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Draft press release: thanks to Mythic Beasts for loan hardware

Hey folks,

Last year Neil and I secured the loan of a large server box from the
nice people at Mythic Beasts, a friendly UK hosting company. We're
hoping to switch over to a new machine shortly, depending on
availability of donations. With the help of this loan, I ran a large
set of benchmarks for CD image building, potentially saving us a lot
of money from buying the wrong hardware! We promised them a press
release saying thanks, so it's about time I followed through.

I'm thinking of something like the following. Feedback would be
appreciated to fix up bugs, massage into normal Debian style, etc...!

This is quite wordy, I'll admit.


Debian thanks Mythic Beasts for loan hardware

Debian regularly produces many variations of installation CDs and
DVDs, live images and cloud images for its users. We are due to
upgrade soon to a new central build machine for image production to
make the most of the latest CPU and storage technologies. Tuning the
hardware and software configuration of large build machines like this
can be tricky, and buying the wrong equipment can be a costly mistake.

To help with this, the friendly people at Mythic Beasts in the UK
loaned us a large build machine configured with 12 cores, 256GB RAM,
multiple disks, SSDs and NVMe storage. Using this machine, we
evaluated various possible configurations for image building to work
out the best bang per buck.

We wanted to optimise our image build performance in two ways. First,
the working filesystem used for input could be stored on disk, on SSD
or pre-cached in memory. Secondly, the output data could be stored on
either disk or SSD.

Several weeks of benchmarking told us that the best option was simple:
using SSD for the working filesystem. Pre-caching in RAM didn't make a
noticeable difference; the Linux VM system is clearly already very
effective for using RAM cache here. The effect of the output
filesystem was almost negligible in all the tests; tests using SSD
here were no faster than disk, suggesting the input data was the
limiting factor.

This data will allow us to effectively tune our next build server for
best results. We are very grateful to the lovely folks at Mythic
Beasts for letting us use one of their large machines in this way!

About Debian
The Debian Project (https://www.debian.org) is an association of Free
Software developers who volunteer their time and effort in order to
produce the completely free operating system Debian.

About Mythic Beasts
Mythic Beasts (https://www.mythic-beasts.com/) is a privately owned
hosting ISP with a focus on a no-nonsense service backed by excellent
technical support. They have been hosting and supporting Debian VMs
for years.

Steve McIntyre, Cambridge, UK.                                steve@einval.com
Welcome my son, welcome to the machine.

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