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Snakebite network readied for open source projects

By Paul Krill
February 11, 2009 12:00 PM ET

InfoWorld - Developers soon will have a network to go to for developing principally open source projects and testing their software on multiple platforms.

The planned Snakebite network is intended to "provide developers of open source projects complete and unrestricted access to as many different platforms, operating systems, architectures, compilers, devices, databases, tools and applications that they may need in order to optimally develop their software," according to the Snakebite Web site, which also welcomes visitors to "the future of open source development.".

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The brainchild of Trent Nelson, a committer on the Python language project, Snakebite still is under development; it is expected to formally debut in a month or so.

"The key principal of Snakebite is that it's an open network, and the concept is intended [to] parallel the very notion of open source," offering projects unlimited access to hardware and platforms that developers otherwise would not have available, Nelson said.

Snakebite serves as a centralized server farm, hosted at two sites at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Two servers are also hosted at a data center in Chicago.

"I was basically looking for somewhere to host machines with free power and Internet [access]," and without a lot of red tape, Nelson said. The project started out with Nelson himself purchasing computers and letting people log onto them. He estimated spending US$20,000 to $25,000 during the first month of the project last spring.

"It became very apparent that the effort required in getting a network of as many different OSes as I would like to was not a trivial activity," said Nelson.

While centered on open source, Snakebite also is expected to allow projects for commercially developed software, although commercial projects may need to pay a fee to use the network, Nelson said. But the goal of the project is not commercially oriented. "My aim is to do something fun," he said.

Developers, for example, could test a patch to see if it runs on multiple platforms. Interested parties, though, must meet certain criteria. Developer collaboration also will be allowed. 

Technologies including Linux, Windows and Unix variants, such as IBM AIX and Sun Solaris, are supported on Snakebite. Some tech companies have contributed, including Microsoft, which has provided Microsoft Developer Network license access to Windows server OSes. HP contributed some Itanium servers.

Currently, Snakebite features 37 servers talking to each other via a single domain. "It's going to be the epitome of a heterogeneous network," said Nelson.

Snakebite's overseers are looking to open up the network to all things Python and more. Supported Python implementations will include CPython, Jython, PyPy, IronPython and stack-less Python. Developers on these projects will have full access to Snakebite.

Also sought for Snakebite is support for open source projects like the Apache Web server and MySQL and Postgres databases.

Reprinted with permission from InfoWorld. Story copyright 2012 InfoWorld Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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