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Trisquel 9.0 development plans

Just as we release Trisquel 8.0, the development of the next version begins! Following the naming suggestions thread I've picked Etiona, which sounds good and has the fewest search results.

We currently do our development in a rented dedicated server in France, and although it is functional it has many performance and setup issues. It has 32 gigs of RAM, which may sound like plenty but stays below the sweet spot where you can create big enough ramdisks to compile large packages without having to ever write to disk during the build process, greatly improving performance. It also has only 8 cores and rather slow disks. The good news is that the FSF has generously decided to host a much larger dedicated build server for us, which will allow us to scale up operations. The new machine will have fast replicated disks, lots of RAM and two 12 core CPUs.

Along with renewing the hardware, we need to revamp the software build infrastructure. Currently the development server runs a GitLab instance, Jenkins and pbuilder-based build jails. This combination was a big improvement from the custom made scripts of early releases, but it has some downsides that have been removed by sbuild. Sbuild is lighter and faster and has better crash recovery and reporting.

I will investigate whether we still need Jenkins or we can replace it with GitLab's CI modules, which should make for better integration. On top of that, sbuild makes it easier to do cross-compilation for ARM and other architectures. This bigger server will also have more capacity to host services like, which is currently in need of a revamp.

Work on the build infrastructure should be done with the target of facilitating volunteer contributions. As it stands now, merge requests require my review and approval, which has proven to be a bottleneck. A system that allows volunteers to approve each other would speed up development and grow our community. The planned improvements to the CI setup would allow for contributors to easily run build tests on the development server.