienced enough on MIPS to
run a buildd is a rather stupid one.
I'm complaining about the way this was communicated, that the pure fact that
the machine isn't needed as a buildd itself. Some people should really work
on their social skills, I guess... :-//

> Also, while we are covering this
> topic, let me mention that mips is not a "door stop" architecture.
> While most machines which were _very_ powerful in the past are fairly
> dated now (e.g. SGI Indy), mips CPUs are actively being developed.
> There are CPUs with 2 cores and > 1 GHz frequency.

Sure. I know.
I have strong background from being a 3D graphician working with
PowerAnimator and Maya since day 1 on MIPS, we were registered SGI
developers at company and I own my private Indy as well. 
And that's why I'm so upset about that statement that I don't have enough
knowledge about MIPS to run a buildd, which is - again - a rather stupid
statement, because I didn't wanted to admin the buildd myself.

And furthermore I would recommend to widen up the numbers of buildd maintainers on
every arch. We have good experience with multiple buildd admins on m68k and
I don't see why that can't be transposed to other archs?
The only thing you'll need are people that are wanting and being able to
cooperate, of course.  

> > As a result and a sort of protest, I´ll stopped my m68k buildd,
> > because I don´t know m68k that much to be of any help for this port
> > anymore.
> A m68k has indicated that your machine is helpful for the m68k port,
> so I urge you to reconsider this decision.

It's restarted again, considering and hoping that my aspects and criticism
will not be dropped under the table and be forgotten, but will be discussed
further to make Debian even better than it is now! 
(Regarding to other answers to the original mail, there is need for such a
discussion, I believe.)

Ciao...              // 
      Ingo         \X/

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