24.6. Tracking for Multiple Machines

Contributed by Mike Meyer.

When multiple machines need to track the same source tree, it is a waste of disk space, network bandwidth, and CPU cycles to have each system download the sources and rebuild everything. The solution is to have one machine do most of the work, while the rest of the machines mount that work via NFS. This section outlines a method of doing so. For more information about using NFS, refer to Section 30.3, “Network File System (NFS)”.

First, identify a set of machines which will run the same set of binaries, known as a build set. Each machine can have a custom kernel, but will run the same userland binaries. From that set, choose a machine to be the build machine that the world and kernel are built on. Ideally, this is a fast machine that has sufficient spare CPU to run make buildworld and make buildkernel.

Select a machine to be the test machine, which will test software updates before they are put into production. This must be a machine that can afford to be down for an extended period of time. It can be the build machine, but need not be.

All the machines in this build set need to mount /usr/obj and /usr/src from the build machine via NFS. For multiple build sets, /usr/src should be on one build machine, and NFS mounted on the rest.

Ensure that /etc/make.conf and /etc/src.conf on all the machines in the build set agree with the build machine. That means that the build machine must build all the parts of the base system that any machine in the build set is going to install. Also, each build machine should have its kernel name set with KERNCONF in /etc/make.conf, and the build machine should list them all in its KERNCONF, listing its own kernel first. The build machine must have the kernel configuration files for each machine in its /usr/src/sys/arch/conf.

On the build machine, build the kernel and world as described in Section 24.5, “Updating FreeBSD from Source”, but do not install anything on the build machine. Instead, install the built kernel on the test machine. On the test machine, mount /usr/src and /usr/obj via NFS. Then, run shutdown now to go to single-user mode in order to install the new kernel and world and run mergemaster as usual. When done, reboot to return to normal multi-user operations.

After verifying that everything on the test machine is working properly, use the same procedure to install the new software on each of the other machines in the build set.

The same methodology can be used for the ports tree. The first step is to share /usr/ports via NFS to all the machines in the build set. To configure /etc/make.conf to share distfiles, set DISTDIR to a common shared directory that is writable by whichever user root is mapped to by the NFS mount. Each machine should set WRKDIRPREFIX to a local build directory, if ports are to be built locally. Alternately, if the build system is to build and distribute packages to the machines in the build set, set PACKAGES on the build system to a directory similar to DISTDIR.

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