Build and Test standards

The oVirt project defined a set of standards that allow a source project to specify how it should be built, tested and released in a generic manner that is independent from the programming languages and tools that we used to develop the source project.

These standards are used to create generic build and test tools such as mock_runner that can work in a consistent manner for any oVirt project.

The oVirt CI system uses these standards in order to run build, test and release processes for projects in an automated manner. This is why these standards are also known as "Standard-CI" or "STDCI".

The automation directory

The basis of the build and tests standards is the automation directory. This directory needs to reside at the root of the project's source code and it contains all the various files that specify how to preform various operations with the project's source code.

Standard CI 'Stages'

A core concept in the Build and Test standards is the concept of "stages". Stages refer to various operations that are typically performed on a source code change as it makes its way from being initially written by a developer to being included in an official release.

Stages can be 'run' which means that the actions defined for a given stage are performed.

The following stages are currently defined:


This stage defines how to build the source code into a set of user-consumable artifacts such as RPM packages or Container Images. This stage is run by the CI system when a build of the source code is needed to preform tests or it was either requested manually,


This stage defines how to manually build a project from a source TARBALL. It is used when official releases are composed via a manual process.


This stage defines how to perform correctness, quality, functionality or regression checks on new code changes. The CI system run this stage to provide feedback on Gerrit patchs or GitHub pull requests.


This stage is used to perform correctness, quality, functionality or regression checks on the main project source code branches. The CI system runs this stage after a patch is merged in Gerrit or commits are pushed to a branch in GitHub (E.g. via merging a pull request).


This stage is used for polling external data sources for information that is needed to perform automated source code updates. An example for such a polling process is when source code builds a container that is based on another container (With e.g. a 'FROM' in in a Dockerfile). The source code typically needs to specify a specific version of the base container so that builds are reproducible, but keeping that version up to date can be cumbersome for developers. The poll stage can be used to query for newer versions and automatically generate appropriate source code changes. The CI system run this stage periodically. This stage is also used in conjunction with the source code dependency functionality that is described below.

Attaching functionality to stages

In order to specify what needs to be done in a given stage one needs to simply drop a script file with the name of that stage and the .sh extension in the automation directory. For example, to specify what should be done when the 'check-patch' stage is run, create the following file:


Despite the .sh extension, the script file could actually be written in any language as long as the right interpreter is specified in a "shabeng" line at the beginning of the script.

Since sometimes it is needed to do different things on different distributions, it is also possible to specify different scripts per distribution by added a distribution suffix to the script file name. For example, to have a different check-merged script for 'CentOS 7.x', another different script for 'Fedora 26' and a 3rd fall back script for all other distributions, create the following three script files:


The script files can also be symbolic links in case it is desired to place the actual script file in a different location or to have the same functionality to a set of different distributions.

Script runtime environment

The scripts are run in an isolated, minimal environments. A clone of the project source code is made available inside those environments and the current working directory for the script is set to the root of the project source code tree. The clone includes the project's Git history, so the git command can be used to query for additional information such as committed changes and tag names.

Runtime dependencies can be specified to make build tools and other resources available for the build and test scripts. The way to define those is described in the next chapter.

Declaring build and test dependencies

In order to provide reliable and reproducible test and build results, test and build stage scripts are typically run inside isolated, minimal environments. It is often the case that more software packages and other data is needed in order to perform a certain test or a given build process.

It is possible for the stage script to include commands that obtain and install required software and tools, but this standard also specifies a way to declare requirements so that they can be provided automatically and efficiently while the environment for running the build or test script is being prepared.

This standard currently defines and supports several kinds of dependencies:

  • Extra source code dependencies - A project can specify that it needs to be tested or built along with the source code of another repository. This can be used for example, for projects that are mainly derived from the source of other (Upstream) projects.
  • Package dependencies - A project can specify additional packages it requires for running test or build processes.
  • Package repository dependencies - A project can specify packages repositories it needs to access in order to perform test and build processes or to install dependent software packages needed for those processes.
  • Directory or file mounts - A project can specify that it needs to mount certain files or directories into its testing environment. This can be used to ensure certain cache files are preserved between different test runs or builds of the same project (Typically the test environment is destroyed when a build or a test is done), or to gain access to certain system devices or services.

Dependency definition files

Unless otherwise stated below, project dependencies are defined separately per-stage. And can additionally be defined separately per-distribution.

Project dependencies are specified via files that are places in the automation directory and take the following form:


For example, to define package dependencies for the 'check-patch' stage, you place them in the following file:


When specifying a per-distribution dependency, a distribution suffix needs to be added. For example, to define mounts for the 'check-merged' stage when it runs on el7, use the following file:


As with script files, multiple files for different distributions can be created, files can be symbolic links and the file without a distribution suffix is used as the fall back file for distributions where a more specific file was not created. There are no inheritance or inclusion mechanisms between different dependency files, only one file is used to declare dependencies for a given stage run on a given distribution.

Dependency caching

System that are based on these build and test standards can utilize caching of the build and test environments to improve performance. Therefore there is no guarantee that the test environment will always contain the latest available versions of required software packages for example.

If there is a need to guarantee installation of the latest version of a certain component. It is recommended to have the stage scripts perform the installation directly instead via the dependency definition files.

Doing it this way is almost guaranteed to have a performance impact on the oVirt CI system for example, so care must be taken to use this technique only where absolutely needed.

Defining extra source code dependencies (AKA "Upstream Sources")

A project can define that source code from other source code repositories will be obtained and merged into its own source code before build or test stages are performed.

A project can specify this by including an automation/upstream_sources.yaml file. The file format is as in the following example:

  - url: git://
    commit: a4a34f0f126854137f82701bc24976b825d9d1ae
    branch: master

The git key is used as a placeholder for future functionality, currently only Git source code repositories are supported, but other kinds may be supported in the future. The key points to a list of one or more definitions which contain the following details:

  • url - Specifies the URL of the repository from which to obtain the source code
  • commit - Specifies the checksum identifier of the source code commit to take from the specified source code repository.
  • branch - Specifies the branch to which the source code commit belongs. This is used to provide automated updates to this file as specified below.

The way source code dependencies are provided is as following - first all the files from repositories given in the definitions in the upstream_sources.yaml are checked out in the order in which they are specified in the file, and then the project's source code repository is checked out on top of them. This means that if the same file exists in several repositories, if will be taken from the last specified one, while files from the project's own repository will override all other files.

One needs to specify the exact dependency source code commit to take source code from. This is needed to ensure building or testing a specific commit of the project provides consistent results that are independent of changes done to dependency source code repositories.

The downside of having to specify the exact commit to take from the dependency repository is that it can be cumbersome to maintain the upstream_sources.yaml file over time. Therefore an automated update mechanism exists for it. The dependency source code repositories will be scanned in a scheduled manner, the latest commits of specified branches will be detected, and source code patches including the required changes to the file will be created automatically and submitted for developer review.

This semi-automated update functionality is done as part of the 'poll-upstream-sources' stage. The stage script is run after updates are made to the upstream_sources.yaml file and updated source code is collected, therefore it can be used to automatically check the results of the automated update process.

Only one upstream_sources.yaml file can be specified per-project, therefore it is not possible to specify different source code dependencies for different stages or distributions.

Package dependencies

Package dependencies are specified in dependency definition files with the packages suffix. For example to specify packages for build-artifacts stage, create the following file:


The definition files simply list distribution packages, one per line. Here is an example of the contents of a check-patch.packages.el6 file:


Note that the testing environment is very minimal by default, so even packages that are considered to be ubiquitous such as git need to be specified.

Any of the distribution base packages can be asked for. In CentOS and RHEL, packages from EPEL are also made available. For obtaining packages from other repositories, these must be made available by defining them as repository dependencies.

Package repository dependencies

Package repository dependencies are specified in dependency definition files with the repos suffix. For example to specify repositories for build-artifacts stage running on CentOS7, create the following file:


The package repository definition file can contain one or more lines of the following format:


Where the optional name can be used to refer to the package repository via yum or dnf commands and the url point to the actual URL of the repository.

In oVirt's CI system the name will also be used to detect if there is a local transactional mirror available for that repo and used it instead of using the repo directly over the internet. It is highly recommended to consult the list of CI mirrors and pick repository names and URLs from there.

For more information about the CI transactional mirrors, see the dedicated document

Directory or file mount dependencies

Directory and file mount allow you to gain access to files and directories on the underlying testing host from your testing environment. One must be careful when using this feature since it is easy to make tests unreliable while using it.

Directory and file mounts are specified in dependency definition files with the *.mounts suffix. The files consist of one or more lines in the following format:


Where src_path is the path on the host to mount and dst_path is the path inside the testing environment. If dst_path is unspecified, the path inside the testing environment will be the same as the one on the host.

If there is no file on the host in src_path, a new empty directory will be created at that location.

Collecting build and test results

Test processes are not very interesting unless one can tell if they succeeded or not. Build processes are equally uninteresting if one cannot obtain the resulting built artifacts.

Systems that support these build and test standards use the success or failure return value from the stage script as the way to determine is running a stage succeeded or failed.

If the build or test stages are run by a CI system, the system gathers up any files or directories placed in the exported-artifacts directory under the project's source code root directory and makes them available for download and inspection.

Specially treated files

A CI system can also provide special treatment to certain files if they are found in exported-artifacts in order to provide richer output. Following is a list of files the oVirt CI system treats in a special way:

  • RPM package files - If any *.rpm package files are found in exported-artifacts, the CI system generates yum metadata files so that the entire directory can be used as a yum repository and hence any HTTP URL in which it is made accessible
  • HTML index file - If an index.html file is found in exported-artifacts, it is included in the CI system's job summary page
  • JUNIT XML report files - If any files with the *.junit.xml extension are found under exported-artifacts or in one of its sub directories, those files are read as JUNIT test result XML files. The test results are then made available for viewing from the oVirt CI Jenkins server. Test results are also tracked over time and changes can be tracked and analysed across builds.
  • Findbugs XML reports - If any *.xml files are found in the exported-artifacts/findbugs directory, they are read as Findbugs result reports and made available for viewing via the ovirt CI Jenkins UI.

Collecting container images

While container images can be store as plain files, it is typically not very efficient to do so, instead, containers are typically stored in a deddicated container storage.

The convention for handling of containers by the oVirt CI system is that when building containers, a project would leave then on the build host's container storage and tag then with the exported-artifacts tag. The CI system would then pick up the containers and make them available for use from a dedicated container repository.

Instruction on how to access the uploaded container images will be displayed in the job results screen.

The dedicated container registry is currently simply an account on DockerHub, this may be subject to change in the future.

Running Build and test Stages

There are two major ways to run build and test stages:

  1. Run stages locally on a developer's machine
  2. Have stages run automatically by a CI system

Running build and test stages locally

Running build and stages locally can be very useful when developing stage functionality scrips. It can be also useful as a quick way to get a project built or tested without having to worry about the project's specific build or test requirements.

The currently available tool for running Standard-CI stages locally is for more details see Using mock_runner to run Standard-CI stages.

Having build and test stages run by a CI system

To have an automated CI system run build stages typically involves submitting the code changes to a central source code management (SCM) system such as Gerrit or GitHub and having the CI system pickup changes from there.

oVirt's CI system supports testing code for projects stored on oVirt's own Gerrit server or on GitHub under the oVirt project. There are currently different configuration procedures for projects on Gerrit and GitHub. Work is under way to make the two look and feel the same.

To learn how to setup use the oVirt CI system with projects hosted on oVirt's Gerrit, please refer to Using oVirt Standard-CI with Gerrit.

To learn how to setup use the oVirt CI system with projects hosted on GitHub, please refer to Using oVirt Standard-CI with GitHub.