[distcc] distcc with LVS and stuff

Martin Pool mbp at samba.org
Mon Sep 9 05:10:00 GMT 2002


On 28 Aug 2002, Tim Small <tim at digitalbrain.com> wrote:

> A central server (big, reasonably quick disks, backups etc) hosts all of 
> the developer home directories, and serves them via NFS.  gcc is wrapped 
> by a perl script, which makes an ssh connection (on a specific port) to 
> a machine which runs LVS and load balances these ssh connections over 
> all various boxes - mainly developer desktop machines.  LVS load 
> balances (with low latency) the tcp connections, and farms them out to 
> machines on a weighted round-robin basis (e.g. a dual CPU athlon has a 
> higher priority than a P3-700).  The home directories are shared to all 
> the build boxes via NFS, and the clocks are kept in sync with NTP.  If 
> machines fall ill, this is noticed by the load balancer (using 'mon', 
> and a couple more perl scripts), and the machine is temporarily 
> withdrawn from the load balanced pool.

Can you let us know how distcc performs by comparison?

> http://www.linuxvirtualserver.org/
> http://www.kernel.org/software/mon/
> Bad points with the current setup:
> . Central server has become a bottleneck, as number of developers have 
> increased
> . NFS makes it a bit brittle (but then mon takes care of this)
> . SSH connection overhead is not insignificant (could be swapped for rsh 
> with little reduction in security, as NFS sucks anyway) however it is 
> much better with blowfish than the default 3des!
> . Have to make sure all boxes have the same headers etc. installed 
> (actually pretty easy, we use Debian, and our own devel package in our 
> apt respository pulls in all necessary stuff automagically)
> The big plan:
> . Alter our build scheme to put all object files on developers local 
> disks, reading the source files over NFS, thus taking the make (we use 
> our own perl based make scheme which parallelises very well, but can 
> chew CPU a bit), link, and dep steps off the central box

Why not just use CVS (or whatever) and put the source on local disks
as well?  disk is cheap.

> . Use distcc with LVS to gain global (i.e. from many client boxes, and 
> different users) load balancing, and weighting to servers (most servers 
> are dual CPU, and the range of speeds vary quite a lot) - I've tested 
> this briefly, and it seems to work OK

For the reasons discussed in the manual I ma not sure if LVS will be
able to balance distcc load very well.  But perhaps it will. 

> . Whack all insecure traffic (including NFS and distcc) on a seperate 
> VLAN to keep them away from less trusted hosts

Using a smart ethernet switch?

> . Buy one of these http://www.tyan.com/products/html/thundergche.html 
> for the central server if it all still sucks ;o)
> Here are a couple of things I'm uncertain about - any feedback would be 
> cool:
> . Are there likely to be any problems with the use of LVS?

I don't know for sure, but from a quick look at the web site it looks
like it should work fine.

> . We also use ccache, and I'm concerned about leaving the cache 
> directory on NFS - is this likely to cause problems with locking,

You'd have to ask tridge.

> I'm also wondering how soon before this becomes the bottleneck - any
> thoughts on a way of having a multi-level cache with additional
> caches on the disks of the local build machines?

Yes, people have talked about it.  There are two approaches: either
look in several directories, some of which might be on NFS, or use a
custom network protocol.  Either could work.

> . Is there any easy way to get the distcc server to block, rather than 
> taking on extra jobs over a certain number - we compile some c++ source 
> files which make g++ chew RAM quite heavily, all the build boxes have at 
> least 512M, but they can start grinding when simultaneously compiling 4 
> big files and running X etc - maybe there are inetd replacements that 
> have this functionality already?

xinetd will do that.  distccd will probably get it as a built in
feature soon.

> As an aside, it seems to me that it wouldn't be very much work to get 
> distcc working with "fsh" http://www.lysator.liu.se/fsh/ to make it a 
> lot more secure without much overhead?  Of course, this isn't of any use 
> for us as it would pretty much break the LVS load balancing..

Yes, something like fsh could work well, but it may be slow.  Or you
can just port forward from localhost.


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