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Jenkins supports the "master/slave" mode, where the workload of building projects are delegated to multiple "slave" nodes, allowing a single Jenkins installation to host a large number of projects, or to provide different environments needed for builds/tests. This document describes this mode and how to use it.

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Slaves are computers that are set up to build projects for a master. Jenkins runs a separate program called "slave agent" on slaves. In other words, there is no need to install the full Jenkins (package or compiled binaries) on a slave node. There are various ways to start slave agents, but in the end a slave agent and Jenkins master needs to establish a bi-directional byte stream (for example a TCP/IP socket.)

When slaves are registered to a master, a master starts distributing loads to slaves. The exact delegation behavior depends on configuration of each project. Some projects may choose to "stick" to a particular machine for a build, while others may choose to roam freely between slaves. For people accessing Jenkins website, things works mostly transparently. You can still browse javadoc, see test results, download build results from a master, without ever noticing that builds were done by slaves.  In other words, the master becomes a sort of "portal" to the entire build farm.

Follow the Step by step guide to set up master and slave machines to quickly start using distributed builds.

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