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News & Views

Posted by Barbie
on 12th October 2015

Last month CPAN Testers managed to clock up 60 million reports.

Congratulations to Chris Williams (BINGOS) for submitting the 60 millionth CPAN Testers Report. The report itself was a PASS for BenchmarkAnything-Storage-Frontend-Lib and was submitted on 20th September 2015.

Back in March 2014 I predicted the 50 millionth report would arrive in February 2015. I wasn"t too far off, as Chris Williams (again) submitted a PASS report for Map-Tube on 9th January 2015. As such I predict we"ll see the 70 millionth in June 2016. Time will tell.

Posted by Barbie
on 19th September 2015

One of the first offers of help for getting the CPAN Testers server fixed, was from a guy called Doug Bell. Doug impressed me a lot with that first email, and was the only person who I felt really understood what I was asking for in my post about wanting a successor. Not that others didn't grasp that, but the fact Doug was the only person to send me a CV, proved that he got that this wasn't just a small project, or that I wanted to hand over the keys to someone who wasn't going to make a commitment to the project. Doug credentials impressed me, and his ideas and help since being invited to be involved, only proved he wasn't in this for the short-haul.

Many may know Doug as PREACTION, both on CPAN and IRC. Doug is the current leader of Chicago Perl Mongers, which also amused me, particularly once you know I'm based in Birmingham (UK) and Chicago is our twin city in America, and that I'm the leader of Birmingham Perl Mongers. Cue Twilight Zone theme tune! Doug has worked in web development, systems development and understands SysAdmin responsibilities. An ideal person to look after CPAN Testers, as you really do need a bit of everything. He also, perhaps most importantly, understands scale. CPAN Testers is a huge project, not just in terms of the number of reports (nearly 60 million), but the whole eco-system that is driven across the whole project.

I really needed a successor, as my home life and work life have been taking priority in recent years, and I don't want CPAN Testers to suffer because of that. I believe Doug is ideal to take over the project, and I hope you can give Doug the help and support that most have given me over the past 10 years or so. I'm not walking away completely, and will still be around to offer advice and help where needed, but Doug will be the one to drive the project forward from now on. He has some great ideas to help grow and improve the project, and I for one am really looking forward to seeing them come to fruition.

Doug and I have yet to meet, but hopefully the QA Hackathon 2016 will be the first time that I, along with all the other QA enthusiasts, will be able to sit down and discuss/design/plan his ideas for the future.

Welcome Doug, and thank you.

Posted by Barbie
on 18th September 2015

For over a month the CPAN Testers server has been having problems. In most cases the server locked up for no apparent reason. Sometimes it would work for a few days after a reboot, other times it would bearly last 5 minutes.

With the help of a few people, notably Matt S Trout and Doug Bell, we tried to figure out what was going on. I noted that the 'release' table and SQLite database that is created from it, seemed to be the most fragile for the server, as most times when it was touched, the server seemed to lock up within a few seconds. The table and database itself were used for a project Adam Kennedy created several years agao. These days only the bots and crawlers seemed to be interested. As such, I disabled to see whether that would help. It didn't.

We were getting stuck at every corner it seemed. I got Bytemark, our hosts involved to try and check the disks, but all appeared to be running fine. The SATA disks did seem to be very active, but that's normal for us, as there are alot of disk writes to create the sites. As we've had the current server for nearly two years, Bytemark suggest moving to a new server, which has better CPU and RAM capacity, which we've now completed. The server has now been up for over a week, the sites are building and running without a problem, and best yet the reports site is building faster than it has been for a long time.

Although we still have no clear idea why the cpantesters2 kept falling over (it was even falling over when we were rsync-ing the data to cpantesters3, when nothing else was running on either server!), we suspect there is a faulty CPU or RAM module. There isn't much we can do about that, as there isn't a disk check type feature that can find bad blocks and disable them for CPUs and RAM, at least that I'm aware of. So a move to a new server is about all we could have done.

As a result of all this, we have some ideas to help improve the sites and any future rebuilds, so if we do suffer again, we can recover much quicker. I'm currently documenting how the current systems work, and we have at least 5 projects planned to help improve various parts of the eco-system. Some have been long overdue, others are new and fresh ideas to help take CPAN Testers further into the future. There is a lot to learn about scaling with this project ;)

My sincere thanks to MST, Doug, and Chris at Bytemark, for helping out and getting us back online. It's been a frustrating month or so, and I'm just relieved to have the sites back and stable again. My thanks to everyone who stepped up and offered help and support for the project, it really was very much appreciated. Sorry if I didn't get back to you, or weren't able to take advantage of your assistance. Some of the offers of help were taken advantage of, and a couple are planned for future projects to help grow the project. We'll hopefully have more news about them as we start to design and implement them in the coming months. The future looks promising, and it wouldn't be without everyone's support. Thank you.

It's good to be back!

As some may have noticed the CPAN Testers websites are not well. The underlying server is locking up, and as yet the cause is undetermined. I had thought I had cracked it, as the Release Data information that was provided for Adam Kennedy several years ago, seemed to be a key factor in the processes running when the server locked up. As a consequence I disabled the table from all the processes and yesterday all seemed well, with the server responding for nearly 30 hours in a row. Sadly, this faltered this morning at around 02:30 UTC. At the moment I'm checking tables and gettting things back into a usable state again. However, the current situation is not sustainable.

Unfortunately, the server has been unwell for the past month, and as I currently don't have a lot of free time to keep putting it back online, I need someone who is willing to spend time helping to diagnosing the problems, and secondly to take on a lot of the responsibility of CPAN Testers. I'm not disappearing completely, and hope to write more documentation to explain the whole eco-system, so anyone taking on the project in the future has a better idea of what it entails. Most of the work in recent times has been SysAdmin type maintenance work to help keep things ticking over, but occasionally there is coding work to rewrite older parts of the system, and add new features.

Due to the size of the CPAN Testers project, I can appreciate why it might seem a bit daunting, which is why I'm not planning to disappear completely. I'd like help to begin with, particularly for the current problems, but longer term I'd like to pass on the knowledge I have, to someone who wants to improve and develop the sites further. If you feel up for such a challenge, please get in touch.

I have now been involved with CPAN Testers for over 10 years and it is definitely time for some fresh eyes. If you want to know more, please contact me at barbie@cpan.org.

My thanks to Matt S Trout over the past couple of weeks, who has helped to give me some pointers and help identify the problem with the Release Data.

UPDATE 2015-08-31: Many thanks to all those who have emailed offering help. It is great to see several people stepping forward to volunteer their time. At the moment, one person with some great credentials, and experience of sites like CPAN Testers, has stepped forward and is taking a look over the server for me. I don't want to have too many cooks in the mix, so I'm letting him have first crack. More news when we've had a chance to do some more detailed investigation.

Posted by Barbie
on 17th August 2015

It is with great pleasure that we officially announce a new sponsor for the CPAN Testers Project, ABC Startsiden.

ABC Startsiden AS owns, publishes and manages some of the most visited Norwegian web sites including an Internet portal (www.startsiden.no), an online newspaper (www.abcnyheter.no) and a TV-guide (www.meetv.no). ABC Startsiden AS is also Google"s largest search partner in Scandinavia.

ABC Startsiden have long been a long time supporter of Perl, CPAN and CPAN Testers, and we are delighted to have them as one our sponsors.

If you or your company would like to be a sponsor of the project, please get in touch. Alternatively, you can make donations via the CPAN Testers Fund, or Gratipay.

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