Jenkins vs Github Actions comparison of Continuous Integration servers
What are the differences between Jenkins and Github Actions?

Jenkins

https://jenkins.io

Github Actions

https://github.com/features/actions
Unique feature

Plugins

Best GitHub integration possible

Type of product

Self-hosted / On Premise

SaaS / On Premise

Offers a free plan

Yes

Free, open source software

Yes

The on premise plan (not yet available) will be free, 2000 build minutes included in the free cloud plan. Completely free plan for open source projects.
Predictable pricing

Yes

Jenkins is free software, the only costs are those assigned to running your infrastructure.

Yes (partial)

While it's clear what the cost is (priced per build-minute), figuring out costs can be a hassle, especially as the price can vary quite a bit depending on commits to the project. One advantage for GitHub Actions is that the tiers define a maximum amount of minutes, so it's easier to predict the final cost. You can also purchase aditional runners with pricing dependent on the platform (MacOS, Linux, Windows)
Support / SLA

No (partial)

No official support available, or SLAs. However, Jenkins' popularity ensures you'll find support in various places (official Jenkins forum, IRC, StackOverflow etc.)

Yes

Community support available for any tier, unclear at what point and if dedicated support is available. Safe to assume that eneterprise clients can access technical support.
Paralellism
Every CI servers tends to address this differently (parallel, distributed, build matrix). Some of it is just marketing, and some is just nuance. For this table, parallel means that tasks can be run concurrently on the same machine, distributed means that tasks can be scaled horizontally, on multiple machines
How to split tests in parallel in optimal way with Knapsack Pro

Yes (partial)

Jenkins allows builds to be run in parallel, but all builds share the same environment and there can be issues arising from shared resources such as the filesystem.

Yes

Matrix builds allow concurrent jobs, even multi-platform.
Distributed builds
distributed means that tasks can be scaled horizontally, on multiple machines
How to split tests in parallel in optimal way with Knapsack Pro

Yes (partial)

Jenkins has a concept of master server and agents, for distributing builds, but setting that up requires quite a bit of manual work from a sysadmin, compared to other options.

N/A

No specific mention, but given the fact that tasks can be run on multiple platforms, it's likely that distributed builds are also available.
Containers support / Build environment

No (partial)

By default, Jenkins runs all builds in the same environment as the build server itself, which can lead to numerous issues and is generally not a good practice. Some plugins address this issue, but they need to be manually installed.

Yes

Linux, macOS, Windows, and containers, or run directly in a VM.
Analytics / Status overview
Analytics and overview referrs to the ability to, at a glance, see what's breaking (be it a certain task, or the build for a specific project)

Yes

Available via the Blue Ocean project (part of Jenkins): https://jenkins.io/doc/book/blueocean/dashboard/#dashboard

Yes

Minimal status overview definitely available, with live logs and GitHub integration. Unclear how far it goes.
Management support
How easy is it to manage users / projects / assign roles and permissions and so on

No

In practice, for Jenkins it usually means that there's someone solely in charge of the Jenkins instance (configuration, management). Collaboration features built into other similar products are lacking, as are governance features (no easy way to tell from Jenkins alone _who_ is responsabile for a broken build, for example), even if your Version Control Server of choice can give that information (via `git blame` for example).

N/A

Unclear from the available documentation
Self-hosted option

Yes

Jenkins is Open Source Software, and self-hosting is the only way to use it.

Yes

Coming soon, not available yet.
Hosted plans / SaaS

No

Only available for self-hosting.

Yes

Build pipelines
A continuous delivery pipeline is a description of the process that the software goes through from a new code commit, through testing and other statical analysis steps all the way to the end-users of the product.

Yes

Offers extensive support for custom pipelines, either through the Jenkins Pipeline DSL, written in a Jenkinsfile, either through the Web UI. Also, their Blue Ocean project is a great tool for building pipelines: https://jenkins.io/projects/blueocean/

Yes

Called GitHub Action Workflows, they are defined in separate Docker containers, using the YAML syntax (they used to support HCL, but they're migrating away from that)
Reports
Reports are about the abilty to see specific reports (like code coverage or custom ones), but not necesarily tied in into a larger dashboard.

Yes

Has ready-made integrations for standard reports such as JUnit test results.

N/A

Unclear from the available documentation
Ecosystem
Besides the official documentation and software, is there a large community using this product? Are there any community-driven tools / plugins that you can use?

> 1000 community plugins

Thanks to it's popularity, there's a large selection of available plugins for Jenkins. They can all be easily browsed over at https://plugins.jenkins.io/. The downside is that almost anything you want to do in Jenkins requires installing a plugin, even core functionality such as parsing output or checking out source code.

Yes

Thanks to the large following, GitHub Actions already enjoys a wide varierty of available pre-made workflows, which you can browse right on the homepage: https://github.com/features/actions
Specific language support: Ruby
Some CI servers have built-in support for parsing RSpec or Istanbul output for example and we mention those. Some others make it even easier by detecting Gemfiles or package.json and automate parts of the process for the developer.

Yes (Partial)

RSpec and Cucumber test suites can be integrated into Jenkins thanks to the large pool of available plugins and Ruby gems. Jenkins only understands the JUnit format natively.

Yes

Unclear how, but they mention Ruby support specifically on the homepage
Specific language support: JavaScript

Yes (Partial)

Jest, AVA and other test suites can be integrated into Jenkins thanks to the large pool of available plugins and NPM packages. Jenkins only understands the JUnit format natively.

Yes

Unclear how, but they mention Javascript (Node.js) support specifically on the homepage
Integrations
1st party support for common tools (like Slack notifications, various VCS platforms, etc)

Yes

Allows integrations with other tools (ie: Slack, GitHub) or communication protocols (ie: email) via it's rich plugin suite

Yes

Integrations made possible via the shared third party workflows available (AWS, Azure, Zeit, Kubernetes and many more)
API
Custom integreation is available, via an API or otherwise, it's mentioned separately as it allows further customization than any of the Ecosystem/Integration options

Yes

For use-cases that the +1k plugins don't cover, the Jenkins Remote API is yet another way to integrate Jenkins into your favorite tools or internal products.

N/A

Unclear at the moment, but assume GitHub Actions will be integrated with the GitHub GraphQL API (one of the more mature GraphQL API implementations available)
Auditing

No

Jenkins instances are really managed by a sole user with administrative privileges. This can lead to various issues when it comes to audit trails / accountability.

N/A

Additional notes

How to run parallel tests on Jenkins and Github Actions
to execute 1-hour test suite in 2 minutes?

How it works

1. Install Knapsack Pro client in your project


2. Add Knapsack Pro client to your current CI server and run your tests in parallel



3. Update your CI server config file to run tests in parallel with Knapsack Pro

Knapsack Pro in Queue Mode will split tests in a dynamic way across parallel CI nodes to ensure each CI node finish work at a similar time. Thanks to that your CI build time is as fast as possible. It works with many supported CI servers.

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Continuous delivery pipelines in Jenkins and CI parallelisation

GitHub Actions testing Ruby on Rails with RSpec and parallel jobs (matrix feature)

How to run Jest tests on GitHub Actions - JS parallel jobs with matrix feature (NodeJS YAML config)

GitHub Actions Cypress.io E2E testing parallel jobs with matrix feature (NodeJS YAML config)

Jenkins parallelism integration

Github Actions parallelism integration

Introduction to CI parallelisation with Knapsack Pro

Run tests in parallel on Jenkins and Github Actions in optimal way and avoid bottleneck parallel jobs.

How much can you save with faster tests
on Jenkins and Github Actions?

minutes
$

Monthly you can save hours
and up to $
on faster development cycle.

Features that make your tests perform better

  • Queue mode see video

    Dynamic tests allocation across Jenkins and Github Actions parallel jobs. Autobalance tests to get optimal test suite split betweeen CI nodes.

  • Regular mode see video

    Test suite split based on time execution. Generates subset of test suite per CI node before running tests.

  • Fallback mode

    Network issues? Not a problem, run tests anyway! Auto switch to the fallback mode to not depend on Knapsack Pro API.

  • All supported test runners

    Ruby: RSpec, Minitest, Test::Unit, Cucumber, Spinach, Turnip.

    JavaScript: Cypress.io, Jest

    Do you use different programming language or test runner? Let us know in the poll

Discover all features or see
how to use Knapsack Pro with your CI

Trusted solution

Join the teams optimizing their tests with Knapsack Pro.

We've been really enjoying Knapsack Pro, it's been saving us a ton of time.

Devin Brown Software Engineer at Pivotal

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Geoff Harcourt CTO at CommonLit

We are using CircleCI and we noticed that builds were being limited by the slowest parallelized container. Knapsack Pro was really east to setup and we saw huge improvements right away. Thank you for making this tool!

Martin Sieniawski Software Engineer at Collage

Knapsack Pro has helped us build an insanely fast and scaleable build pipeline with almost no setup or maintenance.

Tim Lucas Co-founder of buildkite.com

Knapsack Pro saves us hours of engineer waiting time every week, and is the best solution for keeping our tests load balanced that we've used to date.

Michael Amygdalidis Senior Software Engineer at Popular Pays

I just logged into my account expecting it to say that I needed to add a credit card and was so surprised and delighted to see the trial doesn't count usage by calendar days but by testing days! This is incredible! I love it!!!

I just wanted to say that I really appreciate that small but very huge feature. Thank you for being so thoughtful :)

Shannon Baffoni Senior Software Engineer
at Blue Bottle Coffee

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