Traditionally, developers in distributions like NetBSD merge 3rd party sources upstream once in a while with major release bumps, like switching from GCC 4.8.x to GCC 5.x. The time frame between the releases can be several months or a few years. This appears as a one-time effort from time to time, however with each software revision the code starts to rot on undermaintained targets. This results in local compatibility patches, which are rarely ready or applicable for upstream and thus detached from the development progress. Upstream developers tend to assume that minimal activity from such projects is a result of having no users and not verifying new code on them.
A good way to improve the situation and ensure quality of software that would shorten developers’ time and cost, to deepen relations between NetBSD developers and upstream 3rd party software is to attach a build cluster node within the testing infrastructure.
The shortcoming of this approach is that it requires hardware, bandwidth and admin maintenance. The advantage is closer and better support for the NetBSD platform directly from the 3rd party software developers and the immediate detection of regressions, further reducing development time.
After the process of restoration the NetBSD support within the GDB and binutils projects, there is a new member in the GDB’s cluster farm that verifies correct build status on NetBSD/amd64. This bot is hosted within The NetBSD Foundation’s internal infrastructure.
The immediate follow up is to turn on –enable-targets=all, which will build all the available backends. Only a few more patches are needed to achieve this milestone.
Next steps involve extending this bot to verify other projects within the shared binutils-gdb repository. This includes GNU binutils itself, ld, gold (after adding appropriate platform support), gas, sim and gprof.
The ultimate goal is to enable execution of all tests for each new binutils-gdb commit in the upstream repository. This must be preceded by accomplishing the ongoing contracted task sponsored by The NetBSD Foundation – to port the LLDB debugger to NetBSD, as the LLVM debugger opens a door for new software from the same field.
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Author: Kamil Rytarowski
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