The Purpose of the Test Servers
The test servers for testing new server features. Once a new feature has been programmed (or once a new release has been prepared), one or more of the test servers will be updated with the new software, and someone (usually the owner of that server, e.g. RobertKaye or DaveEvans) will invite people to visit the test server in order to test the new server version or features. Data entered on any of the test servers will never be copied to the main server!
The MusicBrainz server programmers each run their own MusicBrainz server, which is where the development actually takes place. Since we only really have one box each for server work, our development servers are the same as our test servers, and they can only be one thing at a time. If we're using our own box for development, then the system is likely to be in a state of flux - don't be surprised if things break or change unexpectedly! On the other hand, if we're using it for testing, then things are (hopefully) more stable, and you are welcome to try out the new features and provide feedback. At the moment there's no way to tell for sure if we're in "development" (unstable) mode, or if we're in "test" (stable) mode. Feel free to ask on IRC if you need to.
Where to Find Them
Maintained by RobertKaye - The official MusicBrainz Test Server -- the primary sandbox on the test server.
RobertKaye development server -- this server is in constant flux
One sandbox on the test server with folksonomy tagging alpha features.
On the sandboxes on the test server, the moderator accounts are usually exact copies of what they are on the live server - you can log in with your usual account name and password. On all other test servers, the moderator accounts have usually been "sanitised" - that is, all the passwords have been reset to "mb", and all preferences, privileges, subscriptions, email addresses etc. have been removed. Very infrequently we might run a test server with no moderator accounts at all (in which case, obviously your account will not work). In any instance, you can always create yourself a new account via the usual method.
Other Differences from the Main Server
An incomplete list of the ways in which test servers tend to differ from the main server:
- Test servers usually are not capable of sending out email (subscriptions, password reminders, mod notes etc) That poses the problem that email addresses cannot be verified, and thus no new accounts created which have the permission to edit --Keschte
- Test servers sometimes have extra features allowing you to approve a moderation manually without subjecting it to a vote etc.
- Test servers are the first with new features of the site, although the features often don't work
Of course depending on what is being tested, the above may or may not be true.
Where to Send Feedback
If you encounter problems on one of the test servers, sending mail to the DevelopersMailingList is generally the best option. If you have more general comments or suggestions, you could add something to the MusicBrainzDevelopment FeaturePage for the feature in question, or possibly send mail to the general UsersMailingList. Please do not open new bug reports for problems on the test servers, although if there are existing bug reports relevant to the issue, you could add a comment.
What Happens to the Data?
Data changes made on the test servers do not get propagated back to the main server, unless we explicitly say otherwise (which I don't think we ever have, yet). But we might at some point, in which case we will tell you. Every now and then (usually every few weeks) the owner of the server in question will ditch any data on that server, and re-import a fresh copy of the live database.
Can I Run My Own Test Server?
Yes, this is possible, although widely regarded as quite a difficult thing to do. See the instructions on Server Setup to get an idea what is needed to get a Test Server up and running.