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Testing in the Yocto Project

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Linux

The ever-increasing complexity of the software stacks we work with has given testing an important role. There was a recent intersection between the automated testing being done by the Yocto Project (YP) and a bug introduced into the Linux kernel that gives some insight into what the future holds and the potential available with this kind of testing.

YP provides a way of building and maintaining customized Linux distribution; most distributions are one specific binary build, or a small set of such builds, but the output from YP depends on how you configure it. That raises some interesting testing challenges and the key to that is automation. The YP's build processes are all automated and its test infrastructure can build compilers, binaries, packages, and then images, for four principal architectures (ARM, MIPS, PowerPC, and x86) in 32- and 64-bit variants, and for multiple C libraries, init systems, and software stacks (no-X11, X11/GTK+, Wayland, etc.). It can then build and boot-test them all under QEMU, which takes around six hours if everything needs to be rebuilt; that can drop to under two hours if there are a lot of hits in the prebuilt-object cache.

Not content with that, YP has been adding support for running the test suites that many open-source projects include on a regular and automated basis. These are referred to as packaged tests or "ptests" within the project. For example, a ptest might be what would run if you did "make check" in the source directory for the given piece of software, but packaged up to be able to run on the target. There are many challenges in packaging these up into entities that can run standalone on a cross-platform target and parsing the output into a standard format suited to automation. But YP has a standard for the output and the installed location of these tests, so they can be discovered and run.

While all architectures are boot-tested under QEMU, and those tests are run on batches of commits before they're merged into YP, right now only architectures with KVM acceleration have the ptests run. Also, the ptests are run less regularly due to the time they take (3.5 hours). This means ptests are currently run on 64-bit x86 a few times a week and aarch64 is in testing using ARM server hardware.

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