I am very happy to announce that we've launched a frequently requested (and internally controversial) feature: the ability to SSH into build machines to better debug your CI/CD jobs. I say controversial because being a team of over 20 strong minded people, each person had a distinct opinion on the merits and demerits of debugging with SSH.
The merit is obvious, debugging is much faster when you can see what's happening on the machine. You can print out the environment, or see what happened to a particular container, look at CPU/memory utilization, or even change the configuration of a test database to see if that helps your failing tests.
However, our team has made a conscious decision to disallow SSH access for our developers for two main reasons:
- It doesn't encourage a mentality of 'designing for failure', for example, adding sufficient logging or making sure you can collect the information you need without needing access to the machine. You're not going to have access to Production machines, so avoiding SSHing into Test machines will build the discipline of designing for failure, rather than just reacting to failure.
- Making ad-hoc changes to the machine environment results in environment drift and often, these changes aren't documented or really applied in all environments. Making it work on one Test machine isn't the goal, the discipline needed to then propagate those changes to all environments and reconfigure them is sometimes missed, which means your job will just fail again when your code change reaches the next environment.
Regardless, many of our customers still wanted this feature, so we're happy to launch it today.
Before we dive in deeper, you need to know that SSH access is only available for paid accounts.