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A TeamCity Build Agent is a piece of software that actually executes a build process. It is installed and configured separately from the TeamCity server. An agent can be installed on the same computer as the server or on a different machine (the latter is a preferred setup for server performance reasons).
TeamCity server monitors all the connected agents and assigns queued builds to the agents based on compatibility requirements.
To create a build, TeamCity tries to select the fastest agent based on the history of builds of a build configuration which ran on the particular agent. As the available build runners depend on environment where agent is running, TeamCity chooses an agent having required a build runner.
In TeamCity, a build agent can have following statuses:
All agents connected to the server must have unique agent name.
Only users with certain roles can manage agents. See role and permission for more information.
For a build agent configuration please refer to Build Agent Configuration section.