Executing Gummiworms The trials and tribulations of a grumpy curmudgeonly old git


Saving pennies when compiling

[ Seventeenth in a series recreating the lost posts -- This was originally posted 13/10/10]

My build systems are basically anything that I can get via freecycle, from the street on garbage day and what people send me (hint hint :) ). I am currently using an UltraSparc 5, a couple of dell dimensions and 3 or 4 trashday specials. These are all powehogs, especially the UltraSparc which doubles as a room heater during the winter. These systems when combined with the 2 tv's, 2 cable boxes, 2 main computers, 3 routers, 1 monitor , 1 printer, lights, fridge, air conditioners and other miscellenous bits and bobs makes for a very hefty electricity bill each month, ConEd also charges one of  highest electricity rates in the country so i'm always looking for ways to lower my bill. I'm also always on the lookout for methods to streamline my developement process especially as i currently compile for a variety of processors, x86, ARM, MIPS, Z80, 8085...

I currently use lots of VirtualBox Virtual machines scattered across several systems along with Scratchbox1/2, Aboriginal Linux, Buildroot, Code Sourcery, Qemu and some homebrewed toolchains and scripts. One of the things i've been mulling over the last few months is rather than using the various desktops I have scattered around the aprtment is using several wall wart servers like the pogoplug, guruplug... They are pretty cheap, very low power and if you throw enough of them at a build job they'd probably work pretty well. I haven't done any number crunching but i am willing to exchange time (build time and setup time etc) for money (electricity bill) as I think that i'd recover the costs of a few wall wart servers in 6 months or so (if i halve my current electricity bill). Hunter Davis has a very interesting post on his corporate blog about this and he's got some "believeable" numbers too that seem to back up my thinking so I think i'll start actually doing something about it rather than just thinking about it.

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  1. I think you’d be ahead of the game by getting one quad core box to run ESX or VB on. Probably could use it as your desktop too.

  2. I would get a nice quad core box to do that if I could afford it :) but I do already have a variation of that setup, multiple vm’s running on various boxes with distcc and cachec and a few other bits and pieces. the big problem with that is each desktop is using 350w+ power supply so all those electrons add up when coned sends it’s 0.00000000003cents per electron bill especially when they charge the same for delivering them as for my actually using them plus the fees and taxes and summer tax (or winter tax depending on the season) — my last months electricity bill was over $200 (average is about $160 or so) — even with turning everything off we seem to have over $100 bills, not sure why it is so much though perhaps we have electrons leaking out somewhere, i’ll have to keep my eyes open for a puddle under the fridge or something.

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