by Peter Galli on February 10, 2009 07:38am

There's a new Open Network in town, known as Snakebite, which is the brainchild of Trent Nelson, a committer to Python.

Snakebite is a network of some 37 servers of different shapes and sizes, spread over three sites and specifically geared towards the needs of open source projects like Python.

In short, and according to its Website, Snakebite is a network to provide open source developers unrestricted access to as many of the different platforms, operating systems, architectures, compilers, devices, databases, tools and applications that they need to optimally develop their software.

"Why do we develop open source software on closed networks? Why do open source developers only have access to a fraction of platforms that their software will eventually run on? And why the *@&# are the Windows buildbots always red?! Snakebite was created out of a desire to try and address problems like these faced by open source projects," the Website says.

Some months back, Nelson realized that while buildbots were fine when everything was running smoothly, nothing compared to actually having access to a system when a developer is trying to debug something.

"So, I thought to myself, why not buy a couple of clunky old boxes off eBay and donate them to the Python Software Foundation, such that all developers had access to them ... Ten months, seven trips to Michigan State University, six blown fuses and about $60,000 later, I'm proud to introduce you all to Snakebite: The Open Network!," he said.

This means that every CPython, Jython, IronPython and PyPy committer will have access to every development server on the network, Nelson says, adding that he has already extended the offer to prominent Python projects like Django and Twisted.

The end-goal is to ultimately invite other open source projects like Apache, Subversion, MySQL and Postgres, among others, but given that this network is Nelson's "gift to All Things Python, first and foremost," Python projects will always get preferential treatment.

Nelson also has big aspirations for Snakebite going forward, which you can read all about in this email he sent to the Snakebite list.

Nelson was also blown away by the level of support he received for the initiative: "Microsoft jumped on board and provided unlimited MSDN licenses in less time than it took me to write them an e-mail asking for stuff. Having the support of Microsoft from very early on has been a huge boost, and the MSDN licenses have already been invaluable ," he said.

An email to HP asking them for a Tru64 license and 2GB of RAM for the Itanium box he bought off eBay, also resulted in the company shipping two quad Itanium 2 RX-5670s, full of 73GB 15k disks and 78GB of RAM between the two servers; 32GB in one and 46GB in the other.

Sun, Google and Canonical have also expressed interest in the project, but Nelson has stopped asking for hardware as they have run out of space to host it all.

But, in a recent post to the Python Committers mailing list, Nelson notes that it will probably be a few weeks before users can start logging in and doing stuff. 

"The HPCC/CSE server room at MSU is about to have walls knocked in and ramps built in order to accommodate a giant PDU that has been sitting outside it for about six months; the Snakebite rack is going to get shuffled around a bit so I figure there's not much point going live before that's taken care of," he said.