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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 [email protected] 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.

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 ([email protected]) 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.

Build Slave Details

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

bb87, bb88 - Ubuntu 12.04 64-bit on bare hardware.
ub32-slave - Ubuntu 12.04 32-bit VM
bb95       - FreeBSD 9.1 64-bit on bare hardware
fb32-slave - FreeBSD 9.1 32-bit VM
frisbee    - OS X 10.8.3 Mac Mini

Jenkins mpich-review details

Branches pushed to mpich-review can be tested through jenkins. The following branch formats are accepted for testing:


A branch of the form jenkins-gnu-ub-all-foo will run tests with the GNU compiler on Ubuntu (32 and 64 bit) with all configure options.

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) :)