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Some thoughts on the ARM build daemons

Hi all,

The ARM port is getting bad [1], the percentage of packages built
staying a bit more than 90% for 2 weeks. Also this is confirmed by a
message on #debian-arm this morning:

09:30 < doko> please could somebody care about the python2.4, python2.5,
binutils, gcc-4.1 and gcj-4.1 builds for arm? for gcj-4.1, please see
the instructions posted on debian-ports/debian-gcc

gcj-4.1 has to be bootstrapped manually (after python is installable
again), but all other packages have not been built on ARM. They are
blocked by python being uninstallable, but python2.4 is on position 115!
in the list of packages to build.

The problems mainly comes from the build daemons. Only *3 out of 7* are
building packages, and one of the three is also building stable-security
from time to time.

Here are the states and reasons I have been able to found on the web and
on IRC:
- grieg: up, building packages
- cats: up, building packages
- tofee: up, building packages, sometimes stable-security.
- smackdown: down, waiting for a 2.6 kernel
- elara: down, waiting for bug#421037
- europa: down, waiting for bug#421037
- netwinder: down, waiting for bug#421037, but seems to be unaffected
  by this bug

Note that the bug#421037 may be due to a too old kernel, but the glibc
maintainers are lacking information.

The situation is lasting for some time now, and I see no sign that it
will change soon. If the person in charge of the ARM build daemons is
short on time (which I can understand, life is life), why not delegate a
person to fix this problem?

Also the build power has always been tight on this architecture, so even
if they are all restarted today, it would take weeks to get back to a
normal state.

I think it is time to changes things. Our faster build daemons have a
233MHz CPU with 256MB of RAM, while there are way faster ARM CPU today.

Quoting our new DPL's platform:

  "So we still have that money, and I would like to use it at least to
   fix our broken hardware."

What about buying new ARM hardware with that money?

Having faster machines would also allow to cope with hardware, software
or human failures that always happens from time to time. Replacing one
machine with another solve the problem of finding a hosting place for
the new machine.

Any comments?


[1] http://buildd.debian.org/stats/graph-week-big.png
[2] http://www.debian.org/vote/2007/platforms/sho

  .''`.  Aurelien Jarno	            | GPG: 1024D/F1BCDB73
 : :' :  Debian developer           | Electrical Engineer
 `. `'   aurel32@debian.org         | aurelien@aurel32.net
   `-    people.debian.org/~aurel32 | www.aurel32.net

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