Tags: #octave 

rsync boosted Buildbots

Using rsync instead of Buildbot’s own file transfers, which are known to be slow, significantly reduced the file transfer time between the Buildbot Workers and the Buildbot Master from 25.5 hours to about 18 minutes (-98%). This improvement, and a few others, enables a single “strong” Worker to build and publish Octave and all MS Windows installers within 24 hours or with four parallel Workers within 6 hours.

octave-buildbot: the final picture?


The initial project design from August has “matured” in the following aspects:

  1. The Buildbot Master container can now be accessed from the Workers by SSH. This enables rsync file transfers with significant speed improvements. On the other hand, additional authentication is necessary. SSH key-based authentication was favored over plain username/password authentication via Secret. This gives the Buildbot Master more control about the Workers which can access the Docker container. The SSH port is publicly visible and not only Buildbot Workers might try to get access.
  2. The storage location of the build artifacts on the Buildbot Master was moved inside a Docker Volume and is shared with a Nginx web server container. Testing on a local machine is now no different from the production system on https://octave.space and one does not need to worry about the Buildbot Master to mess up the server’s file system directly. The system’s native Apache web server now only serves as proxy and delegates requests from the world wide web to the respective container to serve the requested content.

The bill revisited

In a previous post the computational costs for the Buildbot Workers are listed in Table 1 there. This table has been revisited below. For the Buildbot Master there were no big changes.

Like in the previous table, a Buildbot Worker is expected to provide 4 CPU cores and 75 GB of disk storage.

The heterogeneity among the Workers is the reason for significantly different build times for the MS Windows installers (Octave-MXE). “Stronger” Workers, equipped with a modern server CPU, outperform those with a consumer CPU by hours of build time.

Builder name build time (hours) [1] upload time (minutes) build space (GB) [2] artifact size (GB)
octave 0.5 6 10 2.3
octave-mxe-w32 5-8 4 14 1.3
octave-mxe-w64 5-8 4 14 1.3
octave-mxe-w64-64 5-8 4 14 1.3
sum (worst case) 24.5 18 52 6.2

Table footnotes:

  1. All builds are performed in a clean empty build folder.
  2. Additional disk space is needed for ccache, which currently uses 13 GB of 20 GB, and 1.5 GB for the mxe-octave installer files, which are cached to avoid unnecessary downloads.

Despite the file transfer time reduction, there were two further minor improvements:

  1. The “Builders” for Octave and the Doxygen documentation have been merged. This reduces the build time of both tasks by about 20%, as no additional build of Octave for the Doxygen documentation is necessary. Compared to the Octave-MXE build times, this reduction is not significant.
  2. The usage of ccache for the Octave-MXE had some measurable improvement, which is shown by three examples for different types of Workers:


The usage of rsync to copy the files from the Buildbot Workers to the Master is without doubt a huge step forward for the project and it’s very heterogeneous and (over continents) distributed infrastructure. Valuable machine hours are no longer wasted for unnecessarily slow file transfers.

Furthermore, the thorough usage of ccache for the Octave-MXE builds has a measurable impact for all types of Buildbot Workers and saves build time for repetitive compilation tasks without sacrificing “clean” release builds.

Currently the last outstanding issue of octave-buildbot is probably a library issue with modern CPUs. The progress on this issue is tracked on GitHub and hopefully it will be solved soon.

Happy brewing.

(C) 2017 — 2020 Kai Torben Ohlhus. This work is licensed under CC BY 4.0. Page design adapted from minima and researcher. Get the sources on GitHub.