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Getting started with stb tester

David Röthlisberger edited this page Feb 22, 2019 · 15 revisions

The following instructions assume a basic knowledge of the Unix command line and of your system's package manager, and that you have read Introducing stb-tester.

Install stb-tester

We officially support Ubuntu 18.04, 64-bit.

On Ubuntu

We provide pre-built packages for Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04 via an Ubuntu Personal Package Archive (PPA).

  • Add the PPA:

      sudo apt-get install software-properties-common  # for "add-apt-repository"
      sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stb-tester/stb-tester
      sudo apt-get update
  • Install stb-tester:

      sudo apt-get install stb-tester
  • When a new stb-tester version is released, run this to upgrade:

      sudo apt-get update
      sudo apt-get upgrade stb-tester

On Windows or Mac OS X

If you don't need video-capture capabilities (for example, if you just want to develop testcases to be run on an stb-tester ONE) see stbt-docker.

Otherwise, your best option is to run stb-tester inside a Linux Virtual Machine (VM). Check out the stb-tester source code from github and follow the instructions under extra/vm/.

However, we have found the VM solution to be quite problematic when it comes to hardware support (video-capture and infrared hardware). For a smoother experience consider buying an stb-tester ONE appliance; all you'll need to install on your OS X or Windows PC is a web browser, your favourite IDE, and git.

Set up the stb-tester configuration file

Create the file ~/.config/stbt/stbt.conf (where "~" means your home directory) with this content:

source_pipeline = videotestsrc is-live=true
sink_pipeline = xvimagesink sync=false
control = test


This format is known as "ini-file" format. The first line starts a section called "global". The next three lines specify keys in the "global" section.

  • global.source_pipeline tells stb-tester how to capture video from the device under test,
  • global.sink_pipeline specifies how to display that video while stb-tester is running, and
  • global.control specifies how to control the device under test.

Keys in the "global" section apply to all (or most) of stb-tester's command-line tools. The next section ("record") only applies to the stbt record tool, which we'll see in a minute.

  • record.control_recorder specifies how stbt record reads remote-control button presses to record a test script.

For help on these configuration settings, see "Options" in the stbt(1) man page. For now we have specified stb-tester's built-in video test source and the corresponding test control, just so that you can follow the next few examples without having to worry about the complexities of real video-capture hardware. We'll get to real hardware soon.

Record a test script

Now let's run stb-tester to record a test script:

stbt record

You should see a window with the test pattern shown below:

stbt is stb-tester's command-line tool; I like to pronounce it "stibbit". stbt record will start recording a test script that can be run later with stbt run.

stbt record will listen for remote-control keypresses on the control_recorder we configured (standard input, that is, the keyboard), and it will forward those keypresses to the system under test using the control we configured (stb-tester's built-in test control).

Now type gamut into the terminal (and press return) and notice that the video pattern has changed. Now type checkers-8 (return), then snow (return), then finish with Control-D or Control-C.

Edit the test script

stbt record has created and three png screenshots. Use an image editor to crop the first two screenshots to what you want your test script to match. When capturing from a real set-top box, this is most likely to be a GUI element like a button or a logo.

The third screenshot (if you typed snow into standard input as per the instructions in the previous section) will be random noise so whatever area you crop is unlikely to be found as an exact match when you re-run the test case; delete this screenshot.

Edit the test script to:

import stbt'gamut')

The test script is written in the Python programming language. You can use any Python feature, including Python's standard libraries; you can also use third-party Python libraries if you have them installed on your system. takes a string that must be understood by the control specified in the configuration file.

stbt.wait_for_match looks for the specified image in the source video stream. The image can be specified as an absolute path, or a relative path from the location of the test script. It will raise a stbt.MatchTimeout exception if no match is found.

stbt.wait_for_motion looks for changes in consecutive frames of the source video stream. It will raise a stbt.MotionTimeout exception if no motion is detected.

The stbt Python API is documented under "Test script format" in the stbt(1) man page.

Note that if you want your test script to be the slightest bit maintainable, you should rename the screenshots to something that reflects their content.

Once you start writing more complex scripts and reusing elements from previous scripts, you might find that stbt record is too tedious. We prefer to write the test scripts manually, and capture screenshots using stbt screenshot. Run stbt screenshot --help for details.

Test the test script

Now use stbt run to try the test script we just recorded:

stbt run --verbose

Check stbt's exit status (type echo $?) for success or failure. Read our Unix Shell tutorial if you aren't familiar with process exit statuses on Unix.

Test running & reporting

Let's pretend that the above test script is designed to reproduce an intermittent defect, so we want to run it over and over again. stbt batch is stb-tester's bulk test-runner and reporting system:

mkdir results  # Make a directory where you want to store the test results
cd results
stbt batch run /path/to/  # Give the actual path to the test script

After the test has run a few times, press Control-C to stop it. Now open index.html in your web browser. You should see a report somewhat like this:

Each row represents one test run. Clicking on a row will reveal the test artifacts: Logs from stbt and from your python script, and a video recording of the test run.

stbt batch can run more that one test script, and it can run the tests just once, repeatedly until one of them fails, or in soak (forever, until you kill it). Type stbt batch run -h for help.

Your test scripts can create additional artifacts (logs) just by writing to the current working directory -- these will appear in the stbt batch html report. You can also add arbitrary columns to the table of test runs (for example, if your test script is measuring channel-change time you can log that data to a column). And you can write classify scripts to automatically populate the "failure reason" column for known failures, to save manual triaging effort. For more details see stbt batch: Stb-tester’s bulk test running & reporting tool.

Use real hardware

The following diagram shows a setup that uses the Hauppauge HD PVR for video capture, a USB infrared emitter for controlling the system under test, and a USB infrared receiver for recording tests.

Real video source

Using video from a real device-under-test is simply a matter of replacing stb-tester's global.source_pipeline configuration value. See Video-capture hardware for DIY stb-tester rigs for the source_pipeline configuration for various video-capture hardware.

Test your source_pipeline configuration by running stbt tv.

If you have trouble getting your video-capture hardware to work, read the Appendix: Gstreamer primer below.

Real control mechanism

Stb-tester supports various control mechanisms. Which one you choose depends on the type of device you want to test.

Infrared remote control: Stb-tester supports LIRC-compatible USB infra-red emitters, and the network-controlled RedRat irNetBox. For configuration instructions see Infrared hardware for DIY stb-tester rigs.

Network-based remote control: Some Smart TVs can be controlled over the network. Currently stb-tester supports Samsung TVs; see the documentation for "control" in the stbt(1) man page for configuration details.

For other control methods, add your own receiver and emitter code and send us a pull request on github.

stbt control

stbt control is an interactive command-line tool for when you want to manually control your device-under-test by using stb-tester's control hardware instead of the remote control unit that shipped with your device-under-test. Used in conjunction with stbt tv it allows you to manually interact with a device that isn't necessarily on your desk or even in the same room.

You'll need to create a keymap file that maps from keys on your computer keyboard to key names in your LIRC (or irNetBox, etc) configuration file. Run stbt control --help for details (and run stbt --help to see what other stbt commands are available).

You can also use stbt control as the control recorder for stbt record. See the documentation for "control" in the stbt(1) man page for configuration details.

Multiple devices under test

Once you start working with multiple devices under test connected to a single PC (each with its own video-capture and control hardware), you can keep a separate configuration file for each device under test and set the environment variable STBT_CONFIG_FILE to point to the appropriate configuration file before running stbt. See our Unix Shell tutorial if you're not familiar with environment variables.

Get in touch

If you have found stb-tester useful, or just intriguing, or you have any questions, let us know! You'll find us on the mailing list.

Appendix: GStreamer primer

Stb-tester is built on top of GStreamer, a library of media-handling components. GStreamer has two release series that are not compatible with each other but that can both be installed at the same time: GStreamer 0.10 and GStreamer 1.x[1]. Stb-tester uses GStreamer 1.x.

Once you have installed stb-tester, you can verify that GStreamer is installed correctly by running this:

gst-launch-1.0 videotestsrc ! autovideosink

You should see an X window with the test pattern shown below:

gst-launch-1.0 takes a GStreamer pipeline — the "!" is the GStreamer equivalent of the Unix pipe "|". The videotestsrc element generates a video stream; autovideosink displays it using the best sink available.

Instead of autovideosink you could choose a specific sink such as ximagesink or xvimagesink to use the X-Windows or XVideo APIs, respectively. Or fakesink, which is a null sink--but then you won't see anything at all. Or udpsink to stream the video to a udpsrc on another computer. Or filesink to save the raw data to disk.

GStreamer elements can be configured by setting their properties:

gst-launch-1.0 videotestsrc pattern=snow ! autovideosink

Use gst-inspect-1.0 to list an element's properties:

gst-inspect-1.0 videotestsrc

Unlike videotestsrc, some source elements provide compressed video. For example, the Hauppauge HD PVR produces an MPEG-TS container with H.264-encoded video. So with the Hauppauge device we need the following pipeline:

gst-launch-1.0 v4l2src device=/dev/video0 ! tsdemux ! h264parse ! \
    decodebin ! videoconvert ! autovideosink

v4l2src is a source element that should work with any device with Video-for-Linux drivers. tsdemux demultiplexes an MPEG-TS container into its component programs (here we only care about the first --and only-- video program). h264parse parses the stream and adds the extracted metadata --needed by the downstream GStreamer elements-- to each frame. decodebin picks the appropriate decoder and outputs raw video. videoconvert performs colorspace conversion (for example from YUV to RGB) if the sink doesn't support the colorspace from decodebin.

If you're using Fedora, you'll have to install the H.264 decoder manually by installing gstreamer1-libav from the RPM Fusion free repository. On Ubuntu this will have been installed already by the stb-tester package.

Stb-tester's global.source_pipeline configuration key takes a fragment of a GStreamer pipeline -- everything up to (but not including) the decodebin.

Make sure you get your own video capture pipeline working with gst-launch-1.0 before attempting to use it with stbt. Debugging a GStreamer pipeline can be difficult, so make sure that you understand all the GStreamer concepts we've covered so far. Read the output from gst-launch-1.0 carefully. If you get a "not negotiated" error, check that each element's source capabilities[2] match the sink capabilities of the element it's linked to. If there's an incompatibility between raw video formats, use the videoconvert element to convert. Try enabling debug logging[3] for one element at a time (if you enable debug for all elements at once, you'll be overwhelmed by thousands of lines of output).

  1. On Fedora, for example, GStreamer 0.10 packages are called "gstreamer", "gstreamer-plugins-base", etc., while GStreamer 1.x packages are "gstreamer1", "gstreamer1-plugins-base", etc.

  2. See "Media Formats and Pad Capabilities" in the GStreamer SDK tutorial.

  3. See "Debugging tools" in the GStreamer SDK tutorial.

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