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Alternatives to GitHub Action runners

Introduction

GitHub Action runners are a powerful tool for automating your workflows, but they can be expensive and have limitations. Fortunately, there are several alternatives that offer cheaper and faster runners, including Buildjet, Warpbuild, RunsOn, and Ubicloud. In this guide, we’ll explore these alternatives and help you find the best fit for your needs.

RunsOn

RunsOn (this site) offers 10x cheaper runners.

  • Can support instances up to 256cpu.

  • Unlimited concurrency.

  • Among the fastest CPUs, and constantly improving thanks to AWS. Also can get another order of magnitude cheaper by switching to cheap burstable instances (t3 / t4) for less CPU-intensive workflows.

  • ARM64 and x64 supported, no Mac (due to Apple licensing requiring min 24h usage).

  • Support for GPUs.

  • Bandwidth to the outer internet can easily reach 500MB/s + you have a dedicated peering endpoint with S3 in case you need to store/retrieve large artefacts there.

  • On-premise, one-click installation and upgrades.

Ubicloud

Ubicloud offers 10x cheaper runners.

  • Uses slower Hetzner hardware.

  • Max concurrency is 64cpu at any time, unless you pay more. So for busy companies you’ll have to pay extra for the concurrency override.

  • Does not support instances over 16cpu.

  • ARM64 and x64 supported, no Mac.

  • Supposedly installable on premise, but not clear how that works since they rely on instances billed per hour instead of per minute.

Warpbuild

Warpbuild offers runners 2x cheaper.

  • Does not support instances over 16cpu.
  • Machines boot fast, and are quite fast.
  • No concurrency limit.
  • ARM64, x64, and Mac M2 supported.

This is a third-party.

Buildjet

Buildjet offers runners 2x cheaper.

  • Does not support instances over 32cpu.

  • Max concurrency is 64cpu at any time, unless you pay more.

  • ARM64, x64, no Mac.

  • Network bandwidth can be as slow as 20MB/s, so you have to use their own caching action to get reasonable speeds.

GitHub

GitHub runners have the slowest machines from the bunch, and are the most expensive. But they are integrated into GitHub.

  • x64, Mac M1/M2, Windows support.

  • No ARM linux runners at this time.

Conclusion

In conclusion, when choosing a third-party runner for your GitHub Actions, it’s important to consider the specific needs of your workflows.

Each runner has its own strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice will depend on factors such as cost, performance, and compatibility with your existing infrastructure and security requirements.