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How and When do I use coshell for distributed builds?

What is coshell?

By using coshell nmake can distribute jobs to other machines in your network, allowing you to utilize free CPU time on multiple machines for distributed builds.

With this feature nmake can take advantage of extra processors within an homogeneous local area network by:

Supported Platforms

coshell is not supported on all platforms. If there is no nmake_root/bin/coshell command in your nmake distribution then coshell is not supported for your machine.

Should I use coshell or -j?

When you need to decrease your build times always try the -jn (jobs) option first. The jobs option tells nmake to execute n parallel jobs on the same machine. This gives you parallel building without coshell's overhead of scheduling and remotly executing jobs, not to mention the coshell setup requirments. However, if your build machine is too busy for -j to be effective coshell can be used to distribute parallel jobs to other machines in your local network.

coshell Pre-setup Checklist

Before attempting to use coshell the following items must be done.

Note: "machines" refers to machines in your network which will be used for distributed nmake jobs.

  1. The clocks on all machines must be in sync. (Out of sync clocks will result in inconsistent date stamps causing unnecessary recompiles later.)
  2. Mount the nmake product directory and the build file systems on all machines.
  3. ksh88i or later must be installed on all machines.
  4. Screen locking and screen saver tools must have low CPU usage. (If they use too much CPU then those machines will be busy and jobs will not be sent to them.)
  5. The same version of the OS and compiler tools must be available on all machines. All machines should be identical in this regard. This is the only way to guarantee the compiled output from the machines are consistent with each other.
  6. Coshell must be able to rlogin to client machines without being prompted for a password.
  7. There can be no interactive prompts in the .profile on the client machines for the user running coshell.
  8. nmake_root/lib/ssd must have the same owned as the nmake_root/share directory.
  9. Check Makefiles for ordering issues. Make sure directories and targets are built in the correct order and "-" is used appropriately to make sure certain prerequisites are built before their targets. For more information see page 10-13 of the nmake User's Guide.

coshell Setup

The following items must be done to setup the coshell environment. For more information see page 10-19 of the nmake User's Guide.

  1. Run the nmake_root/bin/genshare and nmake_root/bin/genlocal commands once on host machine.
  2. Edit the generated file named local.
  3. Setup shell environment:
    • export COSHELL=coshell
    • export NPROC=<number of concurrent jobs>
    • export SHELL=ksh (88i version or later)
    • export FPATH=nmake_root/fun:$FPATH
    • export CS_MOUNT_LOCAL=<tmp directory accessible by all machines>
    • PATH must contain the location of the coshell command (located in nmake_root/bin)

Reading coshell Output

Using coshell means nmake jobs are being processed in parallel. Unfortunately, the output from these jobs also comes in parallel, which means the output from the concurrent jobs will be mixed together. For example, the output from a particular compile may not follow directly after its compile command line. This makes it difficult to read the build output, especially when tracing errors, since it is hard to match command line executions with the corresponding output and errors.

Release lu3.2 introduces a new Output Serialization feature. The job of this feature is to organize this mixed-up output on the fly, thus making the build output from concurrent jobs much more meaningful. Releases prior to lu3.2 do not have this capibility, there is no known solution to this problem for earlier releases. See the lu3.2 Release Notes for more information.


More Information

For more complete information on coshell refer to the coshell(1) man page and Chapter 10 of the nmake User's Guide, which includes a sample coshell session.

Last Update: Friday,12-Aug-2016 10:44:48 EDT