[OpenWrt-Devel] openwrt build system costs: support of or foundation over?

Dave Taht dave.taht at gmail.com
Mon Dec 7 13:51:59 EST 2015

I am still not sure what prpl is for. Nor, what happens to donated
funds, if any...

I have long wanted some non-profit org to serve as an intermediary
between the profit centered corps and the developers. I don't think
SPI or prpl is doing this right. Linaro sort of used to...

There needs to be some sort of translation between the three parties
of real needs. A corp is used to paying X for Y, in particular, not
fuzzy donations...

As sort of a test case for what I'm trying to explain, there are a few
people that contribute towards keeping the Continuous Integration and
build system of openwrt up and running, both in terms of hardware, and

Many have been doing it longer than I have, but for most of the last 4
years a lot of the visible hardware came from me (snapon, huchra,

For 14 months of that, courtesy of a google cloud grant that expired
last year, I was running 6(?) boxes at a cost of about $1750/month, +
2 donated boxes from isc.org - and builds popped out in half a day for
everything.  I liked it....

I had to shut all but one machine off after that grant expired, and
isc has (sadly) just shut down their free non-profit hosting service
also... huchra is nearly gone, snapon has moved to sweden behind a fw
where it can't act as a host...

... and recently I see that the lack of enough machines in the build
system was annoying enough to at least one party to start up a new

... but - dang it! -  the benefits of CI for openwrt should be
*obvious to everyone that uses it*. Especially including some big
corps for which the opex of a few thousand dollars a month isn't even

HP supports debian's build cluster, for example.

Now, of late, I've had a devil of a time keeping the lights on. My
contribution to the cluster costs me $220/month that I would rather
spend on... food, and fixing wifi in general, etc [1]

So... I'd like it if there was some org(s) were paying these costs
(and for everyone else contributing a box themselves) rather than me.
That is a "support of" sort of thing, where control remains in the
hands of engineers that care. (In fact, I don't have to care, travis
takes care of the problems, I just pay the opex bill)

If some org were to "take over" this responsibility, the control slips
to that org - gains management - and other BS - and the CI might not
get done as well.

If some org were to however, take a wishlist of existing costs from
existing developers, turn that into a budget, present that to willing
commercial orgs, and turn that around to the requesting dev (and
publicly), then everyone's lives would be better. X for Y with the
help of Z.

Mine, and (I think) most of openwrt folk's resistance to
"organizations" comes from the top down attempt at exerting control in
exchange for money.


Certainly the build system could get done better! I was very happy
seeing benchmarks go by with how much faster they could be done... and
doing that right does involve human resources that might want to get
paid also... the main reason why gb-10 still exists is because it was
weeks of time to get it running in the first place, and easy to
replicate, and I'd hate to lose those invested weeks were more grant
money to arrive...

Now: I have no intention of shutting down gb-10, but I came within
hours of having to do so, last month. Got saved by a shuttleworth
flash grant...

At the moment I am just sending the personal - not a single !@#!
corporate - donations I get at the below url to keep it running, and
not thinking about it very hard - but I just reached for some spare
cash to buy a new board, and came up empty.

it's the meta problem, of keeping infrastructure beneath the devs, in
general, with a minimal amount of overstructure on top, that's bugging
me today.

thx for listening. ideas?

Dave Täht
Keeping the lights on for open routers
[1] https://www.patreon.com/dtaht?ty=h
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