Lava Dispatcher Design

This is the developer documentation for the new V2 dispatcher design. See Advanced Use Cases for information for lab administrators and users of the new design.

The refactoring takes place alongside the V1 dispatcher and existing JSON jobs are unaffected. A migration will take place where individual devices are configured for pipeline support and individual jobs are then re-written using the pipeline_schema. The administrator of each instance will be able to manage their own migration and at some point after has completed the migration of all devices to pipeline support, the support for the current dispatcher will be removed. supports LAVA V2 pipeline submissions as of the 2016.2 release and the V2 support will continue to expand in subsequent releases.

The LAVA developers use a playground instance for testing of selected changes prior to merging into master. There is also a staging instance for testing of the current master branch and release candidates for the next production release.

Devices indicate their support for pipeline jobs in the detailed device information for each device and device type.

Pipeline Architecture


Principal changes

  1. Database isolation - Only the master daemon has a connection to the database. This simplifies the architecture and avoids the use of fault-intolerant database connections to remote workers.
  2. Drop use of SSHFS between workers and master - this was awkward to configure and problematic over external connections.
  3. Move configuration onto the master - The worker becomes a simple slave which receives all configuration and tasks from the master.


The new dispatcher design is intended to make it easier to adapt the dispatcher flow to new boards, new mechanisms and new deployments. It also shifts support to do less work on the dispatcher, make fewer assumptions about the test in the dispatcher configuration and put more flexibility into the hands of the test writer.


The new code is still developing, some areas are absent, some areas will change substantially before the migration completes. There may be changes to the submission formats but these will be announced on the lava-announce mailing list.

From 2015.8 onwards the sample jobs supporting the unit tests conform to the Pipeline schema.


Start with a Job which is broken up into a Deployment, a Boot and a Test class. Results are transmitted live during any part of the job.


The Job manages the Actions using a Pipeline structure. Actions can specialise actions by using internal pipelines and an Action can include support for retries and other logical functions:


If a Job includes one or more Test definitions, the Deployment can then extend the Deployment to overlay the LAVA test scripts without needing to mount the image twice:


The TestDefinitionAction has a similar structure with specialist tasks being handed off to cope with particular tools:


Following the code flow

Filename Role
lava/dispatcher/ Command line arguments, call to YAML parser
lava_dispatcher/pipeline/ YAML Parser to create the Device object
lava_dispatcher/pipeline/ YAML Parser to create the Job object
....pipeline/actions/deploy/ Handlers for different deployment strategies
....pipeline/actions/boot/ Handlers for different boot strategies
....pipeline/actions/test/ Handlers for different LavaTestShell strategies
....pipeline/actions/deploy/ DeployImages strategy creates DeployImagesAction
....pipeline/actions/deploy/ DeployImagesAction.populate adds deployment actions to the Job pipeline
*repeat for each strategy* each populate function adds more Actions
....pipeline/ Pipeline.run_actions() to start

The deployment is determined from the device_type specified in the Job (or the device_type of the specified target) by reading the list of support methods from the device_types YAML configuration.

Each Action can define an internal pipeline and add sub-actions in the Action.populate function.

Particular Logic Actions (like RetryAction) require an internal pipeline so that all actions added to that pipeline can be retried in the same order. (Remember that actions must be idempotent.) Actions which fail with a JobError or InfrastructureError can trigger Diagnostic actions. See Logical actions.

      - image
      - image

This then matches the python class structure:


The class defines the list of Action classes needed to implement this deployment. See also Dispatcher Action Reference.

Pipeline construction and flow

The pipeline is a FIFO and has branches which are handled as a tree walk. The top level object is the job, based on the YAML definition supplied by the dispatcher-master. The definition is processed by the scheduler and the submission interface with information specific to the actual device. The processed definition is parsed to generate the top level pipeline and strategy classes. Each strategy class adds a top level action to the top level pipeline. The top level action then populates branches containing more actions.

Actions are populated, validated and executed in strict order. The next action in any branch waits until all branches of the preceding action have completed. Populating an action in a pipeline creates a level string, e.g. all actions in level 1.2.1, including all actions in sublevel are executed before the pipeline moves on to processing level 1.3 or 2:

Deploy (1)
   \___ 1.1
   \ __ 1.2
   |     |
   |     \_ 1.2.1
   |     |   |
   |     |   \_
   |     |   |
   |     |   \_
   |     |         |
   |     |         \__
   |     |
   |     \__1.2.2
  Boot (2)
   \_ 2.1
   \_ 2.2
  1. One device per job. One top level pipeline per job
    • loads only the configuration required for this one job.
  2. A NewDevice is built from the target specified (
  3. A Job is generated from the YAML by the parser.
  4. The top level Pipeline is constructed by the parser.
  5. Strategy classes are initialised by the parser
    1. Strategy classes add the top level Action for that strategy to the top level pipeline.
    2. Top level pipeline calls populate() on each top level Action added.
      1. Each Action.populate() function may construct one internal pipeline, based on parameters.
      2. internal pipelines call populate() on each Action added.
      3. A sublevel is set for each action in the internal pipeline. Level 1 creates 1.1 and level 2.3.2 creates
  6. Parser waits while each Strategy completes branch population.
  7. Parser adds the FinalizeAction to the top-level pipeline
  8. Loghandlers are set up
  9. Job validates the completed pipeline
    1. Dynamic data can be added to the context
  10. If --validate not specified, the job runs.
    1. Each run() function can add dynamic data to the context and/or results to the pipeline.
    2. Pipeline walks along the branches, executing actions.
  11. Job ends, check for errors
  12. Completed pipeline is available.

Using strategy classes

Strategies are ways of meeting the requirements of the submitted job within the limits of available devices and code support.

If an internal pipeline would need to allow for optional actions, those actions still need to be idempotent. Therefore, the pipeline can include all actions, with each action being responsible for checking whether anything actually needs to be done. The populate function should avoid using conditionals. An explicit select function can be used instead.

Whenever there is a need for a particular job to use a different Action based solely on job parameters or device configuration, that decision should occur in the Strategy selection using classmethod support.

Where a class is used in lots of different strategies, identify whether there is a match between particular strategies always needing particular options within the class. At this point, the class can be split and particular strategies use a specialised class implementing the optional behaviour and calling down to the base class for the rest.

If there is no clear match, for example in where any particular job could use a different VCS or URL without actually being a different strategy, a select function is preferable. A select handler allows the pipeline to contain only classes supporting git repositories when only git repositories are in use for that job.

The list of available strategies can be determined in the codebase from the module imports in the file for each action type.

This results in more classes but a cleaner (and more predictable) pipeline construction.

Lava test shell scripts


See Refactoring review criteria - it is a mistake to think of the LAVA test support scripts as an overlay - the scripts are an extension to the test. Wherever possible, current deployments are being changed to supply the extensions alongside the deployment instead of overlaying, and thereby altering, the deployment.

The LAVA scripts are a standard addition to a LAVA test and are handled as a single unit. Using idempotent actions, the test script extension can support LMP or MultiNode or other custom requirements without requiring this support to be added to all tests. The extensions are created during the deploy strategy and specific deployments can override the ApplyExtensionAction to unpack the extension tarball alongside the test during the deployment phase and then mount the extension inside the image. The tarball itself remains in the output directory and becomes part of the test records. The checksum of the overlay is added to the test job log.

Pipeline error handling

RuntimeError Exception

Runtime errors include:

  1. Parser fails to handle device configuration
  2. Parser fails to handle submission YAML
  3. Parser fails to locate a Strategy class for the Job.
  4. Code errors in Action classes cause Pipeline to fail.
  5. Errors in YAML cause errors upon pipeline validation.

Each runtime error is a bug in the code - wherever possible, implement a unit test to prevent regressions.

InfrastructureError Exception

Infrastructure errors include:

  1. Missing dependencies on the dispatcher
  2. Device configuration errors

JobError Exception

Job errors include:

  1. Failed to find the specified URL.
  2. Failed in an operation to create the necessary extensions.

TestError Exception

Test errors include:

  1. Failed to handle a signal generated by the device
  2. Failed to parse a test case

Result bundle identifiers

Old style result bundles are assigned a text based UUID during submission. This has several issues:

  • The UUID is not sequential or predictable, so finding this one, the next one or the previous one requires a database lookup for each. The new dispatcher model will not have a persistent database connection.
  • The UUID is not available to the dispatcher while running the job, so cannot be cross-referenced to logs inside the job.
  • The UUID makes the final URL of individual test results overly long, unmemorable and complex, especially as the test run is also given a separate UUID in the old dispatcher model.

The new dispatcher creates a pipeline where every action within the pipeline is guaranteed to have a unique level string which is strictly sequential, related directly to the type of action and shorter than a UUID. To make a pipeline result unique on a per instance basis, the only requirement is that the result includes the JobID which is a sequential number, passed to the job in the submission YAML. This could also have been a UUID but the JobID is already a unique ID for this instance.

When bundles are downloaded, the database query will need to assign a UUID to that downloaded file but the file will also include the job number and the query can also insert the source of the bundle in a comment in the YAML. This will allow bundles to be uploaded to a different instance using lava-tool without the risk of collisions. It is also possible that the results could provide a link back to the original job log file and other data - if the original server is visible to users of the server to which the bundle was later uploaded.

Refactoring review criteria

The refactored dispatcher has different objectives to the original and any assumptions in the old code must be thrown out. It is very easy to fall into the old way of writing dispatcher code, so these criteria are to help developers control the development of new code. Any of these criteria can be cited in a code review as reasons for a review to be improved.

Keep the dispatcher dumb

There is a temptation to make the dispatcher clever but this only restricts the test writer from doing their own clever tests by hard coding commands into the dispatcher codebase. If the dispatcher needs some information about the test image, that information must be retrieved from the job submission parameters, not by calculating in the dispatcher or running commands inside the test image. Exceptions to this are the metrics already calculated during download, like file size and checksums. Any information about the test image which is permanent within that image, e.g. the partition UUID strings or the network interface list, can be identified by the process creating that image or by a script which is run before the image is compressed and made available for testing. If a test uses a tarball instead of an image, the test must be explicit about the filesystem to use when unpacking that tarball for use in the test as well as the size and location of the partition to use.

LAVA will need to implement some safeguards for tests which still need to deploy any test data to the media hosting the bootloader (e.g. fastboot, SD card or UEFI) in order to avoid overwriting the bootloader itself. Therefore, although SD card partitions remain available for LAVA tests where no other media are supportable by the device, those tests can only use tarballs and pre-defined partitions on the SD card. The filesystem to use on those partitions needs to be specified by the test writer.

Avoid defaults in dispatcher code

Constants and defaults are going to need an override somewhere for some device or test, eventually. Code defensively and put constants into the utilities module to support modification. Put defaults into the YAML, not the python code. It is better to have an extra line in the device_type than a string in the python code as this can later be extended to a device or a job submission.

Let the test fail and diagnose later

Avoid guessing in LAVA code. If any operation in the dispatcher could go in multiple paths, those paths must be made explicit to the test writer. Report the available data, proceed according to the job definition and diagnose the state of the device afterwards, where appropriate.

Avoid trying to be helpful in the test image. Anticipating an error and trying to code around it is a mistake. Possible solutions include but are not limited to:

  • Provide an optional, idempotent, class which only acts if a specific option is passed in the job definition. e.g. AutoLoginAction.
  • Provide a diagnostic class which triggers if the expected problem arises. Report on the actual device state and document how to improve the job submission to avoid the problem in future.
  • Split the deployment strategy to explicitly code for each possible path.

AutoLogin is a good example of the problem here. For too long, LAVA has made assumptions about the incoming image, requiring hacks like linaro-overlay packages to be added to basic bootstrap images or disabling passwords for the root user. These helpful steps act to make it harder to use unchanged third party images in LAVA tests. AutoLogin is the de facto default for non-Linaro images.

Another example is the assumption in various parts of LAVA that the test image will raise a network interface and repeatedly calling ping on the assumption that the interface will appear, somehow, eventually.

Treat the deployment as a black box

LAVA has claimed to do this for a long time but the refactored dispatcher is pushing this further. Do not think of the LAVA scripts as an overlay, the LAVA scripts are extensions. When a test wants an image deployed, the LAVA extensions should be deployed alongside the image and then mounted to create a /lava-$hostname/ directory. Images for testing within LAVA are no longer broken up or redeployed but must be deployed intact. This avoids LAVA needing to know anything about issues like SELinux or specific filesystems but may involve multiple images for systems like Android where data may exist on different physical devices.

Only protect the essential components

LAVA has had a tendency to hardcode commands and operations and there are critical areas which must still be protected from changes in the test but these critical areas are restricted to:

  1. The dispatcher.
  2. Unbricking devices.

Any process which has to run on the dispatcher itself must be fully protected from mistakes within tests. This means that all commands to be executed by the dispatcher are hardcoded into the dispatcher python code with only limited support for overriding parameters or specifying tainted user data.

Tests are prevented from requiring new software to be installed on any dispatcher which is not already a dependency of lava-dispatcher. Issues arising from this need to be resolved using MultiNode.

Until such time as there is a general and reliable method of deploying and testing new bootloaders within LAVA tests, the bootloader / firmware installed by the lab admin is deemed sacrosanct and must not be altered or replaced in a test job. However, bootloaders are generally resilient to errors in the commands, so the commands given to the bootloader remain accessible to test writers.

It is not practical to scan all test definitions for potentially harmful commands. If a test inadvertently corrupts the SD card in such a way that the bootloader is corrupted, that is an issue for the lab admins to take up with the test submitter.

Give the test writer enough rope

Within the provisos of Only protect the essential components, the test writer needs to be given enough rope and then let LAVA diagnose issues after the event.

There is no reason to restrict the test writer to using LAVA commands inside the test image - as long as the essential components remain protected.


  1. KVM devices need to protect the QEMU command line because these commands run on the dispatcher
  2. VM devices running on an arndale do not need the command line to be coded within LAVA. There have already been bug reports on this issue.

Diagnostic subclasses report on the state of the device after some kind of error. This reporting can include:

  • The presence or absence of expected files (like /dev/disk/by-id/ or /proc/net/pnp).
  • Data about running processes or interfaces, e.g. ifconfig

It is a mistake to attempt to calculate data about a test image - instead, require that the information is provided and diagnose the actual information if the attempt to use the specified information fails.


  1. If the command is to run inside a deployment, require that the full command line can be specified by the test writer. Remember: Avoid defaults in dispatcher code. It is recommended to have default commands where appropriate but these defaults need to support overrides in the job submission. This includes using a locally built binary instead of an executable installed in /usr/bin or similar.
  2. If the command is run on a dispatcher, require that the binary to be run on the dispatcher is actually installed on the dispatcher. If /usr/bin/git does not exist, this is a validation error. There should be no circumstances where a tool required on the dispatcher cannot be identified during validation of the pipeline.
  3. An error from running the command on the dispatcher with user-specified parameters is a JobError.
  4. Where it is safe to do so, offer overrides for supportable commandline options.

The codebase itself will help identify how much control is handed over to the test writer. self.run_command() is a dispatcher call and needs to be protected. connection.sendline() is a deployment call and does not need to be protected.

Providing gold standard images

Test writers are strongly recommended to only use a known working setup for their job. A set of gold standard jobs has been defined in association with the QA team. These jobs will provide a known baseline for test definition writers, in a similar manner as the existing QA test definitions provide a base for more elaborate testing.

There will be a series of images provided for as many device types as practical, covering the basic deployments. Test definitions will be required to be run against these images before the LAVA team will spend time investigating bugs arising from tests. These images will provide a measure of reassurance around the following issues:

  • Kernel fails to load NFS or ramdisk.
  • Kernel panics when asked to use secondary media.
  • Image containing a different kernel to the gold standard fails to deploy.

The refactoring will provide Diagnostic subclasses which point at these issues and recommend that the test is retried using the standard kernel, dtb, initramfs, rootfs and other components.

The reason to give developers enough rope is precisely so that kernel developers are able to fix issues in the test images before problems show up in the gold standard images. Test writers need to work with the QA team, using the gold standard images.

Creating a gold standard image

Part of the benefit of a standard image is that the methods for building the image - and therefore the methods for updating it, modifying it and preparing custom images based upon it - must be documented clearly.

Where possible, standard tools familiar to developers of the OS concerned should be used, e.g. debootstrap for Debian based images. The image can also be a standard OS installation. Gold standard images are not “Linaro” images and should not require Linaro tools. Use AutoLogin support where required instead of modifying existing images to add Linaro-specific tools.

All gold standard images need to be kept up to date with the base OS as many tests will want to install extra software on top and it will waste time during the test if a lot of other packages need to be updated at the same time. An update of a gold standard image still needs to be tested for equivalent or improved performance compared to the current image before replacing it.

The documentation for building and updating the image needs to be provided alongside the image itself as a README. This text file should also be reproduced on a wiki page and contain a link to that page. Any wiki can be used - if a suitable page does not already exist elsewhere, use

Other gold standard components

The standard does not have to be a complete OS image - a kernel with a DTB (and possibly an initrd) can also count as a standard ramdisk image. Similarly, a combination of kernel and rootfs can count as a standard NFS configuration.

The same requirement exists for documenting how to build, modify and update all components of the “image” and the set of components need to be tested as a whole to represent a test using the standard.

In addition, information about the prompts within the image needs to be exposed. LAVA no longer has a list of potential prompts and each job must specify a list of prompts to use for the job.

Other information should also be provided, for example, memory requirements or CPU core requirements for images to be used with QEMU or dependencies on other components (like firmware or kernel support).

Test writers need to have enough information to submit a job without needing to resubmit after identifying and providing missing data.

One or more sample test jobs is one way of providing this information but it is still recommended to provide the prompts and other information explicitly.

Secondary media

With the migration from master images on an SD card to dynamic master images over NFS, other possibilities arise from the refactoring.

  • Deploy a ramdisk, boot and deploy an entire image to a USB key, boot and direct bootloader at USB filesystem, including kernel and initrd.
  • Deploy an NFS system, boot and bootstrap an image to SATA, boot and direct bootloader at SATA filesystem, including kernel and initrd.
  • Deploy using a script written by the test author (e.g. debootstrap) which is installed in the initial deployment. Parameters for the script need to be contained within the test image.

Secondary deployments are done by the device under test, using actions defined by LAVA and tools provided by the initial deployment. Test writers need to ensure that the initial deployment has enough support to complete the second deployment. See UUID vs device node support.

Images on remote servers are downloaded to the dispatcher (and decompressed where relevant) so that the device does not need to do the decompression or need lots of storage in the initial deployment.

By keeping the downloaded image intact, it becomes possible to put the LAVA extensions alongside the image instead of inside.

To make this work, several requirements must be met:

  • The initial deployment must provide or support installation of all tools necessary to complete the second deployment - it is a TestError if there is insufficient space or the deployment cannot complete this step.
  • The initial deployment does not need enough space for the decompressed image, however, the initial deployment is responsible for writing the decompressed image to the secondary media from stdin, so the amount of memory taken up by the initial deployment can have an impact on the speed or success of the write.
  • The operation of the second deployment is an action which precedes the second boot. There is no provision for getting data back from this test shell into the boot arguments for the next boot. Any data which is genuinely persistent needs to be specified in advance.
  • LAVA manages the path to which the second deployment is written, based on the media supported by the device and the ID of that media. Where a device supports multiple options for secondary media, the job specifies which media is to be used.
  • LAVA will need to support instructions in the job definition which determine whether a failed test shell should allow or skip the boot action following.
  • LAVA will declare available media using the kernel interface as the label. A SATA drive which can only be attached to devices of a particular device type using USB is still a USB device as it is constrained by the USB interface being present in the test image kernel. A SATA drive attached to a SATA connector on the board is a SATA device in LAVA (irrespective of how the board actually delivers the SATA interface on that connector).
  • If a device has multiple media of the same type, it is up to the test writer to determine how to ensure that the correct image is booted. The blkid of a partition within an image is a permanent UUID within that image and needs to be determined in advance if this is to be used in arguments to the bootloader as the root filesystem.
  • The manufacturer ID and serial number of the hardware to be used for the secondary deployment must be set in the device configuration. This makes it possible for test images to use such support as is available (e.g. udev) to boot the correct device.
  • The job definition needs to specify which hardware to use for the second deployment - if this label is based on a device node, it is a TestError if the use of this label does not result in a successful boot.
  • The job definition also needs to specify the path to the kernel, dtb and the partition containing the rootfs within the deployed image.
  • The job definition needs to include the bootloader commands, although defaults can be provided in some cases.

UUID vs device node support

A deployment to secondary media must be done by a running kernel, not by the bootloader, so restrictions apply to that kernel:

  1. Device types with more than one media device sharing the same device interface must be identifiable in the device_type configuration. These would be devices where, if all slots were populated, a full udev kernel would find explicitly more than one /dev/sd* top level device. It does not matter if these are physically different types of device (cubietruck has usb and sata) or the same type (d01 has three sata). The device_type declares the flag: UUID-required: True for each relevant interface. For cubietruck:

    media:  # two USB slots, one SATA connector
        UUID-required: True
        UUID-required: False
  2. It is important to remember that there are five different identifiers involved across the device configuration and job submission:

    1. The ID of the device as it appears to the kernel running the deploy, provided by the device configuration: uuid. This is found in /dev/disk/by-id/ on a booted system.
    2. The ID of the device as it appears to the bootloader when reading deployed files into memory, provided by the device configuration: device_id. This can be confirmed by interrupting the bootloader and listing the filesystem contents on the specified interface.
    3. The ID of the partition to specify as root on the kernel command line of the deployed kernel when booting the kernel inside the image, set by the job submission root_uuid. Must be specified if the device has UUID-required set to True.
    4. The boot_part specified in the job submission which is the partition number inside the deployed image where the files can be found for the bootloader to execute. Files in this partition will be accessed directly through the bootloader, not via any mountpoint specified inside the image.
    5. The root_part specified in the job submission which is the partition number inside the deployed image where the root filesystem files can be found by the depoyed kernel, once booted. root_part cannot be used with root_uuid - to do so causes a JobError.

Device configuration

Media settings are per-device, based on the capability of the device type. An individual devices of a specified type may have exactly one of the available slots populated on any one interface. These individual devices would set UUID-required: False for that interface. e.g. A panda has two USB host slots. For each panda, if both slots are occupied, specify UUID-required: True in the device configuration. If only one is occupied, specify UUID-required: False. If none are occupied, comment out or remove the entire usb interface section in the configuration for that one device. List each specific device which is available as media on that interface using a humand-usable string, e.g. a Sandisk Ultra usb stick with a UUID of usb-SanDisk_Ultra_20060775320F43006019-0:0 could simply be called SanDisk_Ultra. Ensure that this label is unique for each device on the same interface. Jobs will specify this label in order to look up the actual UUID, allowing physical media to be replaced with an equivalent device without changing the job submission data.

The device configuration should always include the UUID for all media on each supported interface, even if UUID-required is False. The UUID is the recommended way to specify the media, even when not strictly required. Record the symlink name (without the path) for the top level device in /dev/disk/by-id/ for the media concerned, i.e. the symlink pointing at ../sda not the symlink(s) pointing at individual partitions. The UUID should be quoted to ensure that the YAML can be parsed correctly. Also include the device_id which is the bootloader view of the same device on this interface.

device_type: cubietruck
 connect: telnet localhost 6000
  usb:  # bootloader interface name
    UUID-required: True  # cubie1 is pretending to have two usb media attached
      uuid: "usb-SanDisk_Ultra_20060775320F43006019-0:0"  # /dev/disk/by-id/
      device_id: 0  # the bootloader device id for this media on the 'usb' interface

There is no reasonable way for the device configuration to specify the device node as it may depend on how the deployed kernel or image is configured. When this is used, the job submission must contain this data.

Deploy commands

This is an example block - the actual data values here are known not to work as the deploy step is for a panda but the boot step in the next example comes from a working cubietruck job.

This example uses a device configuration where UUID-required is True.

For simplicity, this example also omits the initial deployment and boot, at the start of this block, the device is already running a kernel with a ramdisk or rootfs which provides enough support to complete this second deployment.

# secondary media - use the first deploy to get to a system which can deploy the next
# in testing, assumed to already be deployed
- deploy:
      minutes: 10
    to: usb
    os: debian
    # not a real job, just used for unit tests
    compression: gz
    device: SanDisk_Ultra # needs to be exposed in the device-specific UI
    download: /usr/bin/wget
  1. Ensure that the deploy action has sufficient time to download the decompressed image and write that image directly to the media using STDOUT. In the example, the deploy timeout has been set to ten minutes - in a test on the panda, the actual time required to write the specified image to a USB device was around 6 minutes.
  2. Note the deployment strategy - to: usb. This is a direct mapping to the kernel interface used to deploy and boot this image. The bootloader must also support reading files over this interface.
  3. The compression method used by the specified image is explicitly set.
  4. The image is downloaded and decompressed by the dispatcher, then made available to the device to retrieve and write to the specified media.
  5. The device is specified as a label so that the correct UUID can be constructed from the device configuration data.
  6. The download tool is specified as a full path which must exist inside the currently deployed system. This tool will be used to retrieve the decompressed image from the dispatcher and pass STDOUT to dd. If the download tool is the default /usr/bin/wget, LAVA will add the following options: --no-check-certificate --no-proxy --connect-timeout=30 -S --progress=dot:giga -O - If different download tools are required for particular images, these can be specified, however, if those tools require options, the writer can either ensure that a script exists in the image which wraps those options or file a bug to have the alternative tool options supported.

The kernel inside the initial deployment MUST support UUID when deployed on a device where UUID is required, as it is this kernel which needs to make /dev/disk/by-id/$path exist for dd to use.

Boot commands

- boot:
    method: u-boot
    commands: usb
      shutdown-message: "reboot: Restarting system"
    # these files are part of the image already deployed and are known to the test writer
    kernel: /boot/vmlinuz-3.16.0-4-armmp-lpae
    ramdisk: /boot/initrd.img-3.16.0-4-armmp-lpae.u-boot
    dtb: /boot/dtb-3.16.0-4-armmp-lpae'
    root_uuid: UUID=159d17cc-697c-4125-95a0-a3775e1deabe  # comes from the supplied image.
    boot_part: 1  # the partition on the media from which the bootloader can read the kernel, ramdisk & dtb
      - 'linaro-test'
      - 'root@debian:~#'

The kernel and (if specified) the ramdisk and dtb paths are the paths used by the bootloader to load the files in order to boot the image deployed onto the secondary media. These are not necessarily the same as the paths to the same files as they would appear inside the image after booting, depending on whether any boot partition is mounted at a particular mountpoint.

The root_uuid is the full option for the root= command to the kernel, including the UUID= prefix.

The boot_part is the number of the partition from which the bootloader can read the files to boot the image. This will be combined with the device configuration interface name and device_id to create the command to the bootloader, e.g.:

"setenv loadfdt 'load usb 0:1 ${fdt_addr_r} /boot/dtb-3.16.0-4-armmp-lpae''",

The dispatcher does NOT analyze the incoming image - internal UUIDs inside an image do not change as the refactored dispatcher does not break up or reorganise the partitions. Therefore, the UUIDs of partitions inside the image MUST be declared by the job submissions.


A Connection is approximately equivalent to an automated login session on the device or within a virtual machine hosted by a device.

Each connection needs to be supported by a TestJob, the output of each connection is viewed as the output of that TestJob.

Typically, LAVA provides a serial connection to the board but other connections can be supported, including SSH or USB. Each connection method needs to be supported by software in LAVA, services within the software running on the device and other infrastructure, e.g. a serial console server.


Avoid defaults in dispatcher code - although serial is the traditional and previously default way of connecting to LAVA devices, it must be specified in the test job YAML.

The action which is responsible for creating the connection must specify the connection method.

- boot:
    method: qemu
    media: tmpfs
    connection: serial
    failure_retry: 2
      - 'linaro-test'
      - 'root@debian:~#'

Support for particular connection methods needs to be implemented at a device level, so the device also declares support for particular connection methods.


    - serial
    - ssh
    - 'linaro-test'
    - 'root@debian:~#'

Most devices are capable of supporting SSH connections, as long as:

  • the device can be configured to raise a usable network interface
  • the device is booted into a suitable software environment


A failure to connect to a Primary connection would be an InfrastructureError Exception. A failure to connect to a Secondary connection is a TestError Exception.

USB connections are planned for Android support but are not yet implemented.

Primary and Secondary connections

Primary connection

A Primary Connection is roughly equivalent to having a root SSH login on a running machine. The device needs to be powered on, running an appropriate daemon and with appropriate keys enabled for access. The TestJob for a primary connection then skips the deploy stage and uses a boot method to establish the connection. A device providing a primary connection in LAVA only provides access to that connection via a single submitted TestJob at a time - a Multinode job can make multiple connections but other jobs will see the device as busy and not be able to start their connections.


Primary connections can raise issues of Persistence - the test writer is solely responsible for deleting any sensitive data copied, prepared or downloaded using a primary connection. Do not leave sensitive data for the next TestJob to find. Wherever possible, use primary connections with schroot support so that each job is kept within a temporary chroot, thereby also allowing more than one primary (schroot) connection on a single machine.

It is not necessarily required that a device offering a primary connection is permanently powered on as the only connections being made to the device are done via the scheduler which ensures that only one TestJob can use any one device at a time. Depending on the amount of time required to boot the device, it is supported to have a device offering primary connections which is powered down between jobs.

A Primary Connection is established by the dispatcher and is therefore constrained in the options which are available to the client requesting the connection and the TestJob has no control over the arguments passed to the daemon.

Primary connections also enable the authorization via the deployment action and the overlay, where the connection method requires this.

Both Primary and Secondary connections are affected by Security issues due to the requirements of automation.

Secondary connection

Secondary connections are a way to have two simultaneous connections to the same physical device, equivalent to two logins. Each connection needs to be supported by a TestJob, so a Multinode group needs to be created so that the output of each connection can be viewed as the output of a single TestJob, just as if you had two terminals. The second connection does not have to use the same connection method as the current connection and many devices can only support secondary connections over a network interface, for example SSH or telnet.

A Secondary Connection has a deploy step and the device is already providing output over the primary connection, typically serial, before the secondary connection is established. This is closer to having the machine on your desk. The TestJob supplies the kernel and rootfs or image to boot the device and can optionally use the secondary connection to push other files to the device (for example, an ssh secondary connection would use scp).

A Secondary Connection can have control over the daemon via the deployment using the primary connection. The client connection is still made by the dispatcher.

Secondary connections require authorization to be configured, so the deployment must specify the authorization method. This allows the overlay for this deployment to contain a token (e.g. the ssh public key) which will allow the connection to be made. The token will be added to the overlay tarball alongside the directories containing the test definitions.

- deploy:
    to: tmpfs
    authorize: ssh
      url: http://....
      url: http://...
      url: http://....

Certain deployment Actions (like SSH) will also copy the token to a particular location (e.g. /root/.ssh/authorized_keys) but test writers can also add a run step which enables authorization for a different user, if the test requires this.


The /root/.ssh/authorized_keys file will be replaced when the LAVA overlay is unpacked, if it exists in the test image already. This is a security precaution (so that test images can be shared easily without allowing unexpected access). Hacking sessions append to this file after the overlay has been unpacked.

Deployment can also include delivering the LAVA overlay files, including the LAVA test shell support scripts and the test definitions specified by the submitter, to the host device to be executed over the secondary connection. So for SSH, the secondary connection typically has a test action defined and uses scp to put the overlay into place before connecting using ssh and executing the tests. The creation of the overlay is part of the deployment, the delivery of the overlay is part of the boot process of the secondary connection, i.e. deploy is passive, boot is active. To support this, use the Multinode protocol on the host to declare the IP address of the host and communicate that to the guest as part of the guest deployment. Then the guest uses the data to copy the files and make the connection as part of the boot action. See Writing jobs using Secondary Connections.

Considerations with a secondary connection
  1. The number of host devices
  2. Which secondary connections connect to which host device

In LAVA, this is handled using the Multinode role using the following rules:

  1. All connections declare a host_role which is the role label for the host device for that connection. e.g. if the connection has a declared role of client and declares a host_role of host, then every client connection will be expected to be able to connect to the host device.
  2. The TestJob for each connection with the same role will be started on a single dispatcher which is local to the device with the role matching the specified host_role.
  3. There is no guarantee that a connection will be possible to any other device in the multinode group other than devices assigned to a role which matches the host_role requirement of the connection.


The count of any role acting as the host_role must be set to 1. Multiple roles can be defined, each set as a host_role by at least one of the other roles, if more than one device in the Multinode group needs to host secondary connections in the one submission. Multiple connections can be made to devices of any one host_role.

This allows for devices to be hosted in private networks where only a local dispatcher can access the device, without requiring that all devices are accessible (as root) from all dispatchers as that would require all devices to be publicly accessible.

Both Primary and Secondary connections are affected by Security issues due to the requirements of automation.

The device providing a Secondary Connection is running a TestJob and the deployment will be erased when the job completes.


Avoid confusing host_role with expect_role. host_role is used by the scheduler to ensure that the job assignment operates correctly and does not affect the dispatcher or delayed start support. The two values may often have the same value with secondary connections but do not mean the same thing.


Avoid using constrained resources (like dpkg or apt) from multiple tests (unless you take care with synchronisation calls to ensure that each operation happens independently). Check through the test definitions for installation steps or direct calls to apt and change the test definitions.

Connections and hacking sessions

A hacking session using a Secondary connection is the only situation where the client is configurable by the user and the daemon can be controlled by the test image. It is possible to adjust the hacking session test definitions to use different commands and options - as long as both daemon and client use compatible options. As such, a hacking session user retains security over their private keys at the cost of the loss of automation.

Hacking sessions can be used with primary or secondary connections, depending on the use case.


Remember that in addition to issues related to the Persistence of a primary connection device, hacking sessions on primary connections also have all of the issues of a shared access device - do not copy, prepare or download sensitive data when using a shared access device.

Devices supporting Primary Connections

A device offering a primary connection needs a particular configuration in the device dictionary table:

  1. Only primary connection deployment methods defined in the deploy_methods parameter, e,g, ssh.
  2. Support in the device_type template to replace the list of deployment methods with the list supplied in the deploy_methods parameter.
  3. No serial connection support in the boot connections list.
  4. No methods in the boot parameters.

This prevents other jobs being submitted which would cause the device to be rebooted or have a different deployment prepared. This can be further enhanced with device tag support.

Devices supporting Secondary Connections

There are fewer requirements of a device supporting secondary connections:

  1. Primary and Secondary connections are mutually exclusive, so one device should not serve primary and secondary. (This can be done for testing but the secondary connection then has the same Persistence issues as the primary.)
  2. The physical device must support the connection hardware requirements.
  3. The test image deployed needs to install and run the software requirements of the connection, this would be a JobError Exception
  4. The options supplied for the primary connection template are also used for secondary connections, with the exception that the destination of the connection is obtained at runtime via the lava-multinode protocol. These options can be changed by the admin and specify the identity file to use for the connection and turn off password authentication on the connection, for example.

SSH as the primary connection

Certain devices can support SSH as the primary connection - the filesystems on such devices are not erased at the end of a TestJob and provide Persistence for certain tasks. (This is the equivalent of the dummy-ssh device in the old dispatcher.) These devices declare this support in the device configuration:

  # primary connection device has only connections as deployment methods
  connections:  # not serial
    - ssh

TestJobs then use SSH as a boot method which simply acts as a login to establish a connection:

- deploy:
    to: ssh
    os: debian

- boot:
    method: ssh
    connection: ssh
    failure_retry: 2
      - 'linaro-test'
      - 'root@debian:~#'

The deploy action in this case simply prepares the LAVA overlay containing the test shell definitions and copies those to a pre-determined location on the device. This location will be removed at the end of the TestJob. The os parameter is specified so that any LAVA overlay scripts are able to pick up the correct shell, package manager and other deployment data items in order to run the lava test shell definitions.


A primary SSH connection from the dispatcher needs to be controlled through the device configuration, allowing the use of a private SSH key which is at least hidden from test writers. (Only protect the essential components).

The key is declared as a path on the dispatcher, so is device-specific. Devices on the same dispatcher can share the same key or may have a unique key - all keys still need to not have any passphrase - as long as all devices supported by the SSH host have the relevant keys configured as authorized for login as root. [1]

[1]Securing such private keys when the admin process is managed in a public VCS is left as an exercise for the admin teams.

LAVA provides a default (completely insecure) private key which can be used for these connections. This key is installed within lava-dispatcher and is readable by anyone inspecting the lava-dispatcher codebase in git. (This has not been changed in the refactoring.)

It is conceivable that a test image could be suitably configured before being submitted to LAVA, with a private key included inside a second job which deploys normally and executes the connection instead of running a test definition. However, anyone with access to the test image would still be able to obtain the private key. Keys generated on a per job basis would still be open for the lifetime of the test job itself, up to the job timeout specified. While this could provide test writers with the ability to control the options and commands used to create the connection, any additional security is minimal and support for this has not been implemented, yet.

See also the Considerations with a secondary connection for information on how access to devices is managed.


Devices supporting primary SSH connections have persistent deployments and this has implications, some positive, some negative - depending on your use case.

  1. Fixed OS - the operating system (OS) you get is the OS of the device and this must not be changed or upgraded.
  2. Package interference - if another user installs a conflicting package, your test can fail.
  3. Process interference - another process could restart (or crash) a daemon upon which your test relies, so your test will fail.
  4. Contention - another job could obtain a lock on a constrained resource, e.g. dpkg or apt, causing your test to fail.
  5. Reusable scripts - scripts and utilities your test leaves behind can be reused (or can interfere) with subsequent tests.
  6. Lack of reproducibility - an artifact from a previous test can make it impossible to rely on the results of a subsquent test, leading to wasted effort with false positives and false negatives.
  7. Maintenance - using persistent filesystems in a test action results in the overlay files being left in that filesystem. Depending on the size of the test definition repositories, this could result in an inevitable increase in used storage becoming a problem on the machine hosting the persistent location. Changes made by the test action can also require intermittent maintenance of the persistent location.

Only use persistent deployments when essential and always take great care to avoid interfering with other tests. Users who deliberately or frequently interfere with other tests can have their submit privilege revoked.

See Disposable chroot deployments for a solution to some of these issues but the choice of operating system (and the versions of that OS available) within the chroot is down to the lab admins, not the test writer. The principal way to get full control over the deployment is to use a Secondary connection.

Disposable chroot deployments

Some devices can support mechanisms like LVM snapshots which allow for a self-contained environment to be unpacked for a single session and then discarded at the end of the session. These deployments do not suffer the same entanglement issues as simple SSH deployments and can provide multiple environments, not just the OS installed on the SSH host system.

This support is similar to how distributions can offer “porter boxes” which allow upstream teams and community developers to debug platform issues in a native environment. It also allows tests to be run on a different operating system or different release of an operating system. Unlike distribution “porter boxes”, however, LAVA does not allow more than one TestJob to have access to any one device at the same time.

A device supporting disposable chroots will typically follow the configuration of Devices supporting Primary Connections. The device will show as busy whenever a job is active, but although it is possible to use a secondary connection as well, the deployment methods of the device would have to disallow access to the media upon which the chroots are installed or deployed or upon which the software to manage the chroots is installed. e.g. a device offering disposable chroots on SATA could offer ramdisk or NFS tests.

LAVA support for disposable chroots is implemented via schroot (forming the replacement for the dummy-schroot device in the old dispatcher).

Typical device configuration:

  # list of deployment methods which this device supports
      - unstable
      - trusty
      - jessie
    - ssh

Optional device configuration allowing secondary connections:

  # list of deployment methods which this device supports
      - unstable
      - trusty
      - jessie
    - serial
    - ssh

The test job YAML would simply specify:

- deploy:
    to: ssh
    chroot: unstable
    os: debian

- boot:
    method: ssh
    connection: ssh
    failure_retry: 2
      - 'linaro-test'
      - 'root@debian:~#'


The OS still needs to be specified, LAVA does not guess based on the chroot name. There is nothing to stop an schroot being named testing but actually being upgraded or replaced with something else.

The deployment of an schroot involves unpacking the schroot into a logical volume with LVM. It is an InfrastructureError Exception if this step fails, for example if the volume group has insufficient available space.

schroot also supports directories and tarballs but LVM is recommended as it avoids problems of Persistence. See the schroot manpage for more information on schroot. A common way to create an schroot is to use tools packaged with sbuild or you can use debootstrap.

Using secondary connections with VM groups

One example of the use of a secondary connection is to launch a VM on a device already running a test image. This allows the test writer to control both the kernel on the bare metal and the kernel in the VM as well as having a connection on the host machine and the guest virtual machine.

The implementation of VMGroups created a role for a delayed start Multinode job. This would allow one job to operate over serial, publish the IP address, start an SSH server and signal the second job that a connection is ready to be established. This may be useful for situations where a debugging shell needs to be opened around a virtualisation boundary.

There is an option for downloading or preparing the guest VM image on the host device within a test shell, prior to the VM delayed start. Alternatively, a deploy stage can be used which would copy a downloaded image from the dispatcher to the host device.

Each connection is a different job in a multinode group so that the output of each connection is tracked separately and can be monitored separately.


  1. The host device is deployed with a test image and booted.
  2. LAVA then manages the download of the files necessary to create the secondary connection.
    • e.g. for QEMU, this would be a bootable image file
  3. LAVA also creates a suitable overlay containing the test definitions to be run inside the virtual machine.
  4. The test image must start whatever servers are required to provide the secondary connections, e.g. ssh. It does not matter whether this is done using install steps in the test definition or pre-existing packages in the test image or manual setup. The server must be configured to allow the (insecure) LAVA automation SSH private key to log in as authorized - this key is available in the /usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/lava_dispatcher/device/dynamic_vm_keys directory when lava-dispatcher is installed or in the lava-dispatcher git tree.
  5. The test image on the host device starts a test definition over the existing (typically serial) connection. At this point, the image file and overlay for the guest VM are available on the host for the host device test definition to inspect, although only the image file should actually be modified.
  6. The test definition includes a signal to the LAVA MultiNode API which allows the VM to start. The signal includes an identifier for which VM to start, if there is more than one.
  7. The second job in the multinode group waits until the signal is received from the coordinator. Upon receipt of the signal, the lava dispatch process running the second job will initiate the secondary connection to the host device, e.g. over SSH, using the specified private key. The connection is used to run a set of commands in the test image running on the host device. It is a TestError if any of these commands fail. The last of these commands must hold the connection open for as long as the test writer needs to execute the task inside the VM. Once those tasks are complete, the test definition running in the test image on the host device signals that the VM has completed.

The test writer is given full control over the commands issued inside the test image on the host device, including those commands which are responsible for launching the VM. The test writer is also responsible for making the overlay available inside the VM. This could be by passing arguments to the commands to mount the overlay alongside the VM or by unpacking the overlay inside the VM image before calling QEMU. If set in the job definition, the test writer can ask LAVA to unpack the overlay inside the image file for the VM and this will be done on the host device before the host device boots the test image - however, this will require an extra boot of the host device, e.g. using the dynamic master support.

Basic use cases

Prebuilt files can be downloaded, kernel, ramdisk, dtb, rootfs or complete image. These will be downloaded to the host device and the paths to these files substituted into the commands issued to start the VM, in the same way as with bootloader like u-boot. This provides support for tests within the VM using standard, packaged tools. To simplify these tests further, it is recommended to use NFS for the root filesystem of the host device boot - it leads to a quicker deployment as the files for the VM can be downloaded directly to the NFS share by the dispatcher. Deployments of the host device system to secondary media, e.g. SATA, require additional steps and the job will take longer to get to a point where the VM can be started.

The final launch of the VM will occur using a shell script (which will then be preserved in the results alongside the overlay), containing the parsed commands.

Advanced use cases

It is possible to use a test shell to build files to be used when launching the VM. This allows for a test shell to operate on the host device, building, downloading or compiling whatever files are necessary for the operation of the VM, directly controlled by the test shell.

To avoid confusion and duplication, LAVA does not support downloading some files via the dispatcher and some via the test shell. If there are files needed for the test job which are not to be built or generated within the test shell, the test shell will need to use wget or curl or some other tool present in the test image to obtain the files. This also means that LAVA is not able to verify that such URLs are correct during the validation of the job, so test writers need to be aware that LAVA will not be able to fail a job early if the URL is incorrect as would happen in the basic use case.

Any overlay containing the test definitions and LAVA test scripts which are to be executed inside the VM after the VM has booted still needs to be downloaded from the dispatcher. The URL of this overlay (a single tarball containing all files in a self-contained directory) will be injected into the test shell files on the host device, in a similar way to how the MultiNode API provides dynamic data from other devices in the group.

The test writer is responsible for extracting this tarball so that it is present or is bind mounted into the root directory of the VM so that the scripts can be launched immediately after login.

The test shell needs to create the final shell script, just as the basic use case does. This allows the dispatcher running the VM to connect to the host device and use a common interface to launch the VM in each use case.

LAVA initiates and controls the connection to the VM, using this script, so that all output is tracked in the multinode job assigned to the VM.

Sample job definition for the VM job
# second half of a new-style VM group job
# each connection is a different job
# even if only one physical device is actually powered up.
device_type: kvm-arm
job_name: wandboard-qemu
    minutes: 15
    minutes: 5
priority: medium
target_group: asd243fdgdfhgf-45645hgf
group_size: 2
  # the test definition on the host device manages how
  # the overlay is applied to the VM image.
  overlay: manual  # use automatic for LAVA to do the overlay
# An ID appended to the signal to start this VM to distinguish
# it from any other VMs which may start later or when this one
# completes.
vm_id: gdb_session


 - boot:
    # as kvm-arm, this happens in a test image via
    # the other half of this multinode job
      minutes: 3
    # alternative to u-boot
    connection: ssh
    method: vm
    # any way to launch a vm
      # full access to the commands to run on the other device
      - qemu-system-arm -hda {IMAGE}
    type: qemu
      - 'linaro-test'
      - 'root@debian:~#'

 - test:
    name: kvm-basic-singlenode
      minutes: 5
        - repository: git://
          from: git
          path: ubuntu/smoke-tests-basic.yaml
          name: smoke-tests

Device configuration design

Device configuration, as received by lava_dispatch has moved to YAML and the database device configuration has moved to Jinja2 templates. This method has a much larger scope of possible methods, related to the pipeline strategies as well as allowing simple overrides and reuse of common device configuration stanzas.

There is no need for the device configuration to include the hostname in the YAML as there is nothing on the dispatcher to check against - the dispatcher uses the command line arguments and the supplied device configuration. The configuration includes all the data the dispatcher needs to be able to run the job on the device attached to the specified ports.

The device type configuration on the dispatcher is replaced by a device type template on the server which is used to generate the YAML device configuration sent to the dispatcher.

Device Dictionary

The normal admin flow for individual devices will be to make changes to the device dictionary of that device. In time, an editable interface will exist within the admin interface. Initially, changes to the dictionary are made from the command line with details being available in a read-only view in the admin interface.

The device dictionary acts as a set of variables inside the template, in a very similar manner to how Django handles HTML templates. In turn, a device type template will extend a base template.

It is a bug in the template if a missing value causes a broken device configuration to be generated. Values which are not included in the specified template will be ignored.

Once the device dictionary has been populated, the scheduler can be told that the device is a pipeline device in the admin interface.


Several parts of this process still need helpers and tools or may give unexpected errors - there is a lot of ongoing work in this area.

Exporting an existing device dictionary

If the local instance has a working pipeline device called mypanda, the device dictionary can be exported as a Jinja2 child template which extends a device type jinja template:

$ sudo lava-server manage device-dictionary --hostname mypanda --export
{% extends 'panda.jinja2' %}
{% set power_off_command = '/usr/bin/pduclient --daemon tweetypie --hostname pdu --command off --port 08' %}
{% set hard_reset_command = '/usr/bin/pduclient --daemon tweetypie --hostname pdu --command reboot --port 08' %}
{% set connection_command = 'telnet droopy 4001' %}
{% set power_on_command = '/usr/bin/pduclient --daemon tweetypie --hostname pdu --command on --port 08' %}

This dictionary declares that the device inherits the rest of the device configuration from the panda device type. Settings specific to this one device are then specified.

See also

Power Commands

Reviewing an existing device dictionary

To populate the full configuration using the device dictionary and the associated templates, use the review option:

$ sudo lava-server manage device-dictionary --hostname mypanda --review

Example device configuration review

device_type: beaglebone-black
  connect: telnet localhost 6000
  hard_reset: /usr/bin/pduclient --daemon localhost --hostname pdu --command reboot --port 08
  power_off: /usr/bin/pduclient --daemon localhost --hostname pdu --command off --port 08
  power_on: /usr/bin/pduclient --daemon localhost --hostname pdu --command on --port 08

  kernel: '0x80200000'
  ramdisk: '0x81600000'
  dtb: '0x815f0000'
  kernel: '0x81000000'
  ramdisk: '0x82000000'
  dtb: '0x81f00000'

   # list of deployment methods which this device supports
     # - image # not ready yet
     - tftp

   # list of boot methods which this device supports.
     - u-boot:
           bootloader_prompt: U-Boot
           boot_message: Booting Linux
           send_char: False
           # interrupt: # character needed to interrupt u-boot, single whitespace by default
         # method specific stanza
           - setenv initrd_high '0xffffffff'
           - setenv fdt_high '0xffffffff'
           - setenv bootcmd 'fatload mmc 0:3 0x80200000 uImage; fatload mmc 0:3 0x815f0000 board.dtb;
             bootm 0x80200000 - 0x815f0000'
           - setenv bootargs 'console=ttyO0,115200n8 root=/dev/mmcblk0p5 rootwait ro'
           - boot
           - setenv autoload no
           - setenv initrd_high '0xffffffff'
           - setenv fdt_high '0xffffffff'
           - setenv kernel_addr_r '{KERNEL_ADDR}'
           - setenv initrd_addr_r '{RAMDISK_ADDR}'
           - setenv fdt_addr_r '{DTB_ADDR}'
           - setenv loadkernel 'tftp ${kernel_addr_r} {KERNEL}'
           - setenv loadinitrd 'tftp ${initrd_addr_r} {RAMDISK}; setenv initrd_size ${filesize}'
           - setenv loadfdt 'tftp ${fdt_addr_r} {DTB}'
           # this could be a pycharm bug or a YAML problem with colons. Use : for now.
           # alternatively, construct the nfsroot argument from values.
           - setenv nfsargs 'setenv bootargs console=ttyO0,115200n8 root=/dev/nfs rw nfsroot={SERVER_IP}:{NFSROOTFS},tcp,hard,intr ip=dhcp'
           - setenv bootcmd 'dhcp; setenv serverip {SERVER_IP}; run loadkernel; run loadinitrd; run loadfdt; run nfsargs; {BOOTX}'
           - boot
           - setenv autoload no
           - setenv initrd_high '0xffffffff'
           - setenv fdt_high '0xffffffff'
           - setenv kernel_addr_r '{KERNEL_ADDR}'
           - setenv initrd_addr_r '{RAMDISK_ADDR}'
           - setenv fdt_addr_r '{DTB_ADDR}'
           - setenv loadkernel 'tftp ${kernel_addr_r} {KERNEL}'
           - setenv loadinitrd 'tftp ${initrd_addr_r} {RAMDISK}; setenv initrd_size ${filesize}'
           - setenv loadfdt 'tftp ${fdt_addr_r} {DTB}'
           - setenv bootargs 'console=ttyO0,115200n8 root=/dev/ram0 ip=dhcp'
           - setenv bootcmd 'dhcp; setenv serverip {SERVER_IP}; run loadkernel; run loadinitrd; run loadfdt; {BOOTX}'
           - boot

Importing configuration using a known template

To add or update the device dictionary, a file using the same syntax as the export content can be imported into the database:

$ sudo lava-server manage device-dictionary --hostname mypanda --import mypanda.yaml

(The file extension is unnecessary and the content is not actually YAML but will be rendered as YAML when the templates are used.)

Creating a new template

Start with the base.yaml template and use the structure of that template to ensure that your template remains valid YAML.

Start with a complete device configuration (in YAML) which works on the lava-dispatch command line, then iterate over changes in the template to produce the same output.


A helper is being planned for this step.

Running lava-dispatch directly

lava-dispatch only accepts a YAML file for pipeline jobs - the old behaviour of looking up the file based on the device hostname has been dropped. The absolute or relative path to the YAML file must be specified to the --target option. --output-dir must also be specified:

sudo lava-dispatch --target devices/fred.conf panda-ramdisk.yaml --output-dir=/tmp/test