Comparing popular CI/CD tools for on-premise configuration

As continuous integration/continuous delivery workflow has grown in popularity in recent years a multitude of tools intended for simplifying this task has appeared on the market. As we are supportive and passionate about open-source and self-hosted solutions we will compare some of the most interesting projects available that may act as an alternative to the most popular one, Jenkins or the multitude of proprietary tools.

Drone.io

  • GitHub stars: 23.7k
  • Written in Go
  • Natively handles secrets
  • yaml configuration

Drone uniqueness comes from its approach to the execution of functionality. Every step runs as a separate container and is isolated from others. This allows for easier debugging and less coupling between steps. Containerization helps with resource conflicts and bottlenecks.

The Drone has both free OSS Community Edition and Enterprise Edition which is free for individuals, students and companies with annual gross revenue of less than $1 million US dollars. The Community Edition has stripped functionality with no Kubernetes integration, SQLite as the only database backend available and no secret management. It is also limited to a single machine and does not support autoscaling.

Buildbot

  • GitHub stars: 4.7k
  • Written in Python
  • Project with long history
  • Python configuration

Buildbot is a project with a long history, as the first release dates back to 2003. Initially, it was designed as a build test automation tool. While its popularity is much lower than Jenkins it was adopted in many notable projects such as the Yocto Project. Buildbots configuration is written in Python, so while it adds complexity it also gives much greater power to the user. It describes itself as a job scheduling system. It is not a specific application that allows to fill in specific details and works well until something not envisioned by the authors is needed to be done. It is a powerful framework that can grow as necessary in more complex cases. It is used in many projects such as the Yocto Project, Python, Blender or GDB (GNU Debugger)

Concourse

  • GitHub stars: 5.8k
  • Written in Go
  • yaml configuration

Concourse just as Drone is a more recent tool (first released in 2014). It has a steep learning curve, but according to the devs, the goal of this project is for the curve to flatten out shortly after. It has quite a unique approach to job execution based on Resources which represent all external inputs and outputs of jobs in the pipeline. They allow abstracting external factors like git repositories and s3 buckets. Its goal is to get rid of itself out of the way as much as possible and make the server disposable. Artifacts and data from each step of the process must be passed explicitly. This allows getting rid of hidden assumptions that may cause a problem with understanding the workflow.

Tekton

  • GitHub stars: 6.5k
  • CI/CD framework for Kubernetes

Tekton is a part of cd.foundation - a Linux Foundation project which greatly raises its significance for us. It describes itself as a cloud-native solution for building CI/CD pipelines. Tekton is installed and ran on the Kubernetes cluster. It comprises a set of Kubernetes Custom Resources. After installation, it can be accessed by Kubernetes CLI and API calls. Its built-in integration with Kubernetes may be an advantage if there is already expertise and infrastructure for running it, however, that may not be the case in an on-premise setup.

Summary

While Jenkins became the CI standard through time, security and scaling issues may lead us to consider alternatives. There is no lack of available free and open options for hosting your own CI/CD server. You can choose between new and innovative solutions coming fresh to the market or time-tested ones.

If you think we can help in improving the security of your firmware or you looking for someone who can boost your product by leveraging advanced features of used hardware platform, feel free to book a call with us or drop us email to contact<at>3mdeb<dot>com. If you are interested in similar content feel free to sign up to our newsletter


Piotr Konkol
Junior Test Automation Developer at 3mdeb. Competitive powerlifting athlete passionate about cybersecurity.


Artur Raglis
Project Manager and former Test Automation TL. More and more enthusiastic about open source family. Thrilled to learn the latest trends in the world of project management. Loves the good Sci-Fi literature and automation of the boring stuff