LAVA V2 - Pipeline model
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LAVA V2 is the second major version of LAVA. The major user-visible features
- The Pipeline model for the dispatcher
- YAML job submissions
- Data export APIs
The architecture has been significantly improved since V1, bringing major
changes in terms of how a distributed LAVA instance is installed, configured
and used for running test jobs.
Migration to V2 started with the 2016.2 release.
What is LAVA?
- LAVA is the Linaro Automation and Validation Architecture.
- LAVA is a continuous integration system for
deploying operating systems onto physical and virtual hardware for running
tests. Tests can be simple boot testing, bootloader testing and system level
testing, although extra hardware may be required for some system tests.
Results are tracked over time and data can be exported for further analysis.
- LAVA is a collection of participating components in an evolving architecture.
LAVA aims to make systematic, automatic and manual quality control more
approachable for projects of all sizes.
- LAVA is designed for validation during development - testing whether the code
that engineers are producing “works”, in whatever sense that means. Depending
on context, this could be many things, for example:
- testing whether changes in the Linux kernel compile and boot
- testing whether the code produced by gcc is smaller or faster
- testing whether a kernel scheduler change reduces power consumption for a
- LAVA is good for automated validation. LAVA tests the Linux kernel on a range
of supported boards every day. LAVA tests proposed android changes in gerrit
before they are landed, and does the same for other projects like gcc. Linaro
runs a central validation lab in Cambridge, containing racks full of
computers supplied by Linaro members and the necessary infrastucture to
control them (servers, serial console servers, network switches etc.)
- LAVA is good for providing developers with the ability to run customised test
on a variety of different types of hardware, some of which may be difficult
to obtain or integrate. Although LAVA has support for emulation (based on
QEMU), LAVA is best at providing test support for real hardware devices.
- LAVA is principally aimed at testing changes made by developers across
multiple hardware platforms to aid portability and encourage multi-platform
development. Systems which are already platform independent or which have
been optimised for production may not necessarily be able to be tested in
LAVA or may provide no overall gain.
This overview document explains LAVA using
http://validation.linaro.org/ which is the official production instance of
LAVA hosted by Linaro. Where examples reference
replace with the fully qualified domain name of your LAVA instance.
What is LAVA not?
- LAVA is not a set of tests - it is infrastructure to enable
users to run their own tests. LAVA concentrates on providing a range of
deployment methods and a range of boot methods. Once the login is complete,
the test consists of whatever scripts the test writer chooses to execute in
- LAVA is not a test lab - it is the software that can used in a test lab
to control test devices.
- LAVA is not a complete CI system - it
is software that can form part of a CI loop. LAVA supports data extraction to
make it easier to produce a frontend which is directly relevant to particular
groups of developers.
- LAVA is not a build farm - other tools need to be used to prepare
binaries which can be passed to the device using LAVA.
- LAVA is not a production test environment for hardware - LAVA is focused
on developers and may require changes to the device or the software to enable
automation. These changes are often unsuitable for production units. LAVA
also expects that most devices will remain available for repeated testing
rather than testing the software with a changing set of hardware.
Continuous Integration which covers how LAVA relates to
continuous integration (CI) and covers the consequences of what LAVA can and
cannot do with particular emphasis on how automation itself can block some
forms of testing.
- Automated validation - designed for automated processes to create,
submit and process results of test jobs to validate the development
- Parallel scheduling - multiple test jobs run at the same time
across multiple devices.
- MultiNode test jobs - test jobs can be run as a single group of
tests involving multiple devices.
- Hardware sharing - uncommon hardware is shared between disparate
groups to maximise usage
- Wide device coverage - a large number of types of device can be
supported with instances ranging from one to more than a hundred
devices available for test jobs.
- Data export for customisation - transform the data using custom
interfaces to make the validation output directly relevant to specific
- Privacy support - test jobs or types of device can be kept private
to selected groups, individuals or teams.
- Live result reporting - if a test job does fail, all results
up to the point of failure are retained.
- UNIX and Android test support - Test jobs can be run on systems
running various UNIX flavours or using the Android Debug Bridge to
interface with mobile devices.
- Complex network testing - reconfigurable networking across multiple
devices using multiple network interfaces.
instance consists of two primary components - a master and a
worker. The simplest possible configuration is to run the master and
worker components on a single machine, but a larger instance can also be
configured to support multiple workers controlling a larger number of attached
Elements of the Master
- Web interface - This is built using the Apache web server, the uWSGI
application server and the Django web framework. It also provides XML-RPC
access and the REST API.
- Database - This uses PostgreSQL locally on the master, with no external
- Scheduler - This is the piece that causes jobs to be run - periodically
this will scan the database to check for queued test jobs and available test
devices, starting jobs when the needed resources become available.
- Dispatcher-master daemon - This communicates with the worker(s) using
Elements of the Worker
- Lava-slave daemon - This receives control messages from the master and
sends logs and results back to the master using ZMQ.
- Dispatcher - This manages all the operations on the device under test,
according to the job submission and device parameters sent by the master.
- Device Under Test (DUT)
Although the Dispatcher interacts directly with the DUT, all
the device configuration is sent from the server.
LAVA has a steep learning curve and this does not tend to level off as your lab
grows. Even small labs involve additional hardware, infrastructure and
- Do not rush into LAVA setup.
- Start small.
- Think carefully about what you are trying to test. Avoid common pitfalls of
- Learn how to debug LAVA with a small lab
and use standard test jobs.
- Invest in additional hardware - a
device on your desk is not a good candidate for automation.
- Test with emulated devices before thinking about
the device on your priority list.
- Integrating a completely new device type is the probably the most
complex thing to do in LAVA. It can take a few months of work for
devices which do not use currently supported methods or bootloaders.
- Start by adding known devices, including purchasing
some of the low-cost devices already supported by LAVA.
- Talk to us before looking at device types not
currently supported on LAVA instances.
All test jobs involve a deployment step of some kind, even if that is just to
prepare the overlay used to copy the test scripts onto the device or to setup
the process of parsing the results when the test job starts.
Hardware devices need to be instructed how to boot, emulated devices need to
boot the emulator. For other devices, a
boot can be simply establishing a
connection to the device.
The principal test method in LAVA is the Lava Test Shell which requires a POSIX
type environment to be running on the booted device. Other test methods
available include executing tests using ADB.
Multiple device testing
Some test jobs need to boot up multiple devices in a single, coordinated,
group. For example, a server could be tested against multiple clients. LAVA
supports starting these sub jobs as a group as well as passing messages between
nodes via the dispatcher connection, without needing the devices to have a
working network stack.
LAVA has advanced support for scheduling multiple jobs across multiple devices,
whether those jobs use one device or several. Scheduling is ordered using these
criteria, in this order:
- health checks
- submit time
- multinode group - see also MultiNode LAVA
In addition, scheduling can be restricted to devices specified by the admin
Advanced use cases
Advanced use cases expand on this support to include:
- creating and deleting customised virtual networks, where suitable hardware
and software support exists.
- extracting data from LAVA to manage job submission and result handling to
support developer-specific tasks like KernelCI.
LAVA V2 comes with comprehensive documentation
about use and installation, including advice on how to manage a test