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For much of its history, the kernel has had little in the way of formaltesting infrastructure. It is not entirely an exaggeration to say thattesting is what the kernel community kept users around for. Over theyears, though, that situation has improved; internal features likekselftest and services like the 0day testing system have increased our testcoverage considerably. The story is unlikely to end there, though; thenext addition to the kernel's testing arsenal may be a unit-testing frameworkcalled KUnit.

The KUnit patches, currently in their fourth revision, have been developedby Brendan Higgins at Google. The intent is to enable the easy and rapidtesting of kernel components in isolation — unit testing, in other words.That distinguishes KUnit from kernel's kselftestframework in a couple of significant ways. Kselftest is intended toverify that a given feature works in a running kernel; the tests run inuser space and exercise the kernel that the system booted. They thus canbe thought of as a sort of end-to-end test, ensuring that specific parts ofthe entire systemare behaving as expected. These tests are important to have, but they donot necessarily test specific kernel subsystems in isolation from all ofthe others, and they require actually booting the kernel to be tested.

KUnit, instead, is designed to run more focused tests, and they run insidethe kernel itself. To make this easy to do in any setting, the frameworkmakes use of user-mode Linux (UML) to actually run the tests. That maycome as a surprise to those who think of UML as a dusty relic from beforethe kernel had proper virtualization support (its home page is hosted onSourceForge and offers a bleeding-edge 2.6.24 kernel for download), but UMLhas been maintained over the years. It makes a good platform for somethinglike KUnit without rebooting the host system or needing to set upvirtualization.

Using KUnit is a matter of writing a set of test cases to exercise the codein question and check the results. Each test case is a function with thissignature:


A test case function that returns normally is deemed to have succeeded; afailure can be indicated by a call to KUNIT_FAIL():

One could thus write a test case with a bunch of if statements andKUNIT_FAIL() calls but, naturally, a set of helper macros exists toreduce the amount of boilerplate code required.For example:

will test v1 and v2 for equality and complain loudly ifthe test fails. A module testing low-level string handling might featurecalls like:

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As one would expect, there are a number of these macros for different kindsof tests; see thispage for the full set. Note that a test case will continue after oneof these 'expectations' fails; that may not be desirable if a particularfailure means that the remaining tests cannot be performed. For suchcases, there is a mirror set of macros with ASSERT instead ofEXPECT in their names; if an assertion fails, the rest of the testcase (but not any other test cases) will be aborted.

Once a set of test cases are written, they should be gathered together intoan array with code like:

This array is then packaged into a kunit_module structure thisway:

The init() and exit() functions can be provided if theyare needed to set up and clean up after the test cases.The resulting source file implements a special type of kernel module; the next stepis to add it to the Kconfig file:

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and to add an appropriate line to the makefile as well. Then, running program that comes with KUnit will build a UML kernel and boot it to run any teststhat are enabled in the current kernel configuration.

For more information, see thedetailed documentation written by Higgins. There is also anextended example provided with the patch set in the form of theconversion of the existing device-tree unit tests to the KUnit framework.There have been some comments on the details of how test cases are written,but the code would appear to be getting closer to ready for merging intothe mainline. Then the kernel will have another tool in its testingtoolbox. That is just the beginning of course; then somebody has toactually write the tests to go with it.Drivers Mstest
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KernelDevelopment tools/Testing

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