Last night Trent Nelson dropped a friendly note to the python-committers mailing list, you can see the full text here. He and others (including donations from various companies) have put together a network of machines with various operating systems aimed at giving various projects wider (and complete, hooray logins!) access to platforms we normally don't have access to in addition to the ones we have, but don't have login access to.
To quote Trent:
And that's when it hit me. Buildbots are fine when everything is running smoothly, but nothing compares to actually having access to a system when you're trying to debug something.
So, I thought to myself, why not buy a couple of clunky old boxes off eBay and donate them to the PSF, such that all developers had access to them? I dropped a note to Guido and Neal, they put me in touch with Titus, who had just accepted a position at Michigan State, and, well...
Ten months, seven trips to MSU, six blown fuses and about $60,000 later, I'm proud to introduce you all to Snakebite: The Open Network! A network of around 37-ish servers of all different shapes and sizes, spread over three sites, specifically geared towards the needs of open source projects like Python.
Every CPython, Jython, IronPython and PyPy committer will have access to every development server on the network. I've also extended the offer to prominent Python projects like Django and Twisted.
Eventually, I'll invite other open source projects to participate (Apache, Subversion, MySQL, Postgres, etc), but the network is my gift to All Things Python, first and foremost, so Python projects will always get preferential treatment.
Trent and other have managed to begin work on scratching an itch I know a lot of us have felt. Just for multiprocessing alone, I have to maintain a small farm of VMware images (today I'm adding fbsd and opensolaris) to do bug fixes and development on.
Having a much larger, dedicated buildbot farm with login privileges is going to be awesome. Given that they're expanding this to other projects as well is just icing on a delicious, delicious cake (mmm, cake).
I had considered doing something like this myself; but given I don't have access to cheap hosting, or hardware - that's sort of makes it impossible. I had sketched up a plan to get an Apple 1U machine and throw virtualbox/vmware on it and host as many OSes and accounts as possible (OS/X is currently the only OS without representation in the machines currently listed).
Really, this is fantastic and the work and time that's gone into putting this together as well as the donations companies like HP, Microsoft and others have made is simple great.
As Trent notes in his email - they're run out of physical room to host stuff right now, but I have to imagine that as word spreads more companies and people will gladly donate time and resource to what is really an excellent project. VPS hosts could probably also get in the game in time as well.
This is just awesome.