Facebook in Oregon: Sure there’s Prineville, but did you know there’s the OSU Open Source Lab too?

Facebook is still very interested and supportive of the open source community. A significant contribution to the Oregon State University Open Source Lab just goes to prove that. Introducing Supercell.

[HTML1]When it comes to Facebook and Oregon, the data center in Prineville gets an awful lot of attention. As well it should. Based on reports, it’s changing the town—and potentially the state—for the better.

But where else is Facebook having an effect in Oregon? You might be surprised to learn that for an organization that gets continual press about its market valuation, the Facebook crew is still very interested and supportive of the open source community. (I mean, it is a gigantic PHP app, after all.) And the latest effort—a significant contribution to the Oregon State University Open Source Lab—just goes to prove that. Introducing Supercell.

Testing is a key component of application development. But building out the infrastructure to test large scale applications can be daunting—if not downright impossible for many companies. For open source projects, that hurdle can be insurmountable.

Facebook was faced with this issue for their internal open source projects. And they just happen to be a company that has the kind of capital at their disposal to solve the problem. But the folks at Facebook thought, instead of simply building something for themselves, why not build something that they could share?

That thinking led to Supercell, a new buildout at the OSU OSL that provides a testing cluster for open source projects.

While companies generally have dedicated resources available for this task, the same isn’t always true for open source projects. Obtaining the necessary hardware for testing infrastructure can pose a challenge, without even taking into account the resources required for hosting and managing the systems.

Recently the need for this came around when we were looking at building testing infrastructure for our own open source projects. Instead of building and hosting something in-house, we decided to donate hardware and funding for development to the OSU Open Source Lab.

So what does Supercell offer, exactly? Here’s how OSU OSL describes Supercell.

We have created this cluster for use by open source projects who need to run software tests regularly but may not have access to the appropriate hardware or the funds to pay for outsourcing this service. Supercell will also allow projects to do manual testing to verify that a submitted patch has actually fixed the intended bug or to determine that their software package runs correctly on a particular operating system or distribution. The service will also allow projects to test their software in a large cluster using several VMs concurrently. Supercell will also provide temporary space for projects who would like to test drive new features in their code base or on their website.

Pretty cool. And potentially incredibly helpful to any number of open source projects out there.

Supercell is currently in alpha. It will be available for general use by this fall. For more details, see the Supercell FAQ.

And tangentially? The OSU Open Source Lab is hiring. So if this kind of thing is interesting to you, you might consider getting a gig there.

(Hat tip Leslie Hawthorn)

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