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MPICH has a relatively recent (as of early 2013) Jenkins continuous integration server setup at This page describes how we use this service in MPICH, how it works, and how we might use it in the future.


Executive Summary

If you don't have time to read the lovely prose below, at least internalize this info:

  • we now have a continuous integration server at
  • this system runs automated build an test runs on regular intervals or whenever a commit is pushed to the revision control system
  • most of the jobs are setup to run automatically whenever code is pushed to
  • the MPICH jobs are unsurprisingly named "mpich" or "mpich-SOMETHING"
  • build+test results are sent to Click here to sign up for this list if you want to receive build status emails.
  • configuration is all done through the web interface (no more cron jobs!)

The Details


What are we even trying to accomplish by using Jenkins or any other continuous integration system?

  • reduce developer time and effort spent running tests by hand
  • reduce developer time spent fiddling with our existing automated testing systems
  • tighten the automated testing feedback loop from O(1 day) to O(1 hour) or better
  • improve accountability for "breaking the build" (low priority goal, given the current team)
  • improve software (MPICH) quality in several dimensions:
    • ensure correctness on multiple platforms (Linux, OS X, etc.)
    • ensure correctness with multiple compilers (GNU, Clang, Intel, PGI, etc.)
    • ensure correctness with multiple configure options and debugging levels
    • prevent performance regressions
  • track historical software quality information further back than just "last night"
  • reduce average build times, partly by tracking this information historically

Some of this is handled by the existing Nightly Tests infrastructure, though the "old nightlies" have a number of problems:

  • They are fragile. They are a cobbled together series of numerous shell scripts run as cron jobs by several different users on the team. It can be very confusing to track the entire flow of a test run.
  • They are not flexible. Adding a new test suite or configuration can be difficult.
  • They only run nightly.
  • They require the MCS NFS system.
  • They provide no way to suppress known test issues without completely disabling tests or platforms.
  • State from one build or day of testing is not always correctly cleaned up, leading to false positives and false negatives in some cases.

The short term goal is to augment the "old nightlies". In the longer term it would be good to replace it with an all-Jenkins solution, provided that it remains stable and can provide us all important features that are currently offered by the "old nightlies".

The MPICH Jenkins CI Server and General Jenkins Overview

Visit to access the Jenkins server. You should log in with your MCS username and password.

General Overview

After logging in, on the home page you'll see a list of menu options on the left-hand side with an "executor status" table listed below that. In the main central/right-hand panel you'll see a list of jobs which you are able to view. I (goodell@) do not know how to filter this list automatically at this stage. There is a concept of "views", but that doesn't seem to quite solve the problem in general. Look at the list for jobs named "mpich" or "mpich-SOMETHING".

Helpful Jenkins Terminology
job (or sometimes "project") 
a logically related set of operations which should be executed in order to test a particular piece of software
a particular execution of a job
the working directory where a build executes
master (or sometimes "server") 
the Jenkins server which orchestrates builds, reports results, and manages configuration
slave (or "build executor") 
a host on which builds actually execute (that is, the job actions run on that host)
build status 
one of STABLE, UNSTABLE, or FAILED (colors are right for our server, STABLE is blue on stock Jenkins servers)

In order to control what happens in a build, you need to find your way to the "configure" panel for a given job. If you don't have the right permissions for the job, any link related to the job will probably yield an HTTP 404 for you.

Job Naming & Management

To better manage the Jenkins jobs that are created for different purposes, we define following standard views for MPICH-related jobs. Any new job should be added into the appropriate view. Because Jenkins does not provide good filter/categorization functionality in the default All view, we also define job naming rules.

  • Including nightly testing jobs for MPICH master branch / CH3 channel.
  • The job name is required to start with "mpich-master-ch3-".
  • Including nightly testing jobs for MPICH master branch / CH4 channel.
  • The job name is required to start with "mpich-master-ch4-".
  • Including tarball jobs for all nightly tests.
  • Including nightly ABI testing jobs for MPICH master branch and stable release.
  • Including nightly testing jobs for MPICH stable release / CH3 channel.
  • The job name is required to start with "mpich-stable-".
  • Including special testing jobs for MPICH release, e.g., benchmark experiments.
  • Including per-commit testing jobs for MPICH master branch / CH3 channel. It is used for patch review.
  • The job name is required to start with "mpich-review-ch3-".
  • Including per-commit testing jobs for MPICH master branch / CH4 channel. It is used for patch review.
  • The job name is required to start with "mpich-review-ch4-".
  • Including weekly jobs for all MPICH branches, e.g. valgrind.
Including maitanance related jobs.
Including BreadBoard slurm related jobs.
Including testing jobs for external libraries, e.g., libfabric.

Apart from the above standard views, we have two general views to manage temporary or private jobs. All these jobs must be self-managed. Specifically, the job owner is responsible for deleting it once finished his/her work.

  • Including any jobs that are temporary used and related to MPICH. For example, a temporary job can be created for fixing a bug in MPICH.
  • The job name is required to start with "temp-".
  • Including user private jobs for any other purpose.
  • The job name is required to start with "[username]-", e.g., jack-* for user Jack's job.

Build Slave Details

Jenkins utilizes BreadBoard hardware for build testing. All nodes are in the domain. The platforms, Jenkins node names, and hostnames are:

Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit with IB and MXM ib64-1 ib64-2 ib64-3 ib64-4 ib64-5 ib64-6 ib64-7 ib64-8 ib64-9
bb93 bb73 bb72 bb75 bb66 bb65 bb76 bb87 bb88
ib64-10 ib64-11 ib64-12 ib64-13 ib64-14 ib64-15 ib64-16 ib64-17 ib64-18
bb94 bb85 bb74 bb67 bb79 bb80 bb84 bb82 bb68
ib64-19 ib64-20 ib64-21 ib64-22 ib64-23 ib64-24 ib64-25 ib64-26
bb90 bb91 bb92 pending bb70 bb71 bb77 bb78
Ubuntu 12.04 32-bit ubuntu32-1 ubuntu32-2 ubuntu32-3 ubuntu32-4
bb53 bb63 bb62 bb64
FreeBSD 9.1 64-bit freebsd64-1 freebsd64-2
bb56 bb57
FreeBSD 9.1 32-bit freebsd32-1 freebsd32-2
bb52 bb59
OSX 10.8.5 64-bit osx-1 osx-2 osx-3
mpich-mac1 mpich-mac2 mpich-mac3
Solaris 11.3 (x86) solaris-1

If for some reason you wanted to log into these machines, use the 'autotest' user. In the /sandbox/jenkins-ci/workspace/ directory you will find a forest of directories leading you to the configuration Jenkins displayed. For example, /mpich-review-tcp/compiler/gnu/jenkins_configure/strict/label/solaris/ has the working directory for the gnu,debug,solaris version.

Powercycling nodes

If for some reason a node has become unresponsive and does not return after a graceful reboot command, the pm command can be used from bblogin to hard powercycle nodes. The format of a pm command is, for example:

 pm -c bb72

SLURM Cluster

SLURM is an open-source workload manager designed for Linux clusters of all sizes. The objective is to let SLURM manage all build slaves and schedule the test jobs that are submitted by Jenkins. The SLURM has different partitions (queues) for different sets of nodes. All SLURM partitions are:

Partition Nodes
ib64 (default) ib64-[1-26]
ib64-pgi ib64-[17-18]
ubuntu32 ubuntu32-[1-4]
freebsd64 freebsd64-[1-2]
freebsd32 freebsd32-[1-2]

Note that the ib64-pgi partition is only for limiting the number of concurrent PGI tests.

Running Jobs through SLURM

Login & Compiling

The login node is You need to use your MCS account to login. You can also use the login node to compile your codes. Do not run large, long, multi-threaded, parallel, or CPU-intensive jobs on the login node.

Interactive Jobs

Interactive jobs can run on compute nodes. You can start interactive jobs to run shell on a compute node.

$  srun --exclusive -N1 --pty bash

This will submit an interactive job that requires one dedicated node to the default partition (ib64). Once the resource is available, the a bash will be started on the allocated node and available for your use.

The default time limit of a job on SLURM is set to 2 hours. In case more time is needed for the interactive job, please set it using the -t option. The following example starts an interactive job with a time limit of 3 hours.

$ srun --exclusive -t 3:00:00 -N1 --pty bash

To start a job on a partition other than ib64, please set it using the -p option. The following example starts an interactive job on ubuntu32 partition.

$ srun --exclusive -p ubuntu32 -N1 --pty bash

To quit your interactive job:

$  exit

Note that the --exclusive option ensures the node is only used by the interactive job.

For FreeBSD Nodes

Since FreeBSD nodes do not have MCS accounts and do not support --pty, we need an alternative way for interactive session on FreeBSD node. The following example is using salloc to obtain resource allocation on a FreeBSD node and start SSH session with helper script slurm-ssh. You can run this one-liner with any account. It will login to the FreeBSD node as autotest after the resource allocation is granted.

# Assuming you are on bblogin node
# Getting resource allocation and start ssh session
$ salloc -p freebsd64 -t 160 slurm-ssh
Batch Jobs

To run a batch job, you need to create a SLURM job script.

#SBATCH -n 20
#SBATCH -t 10:00
#SBATCH -p ib64

mpiexec -n20 ./cpi
exit 0

Once the script is created, you can submit it:

$  sbatch <job_script_name>

For both interactive jobs and batch jobs, you can specify the number of nodes (-N) and the number of processes (-n). You processes will be evenly distributed on the allocated nodes. Use "-t" option to set the time limit of your job. Use "-p" to select the partition.

Jenkins nightly jobs

The "nightly" jobs are triggered when there is an update in the master branch before midnight. In the "nightly" view, there are some dependencies between jobs. The dependency means that some jobs are triggered when the dependent upstream job is successfully completed. The following illustrates dependencies between jobs:

       ## common jobs across channels ##
              --> mpich-master-abi-prolog --> mpich-master-abi
       ## jobs testing CH3 channel         ##
              --> armci-mpi-master-ch3
              --> mpich-master-ch3-coverity
              --> mpich-master-ch3-freebsd
              --> mpich-master-ch3-mxm
              --> mpich-master-ch3-ofi
              --> mpich-master-ch3-osx
              --> mpich-master-ch3-portals4
              --> mpich-master-ch3-solaris
              --> mpich-master-ch3-special-tests
              --> mpich-master-ch3-ubuntu
              --> mpich-master-ch3-valgrind
       ## jobs testing CH4 channel        ##
              --> armci-mpi-master-ch4
              --> mpich-master-ch4-coverity
              --> mpich-master-ch4-freebsd
              --> mpich-master-ch4-ofi
              --> mpich-master-ch4-osx
              --> mpich-master-ch4-portals4
              --> mpich-master-ch4-solaris
              --> mpich-master-ch4-special-tests
              --> mpich-master-ch4-ubuntu
              --> mpich-master-ch4-ucx
              --> mpich-master-ch4-valgrind

'A --> B' indicates that the right job B is dependent on the left job A. For example, mpich-master-abi-prolog depends on mpich-master-tarball, and its build is triggered only when the build of mpich-master-tarball is successfully done.

mpich-master-tarball creates a tarball of the MPICH master branch using, and all downstream jobs, which are dependent on mpich-master-tarball, use the tarball. Therefore, the MPICH master repository is pulled once in mpich-master-tarball, and is not executed in most jobs except mpich-master-tarball.

Pull Request testing details [NEW]

There are several jenkins jobs that can be triggered from a pull request on the MPICH github repo. Jobs are triggered by using a special phrase in the comments on the pull request. Only comments by members of the pmodels github organization will be scanned for comment phrases. Note: the comment is not the same thing as the pull request description. Issue the pull request, then make a comment on it to trigger the build.

For CH3 testing:

  • The following phrases trigger mpich-review-ch3-tcp:
  • The following phrases trigger mpich-review-ch3-mxm:
  • The following phrases trigger mpich-review-ch3-portals4:
  • The following phrases trigger mpich-review-ch3-sock:
  • The following phrases trigger mpich-review-ch3-ofi:
  • The following trigger mpich-review-ch3-armci-mpi with the default ch3:nemesis:tcp netmod of MPICH:

For CH4 testing:

  • The following phrases trigger mpich-review-ch4-ofi:
  • The following phrases trigger mpich-review-ch4-ucx:
  • The following phrases trigger mpich-review-ch4-portals4:
  • The following phrases trigger mpich-review-ch4-armci-mpi with the ch4:ofi netmod of MPICH:

Scripts for Jenkins

In order to ensure the consistency of the scripts and the clarity of their history, the scripts for Jenkins job scripts are maintained in a dedicated repo, If you need to change these scripts, please follow the git workflow of MPICH and have someone else review your patch before pushing it.

Build Scripts

There is a set of build scripts for existing Jenkins jobs: - mpich-master-abi-prolog        - mpich-master-abi    - mpich-tarball      - All armci jobs            - All other jobs

The is the general script for most of the test jobs. It takes different configuration and runtime options to run different tests. Before adding a dedicated script for a specific configuration or runtime option, you should consider adding the option to

Jenkins Bootstrap Script

The current setup of Jenkins requires a bootstrap script to invoke the test-worker scripts in the a SLURM node. All Jenkins jobs is started checking git repo to a local directory in /sandbox on bblogin1 or bblogin2. The bootstrap script is responsible for four things:

  1. creating workspace on SLURM node.
  2. copying work repo from bblogin node to SLURM node.
  3. starting test-worker script (srun)
  4. cleanup upon completion

The bblogin node will obtain the SLURM allocation and run the bootstrap script using salloc. The reason for using such a convoluted way to start job is to avoid using NFS (home directory) as the workspace, which has been proven to be problematic in Jenkins.

It is recommended to create a new job by copying an existing one in Jenkins. In this way, the new job will automatically copy the following bootstrap script. The only revisions needed for the new job are:

  1. line 6: BUILD_SCRIPT
  2. line 15: BUILD_SCRIPT options
  3. line 25: SLURM job options
1 : #!/bin/zsh -xe
2 :
3 : cat > << "EOF"
4 : #!/bin/zsh -xe
5 :
6 : BUILD_SCRIPT="./jenkins-scripts/"
7 : TARBALL="mpich.tar"
8 :
9 : tar --exclude=${TARBALL} -cf ${TARBALL} * .*
10: REMOTE_WS=$(srun --chdir=/tmp mktemp -d /sandbox/jenkins.tmp.XXXXXXXX)
11: sbcast ${TARBALL} "$REMOTE_WS/${TARBALL}"
12: srun --chdir="$REMOTE_WS" tar xf "$REMOTE_WS/$TARBALL" -C "$REMOTE_WS"
14: srun --chdir="$REMOTE_WS" \
15:    ${BUILD_SCRIPT} -b ${GIT_BRANCH} -h ${REMOTE_WS} -c $compiler -o $jenkins_configure -q ${label} -m mxm
17: srun --chdir=/tmp rm -rf "$REMOTE_WS"
18: rm ${TARBALL}
20: exit 0
21: EOF
23: chmod +x
25: salloc -J "${JOB_NAME}:${BUILD_NUMBER}:${GIT_BRANCH}" -p ${label} -N 1 --nice=1000 -t 120 ./

XFAIL Scripts

A set of scripts is provided for setting xfail at build time.

The build script invokes the script which set the xfail based on the settings in xfail.conf. The xfail.conf file enables setting conditional xfails. The syntax of the xfail setting is:

[jobname] [compiler] [jenkins_configure] [netmod] [queue] [sed of XFAIL]

Currently, it supports five types of conditions:

  1. jobname, the name of the Jenkins jobs, partial matches are allowed. For example, mxm matches both mpich-master-mxm and mpich-review-mxm.
  2. compiler, the name of compiler. For example, gnu, intel.
  3. jenkins_configure, the option for ./configure. For example, default, debug.
  4. netmod', the type of netmod. For example, mxm and portals4.
  5. queue, the type of machine for testing. Available types are ib64, ubuntu32, freebsd32, freebsd64, solaris, osx.

Example for xfail.conf:

# xfail alltoall tests for all portals4 jobs
portals4 * * * * sed -i "s+\(^alltoall .*\)+\1 xfail=ticket0+g" test/mpi/threads/pt2pt/testlist
# xfail when the job is "mpich-master-mxm" or "mpich-review-mxm", and the jenkins_configure is "debug".
mxm gnu debug * * sed -i "s+\(^alltoall .*\)+\1 xfail=ticket0+g" test/mpi/threads/pt2pt/testlist

Possible Future Uses of Jenkins in MPICH

  • run the other test suites as well (MPICH1, Intel, C++, LLNL I/O)
  • automated performance regression testing, including historical performance trend plotting
  • packaging our nightly snapshot tarballs
  • packaging our final release tarballs
  • write a script to filter TAP results for more sophisticated xfail criteria, possibly based on machine or test environment (e.g., exclude bcast2 failures due to MPIEXEC_TIMEOUT on shared machines)
  • gate pushes to origin on 100% clean tests
  • automated builds on platforms that are harder to integrate with the old nightlies (BG/Q, niagara machines, etc.)
  • multi-machine tests
  • build an extreme feedback device (google for more ideas) :)
  • email notification for mpich-review tests (with test results)
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