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New development builds server 2018-11-13 04:44:03

For those who aren't familiar I've been building most of the binaries on the DRD Team devbuilds site. How that came about is that people were requesting ECWolf development builds, but no one was volunteering to do them so I just setup some scripts and a VM on my Mac and it has been building (mostly) nightly for several years now. Since I already expended the effort to setup an automatic build for ECWolf I ended up absorbing most of the other builds as well.

The build Mac was a base model late 2009 Mac Mini. Shortly after it took on the build server role I upgraded it with 8GB of memory and a 1TB SSHD. Which sped things up a lot, but of course there's only so much a mobile Core 2 Duo can do. Fast forward the end of 2016 and with the release of Mac OS X 10.12 and even though the late 2009 Macbook with identical specs to the Mac Mini is supported, I end up stuck on 10.11 (yes I'm aware there are work arounds to install even Mojave on it). Between the Core 2 just not cutting it anymore by my standards and it no longer being supported by Apple it was time for a new machine, but of course this was right at the time Apple was forgetting that they even made Macs.

Now while I realize it might be a tad ironic since I buy retro computer hardware all the time, I of course couldn't bring myself to buy a 2 year old computer much less a 4 year old one. That's even ignoring the fact that the 2012 models were higher specced. But here we are in November of 2018 and Apple finally released a new Mac Mini, with non-soldered memory no less! So of course I bought one. For those who want to know I got the i7-8700B with 1TB storage, 10G Ethernet (since my NAS and main desktop are 10G), and of course 8GB of RAM since I can upgrade that later.

Here we are 9 years later and once again paying almost as much for the Mac as my desktop and getting 1/3 the power.

Now that I get to basically start over from scratch I'm taking some time to make my build scripts a little more generic. Over the years I've had people ask to see my scripts (mostly since they wanted to help fix some build issues), which wasn't really useful since they were just basic "make it work" style throw away code. This time around I want to get something I can throw up on github, not because they'll be particularly reusable by anyone but rather to provide a way to make what's actually happening more transparent.

I haven't talked about the elephant in the room yet though: Windows. When I initially setup the build server in 2012 I decided to use Windows Server 2012. The primary reason for this was I was hoping to use the server core mode to reduce memory usage, on top of Windows 8 seemingly using less memory than Windows 7. This was especially important since at the time the Mac only had 2GB of RAM. This was fine until Visual Studio 2017 came along and required Windows 8.1. What most people don't know is that Windows 8.0 and 8.1 while treated as the same OS by Microsoft are treated as separate operating systems when we're talking 2012 vs 2012R2. In other words both 2012 and 2012R2 are supported for the same period of time and there's no free upgrade between them. So everyone that was using 2012 for build servers got screwed.

Due to how slow the 2009 Mac Mini was, the fact that the builds were working, and laziness I didn't bother doing anything about it. But now that I have a new machine I need to figure out what I'm going to do for the Windows VM. I would like to try server core again given that Windows containers are a thing, we now have an SSH server on Windows, and I would get to control when updates are applied. But after being screwed over with new Visual Studio versions requiring the "free upgrades" to be applied I'm not sure this route is viable especially given the cost of Windows Server. Might end up just having to use Windows 10, which I don't really have a problem with except that the VM will be suspended most of the time so the auto updates could pose some problems with the builds reliably kicking off at the scheduled time. Still not sure what to do here.

Anyway, with all of that said to pad out this post so that it's more than a few sentences. If anyone was wondering, it's not particularly difficult to setup a PowerPC cross compiler on Mojave. Which actually surprised me since my previous setup involved using compiling and moving an install over from Snow Leopard, but it seems that the XcodeLegacy scripts got a little less quirky since the last time I ran them. Right now it's GCC 6, since that's what I had working on my PowerMac, but I've heard newer does work. Just need to try it, confirm that it works, and update the article. Update 2018/12/10: Confirmed GCC 8.2 is working!

 

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