[Intel-gfx] [RFC/Draft] Testing requirements for upstream drm/i915 patches

Daniel Vetter daniel.vetter at intel.com
Wed Oct 30 17:00:55 CET 2013

[This is cross-posted to the public intel-gfx mailing list at 
I'll also present a quick overview of this at Gavin's kernel PDT next week.]

Hi all,

So in the past half year we've had tons of sometimes rather heated 
about getting patches merged. Often these discussions have been in the 
of specific patch series, which meant that people are already invested. 
contributed to the boiling emotions. I'd like to avoid that here by 
making this
a free-standing discussion.

There's a bunch of smaller process tuning going on, but the big thing 
I'd like
to instate henceforth is that automated test coverage is a primary 
for anything going upstream. In this write up I'll detail my reasons,
considerations and expectations. My plan is to solicit feedback over the 
few days and then publish an edited and polished version to my blog.

After that I'll put down my foot on this process so that we can go back to
coding and stop blowing through so much time and energy on waging flamewars.

Feedback and critique highly welcome.

Cheers, Daniel

Testing Requirements for Upstreaming (Draft)

I want to make automated test coverage an integral part of our feature 
and bufix
development process. For features this means that starting with the 
design phase
testability needs to be considered an integral part of any feature. This 
to go up through the entire development process until when the 
implementation is
submitted together with the proposed tests. For bugfixes that means the 
fix is
only complete once the automated testcase for it is also done, if we 
need a new

This specifically excludes testing with humans somewhere in the loop. We are
extremely limited in our validation resources, every time we put 
something new
onto the "manual testing" plate something else _will_ fall off.


- More predictability. Right now test coverage often only comes up as a 
   when I drop my maintainer review onto a patch series. Which is too 
late, since
   it'll delay the otherwise working patches and so massively frustrates 
   I hope by making test requirements clear and up-front we can make the
   upstreaming process more predictable. Also, if we have good tests 
from the get-go
   there should be much less need for me to drop patches from my trees
   after having them merged.

- Less bikeshedding. In my opinion test cases are an excellent means to 
   bikesheds - we've had in the past seen cases of endless back&forths
   where writing a simple testcase would have shown that _all_ proposed
   color flavours are actually broken.

   The even more important thing is that fully automated tests allow us to
   legitimately postpone cleanups. If the only testing we have is manual 
   then we have only one shot at a feature tested, namely when the developer
   tests it. So it better be perfect. But with automated tests we can 
   cleanups with too high risks of regressions until a really clear need is
   established. And since that need often never materializes we'll save 

- Better review. For me it's often helps a lot to review tests than the 
   code in-depth. This is especially true for reviewing userspace interface

- Actionable regression reports. Only if we have a fully automated 
testcase do
   we have a good chance that QA reports a regression within just a few 
   Everything else can easily take weeks (for platforms and features 
which are
   explicitly tested) to months (for stuff only users from the community 
   And especially now that much more shipping products depend upon a working
   i915.ko driver we just can't do this any more.

- Better tests. A lot of our code is really hard to test in an automated
   fashion, and pushing the frontier of what is testable often requires 
a lot of
   work. I hope that by making tests an integral part of any feature 
work and so
   forcing more people to work on them and think about testing we'll
   advance the state of the art at a brisker pace.

Risks and Buts

- Bikeshedding on tests. This plan is obviously not too useful if we just
   replace massive bikeshedding on patches with massive bikeshedding on
   testcases. But right now we do almost no review on i-g-t patches so 
the risk
   is small. Long-term the review requirements for testcases will certainly
   increase, but as with everything else we simply need to strive for a good
   balance to strike for just the right amount of review.

   Also if we really start discussing tests _before_ having written 
massive patch
   series we'll do the bikeshedding while there's no real rebase pain. 
So even if
   the bikeshedding just shifts we'll benefit I think, especially for
   really big features.

- Technical debt in test coverage. We have a lot of old code which still
   completely lacks testcases. Which means that even small feature work 
might be
   on the hook for a big pile of debt restructuring. I think this is 
   occasionally. But I think that doing an assement of the current state of
   test coverage of the existing code _before_ starting a feature instead
   of when the patches are ready for merging should help a lot, before
   everyone is invested into patches already and mounting rebase pain looms

   Again we need to strive for a good balance between "too many tests to 
   up-front for old code" and "needs for tests that only the final review
   uncovers creating process bubbles".

- Upstreaming of product stuff. Product guys are notoriuosly busy and 
   tests is actual work. Otoh the upstream codebase feeds back into 
_all_ product
   trees (and the upstream kernel), so requirements are simply a bit 
higher. And
   I also don't think that we can push the testing of some features fully to
   product teams, since they'll be pissed really quickly if every update 
they get
   from us breaks their stuff. So if these additional test requirements 
   to the past) means that some product patches won't get merged, then I 
   that's the right choice.

- But ... all the other kernel drivers don't do this. We're also one of the
   biggest driver's in the kernel, with a code churn rate roughly 5x 
worse than
   anything else and a pretty big (and growing) team. Also, we're often the
   critical path in enabling new platforms in the fast-paced mobile space.
   Different standards apply.


Since the point here is to make the actual test requirements known 
up-front we
need to settle on clear expectations. Since this is the part that actually
matters in practice I'll really welcome close scrutiny and comments here.

- Tests must fully cover userspace interfaces. By this I mean exercising 
all the
   possible options, especially the usual tricky corner cases (e.g. 
   array sizes, overflows). It also needs to include tests for all the
   userspace input validation (i.e. correctly rejecting invalid input,
   including checks for the error codes). For userspace interface additions
   technical debt really must be addressed. This means that when adding a
   new flag and we currently don't have any tests for those flags, then
   I'll ask for a testcase which fully exercises all the flag values we
   currently support on top of the new interface addition.

- Tests need to provide a reasonable baseline coverage of the internal 
   state. The idea here isn't to aim for full coverage, that's an 
impossible and
   pointless endeavor. The goal is to have a good starting point of 
tests so that
   when a tricky corner case pops up in review or validation that it's not a
   terribly big effort to add a specific testcase for it.

- Issues discovered in review and final validation need automated test 
   The reasoning is that anything which slipped the developer's attention is
   tricky enough to warrant an explicit testcase, since in a later 
   there's a good chance that it'll be missed again. This has a bit a risk
   to delay patches, but if the basic test coverage is good enough as per
   the previous point it really shouln't be an issue.

- Finally we need to push the testable frontier with new ideas like pipe 
   modeset state cross checking or arbitrary monitor configuration injection
   (with fixed EDIDs and connector state forcing). The point here is to 
   new crazy ideas, and the expectation is very much _not_ that 
developers then
   need to write testcases for all the old bugfixes that suddenly became
   testable. That workload needs to be spread out over a bunch of features
   touching the relevant area. This only really applies to features and
   code paths which are currently in the "not testable" bucket anyway.

This should specify the "what" decently enough, but we also need to look 
at how
tests should work.

Specific testcases in i-g-t are obviously the preferred form, but for some
features that's just not possible. In such cases in-kernel self-checks like
the modeset state checker of fifo underrun reporting are really good
approaches. Two ceaveats apply:

- The test infrastructure really should be orthogonal to the code being 
   In-line asserts that check for preconditions are really nice and 
useful, but
   since they're closely tied to the code itself have a good chance to 
be broken
   in the same ways.

- The debug feature needs to be enabled by default, and it needs to be loud.
   Otherwise no one will notice that something is amiss. So currently 
the fifo
   underrun reporting doesn't really count since it only causes debug level
   output when something goes wrong. Of course it's still a really good 
tool for
   developers, just not yet for catching regressions.

Finally the short lists of excuses that don't count as proper test 
coverage for
a feature.

- Manual testing. We are ridiculously limited on our QA manpower. Every 
time we
   drop something onto the "manual testing" plate something else _will_ 
drop off.
   Which means in the end that we don't really have any test coverage. So
   if patches don't come with automated tests, in-kernel cross-checking or
   some other form of validation attached they need to have really good
   reasons for doing so.

- Testing by product teams. The entire point of Intel OTC's "upstream first"
   strategy is to have a common codebase for everyone. If we break 
product trees
   every time we feed an update into them because we can't properly 
   test a given feature then the value of upstreaming features is greatly
   diminished in my opinion and could potentially doom collaborations with
   product teams. We just can't have that.

   This means that when products teams submit patches upstream they also 
   to submit the relevant testcases to i-g-t.
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