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 that you enter on a test server 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 (Rob and Dave) 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
- RobertKaye's test server: http://test.musicbrainz.org/
- DaveEvans' test server: http://dev-mb.djce.org.uk/
- G0llum test servers:
On Rob's 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, e-mail 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.
In the past there has also been a problem on Rob's test server, due to the fact that his server (http://test.musicbrainz.org/) and the main server (http://musicbrainz.org/) occupy the same domain, therefore their cookies interfered with each other. This has meant that, in order to log in to one server, you'd have to delete the cookie from the other, and vice versa. Hopefully this problem has now been fixed.
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 e-mail (subscriptions, password reminders, mod notes etc)
- 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 musicbrainz-devel MailingList 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 musicbrainz-users MailingList.
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. You will probably need a Linux machine for this, although it might work on other platforms. You'll also need PostgreSQL, Apache and perl. Your first step should be to follow the instructions for using CVS to check out the
mb_server module. Inside, you'll find a file called "INSTALL" with a detailed list of dependencies and more instructions.