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Automated VM Creation and Testing

Bob edited this page Sep 12, 2013 · 9 revisions
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We now have the ability to automatically build and test Mininet VM images.

Automated VM Creation

The mininet/util/vm/ script can automate creation of .ovf VM images as follows: raring32server takes a list of build flavors, which may be listed using --list

Important notes:

  • By default, will create a vmtest directory in your home directory and store cached ISOs and base VM images there. This feature is not configurable at this time.

  • The first time a new flavor is used, its ISO installer image will be downloaded and a base image will be created (i.e. a basic Ubuntu installation including the mininet user.)

  • If the base image is already there, it will be reused as the base image for the copy-on-write .qcow2 image created during the build process.

  • VM images and ISOs are large and can fill up your storage very quickly.

  • By default, creates a .qcow2 disk image and converts it into a .vmdk image, which can be used by (kvm, VirtualBox, VMware, etc.)

  • By default, the .qcow2 image is deleted after it is converted into a .vmdk; if you specify the --qcow2 option, then that image will not be deleted (but the .vmdk will still be created.)

  • By default, VM output (from base image creation as well as Mininet VM installation) is logged to log files; specifying the -v (--verbose) option overrides this behavior and logs VM output to the console; this can make it easier to monitor the progress of the script if it is being run interactively.

  • By default, the script uses kvm with hardware acceleration; I routinely use this within a VMware VM using the nested virtualization feature of VMware Fusion (which you need to enable in the VM's processor settings.) You can test whether kvm can be used by using the command kvm-ok. If kvm cannot be used, you can revert to qemu's TCG emulation by specifying the -n (--nokvm) option to Note that software emulation may be much slower than hardware virtualization, but it should still work (although performance-sensitive tests such as test_hifi may fail.)

Automated VM testing

Once a VM image has been created, it can also be booted automatically for additional testing.

The script also has the ability to test existing VM images. For example: --image mininet-raring32server.vmdk --test core

will boot a VM from disk image mininet-raring32server.vmdk and run the core test. ( -h will list available tests.)

Additionally, you can specify a branch to check out and test in the VM, for example --image mininet-vm.vmdk --branch devel/myfeature --test sanity

would boot from the specified image, check out the devel/myfeature branch from the Mininet github repository, and run the sanity test.


  • Currently the script runs a simple sanity test (--test pingall) as well as the Mininet core tests (make test); the entire boot and test completes in less than 90 seconds on my laptop.

  • In the future, we will add the option to specify additional (and lengthier) tests.

  • As part of the boot, the kernel and initial RAM disk (initrd) are extracted from the image; this is necessary so that we can boot the VM with a serial console for pexpect

  • The base disk image should be unaffected by the test process, since it is only used as backing store for a COW (copy-on-write) image, which is used for all changes to the file system and is deleted after VM shutdown.

  • The boot and test procedure creates a temporary directory for temporary files (kernel, initrd, COW image) and deletes if upon completion.