The instance

The instance is dedicated to testing upstream kernels with ChromeOS user-space. It focuses primarily on LTS kernel branches (5.15, 5.10) with some ChromeOS configuration fragments to run open-source builds of Chromium OS on Chromebook devices.

While the main instance uses generic distros such as buildroot and Debian, ChromeOS is specific to a range of products. This may lead to different results compared to Debian for a same test when user-space components have a role to play (for example, the C library or the toolchain). Also, some ChromeOS kernels may be built by KernelCI in the future using production branches which are not upstream. For these reasons, a separate instance appeared to be necessary in order to keep the main production instance entirely dedicated to upstream.

The Tast framework provides a comprehensive series of tests to run on ChromeOS. This is typically what the ChromeOS KernelCI instance is running, in addition to some generic tests such as kselftest, LTP etc.

Development workflow

While the ChromeOS KernelCI instance is hosted on the production server, it has a development workflow closer to staging. An integration branch is created for each GitHub code repository used on the ChromeOS instance with all the pending pull requests on top of a chromeos branch. This is analogous to the branch which is based on main instead.

Pull requests for the instance should be made with the chromeos branch as a base and commits should include CHROMEOS in their subject. For example:

CHROMEOS section: Describe your patch

Once the changes have run successfully, and once reviewed and approved, they get merged on the chromeos branch. This branch then gets rebased periodically on top of main, typically once a week after each production update.

Changes on the chromeos branch may be merged into the main branch to reduce the number of “downstream” commits it contains. This can involve refactoring the changes to make it suitable for the general use-cases, renaming things to follow some conventions, squashing commits etc.

Note A potential new feature could be to add a chromeos label to pull requests made against the main branch so that they also get deployed via the branch but are merged directly into main.

How ChromeOS tests are run by KernelCI

It is assumed that the reader has some experience with LAVA.

With the Chromebook boot process used on products, the bootloader (Coreboot / Depthcharge) looks for a special kernel partition, and then loads the latest working kernel. See the ChromeOS boot documentation for more details. In KernelCI, each boot needs to be done with a different kernel image. For this reason, a modified version of Depthcharge is used to load the kernel image over TFTP via an interactive command line interface on the serial console. This is managed by the LAVA depthcharge boot method.

An additional complication is that ChromeOS can’t be easily run over NFS. It requires a specific partition layout, and running on the eMMC provides similar performance to a regular product. Many tests are about performance so this is a major aspect to take into account. It was also not designed to boot with an initrd, and as a result the kernel modules have to be installed on the eMMC root partition before the Chromebook starts. This is done via 2-stage LAVA job, as can be seen in the cros-boot.jinja2 LAVA job template. The Chromebook first boots with Debian NFS to install the kernel modules on the eMMC (modules namespace), then reboots with ChromeOS (chromeos namespace).

Note It is worth noting that testing in QEMU is a bit different from testing on Chromebooks as the image can be manipulated more easily. Installing the modules is done in the rootfs file using deploy postprocess before booting the QEMU image. See the cros-boot-qemu.jinja2 LAVA job template for more details.

In the next step, we expect a login prompt on the serial console and successfull login over it. The serial console is not used to run tests, instead they are run over SSH from a Docker container running on a LAVA server. This proves to be more reliable as serial console hardware can more easily have issues and kernel console messages can interfere with test results. The only downside is that we can’t detect networking errors this way.

Types of tests performed

At the moment, we are running baseline tests that check for critical errors when loading the kernel (dmesg) and special internal ChromeOS tests “tast”.

Tests that have -fixed suffix use downstream kernel (from Google or compiled inside ChromeOS rootfs) and are “reference” to compare against the tested, upstream kernel.

Building and structure of ChromeOS rootfs

Building a ChromeOS rootfs image involves building by Google recipe with our own tweaks, as following:

  • Enable USB serial support for console
  • Build not only by a specific manifest tag, but fix (manifest snapshot) to certain commits level, this will allow us to get identical builds and consistent test results on all devices
  • Add generated “.bin” image to special “flasher” debos image to save time
  • Extract the kernel and modules for -fixed tests from the generated image and publish them separately as bzImage and modules.tar.xz
  • Extract required tast files to run tast tests in LAVA Docker (tast.tgz)

You can build it manually using following commands, for qemu (amd64-generic):

git clone -b chromeos
cd kernelci-core
mkdir temp
chmod 0777 temp
docker run \
    --name kernelci-build-cros \
    -itd \
    -v $(pwd):/kernelci-core \
    --device /dev/kvm \
    -v /dev:/dev \
    --privileged \
docker exec \
    -it kernelci-build-cros \
    ./kci_rootfs \
    build \
    --rootfs-config chromiumos-amd64-generic \
    --data-path config/rootfs/chromiumos \
    --arch amd64 \
    --output temp

Or specify the appropriate parameters in jenkins chromeos/rootfs-builder, and after that the rootfs will be automatically published on storage server

How to add new Chromebook type to KernelCI

To build rootfs (used for flashing chromebook, kernel and modules for -fixed tests) you need to add similar fragment to the config file config/core/rootfs-configs-chromeos.yaml:

    rootfs_type: chromiumos
    board: octopus
    branch: release-R100-14526.B
    serial: ttyS1
      - amd64
  • board: codename of Chromebook board, check for your at this list

  • branch: it is recommended to use the same one as other Chromebooks, unless an exception needs to be made (for example, a new model is only supported in the latest release)

  • serial: is hardware dependent, you need to check Chromebook manual for correct value.

In order to add a Chromebook to the testing, you need to add a similar entry to the config file config/core/test-configs-chromeos.yaml:

    base_name: asus-C436FA-Flip-hatch
    mach: x86
    arch: x86_64
    boot_method: depthcharge
    filters: &pineview-filter
      - passlist: {defconfig: ['chromeos-intel-pineview']}
      block_device: nvme0n1
        base_url: ''
        initrd: 'initrd.cpio.gz'
        initrd_compression: 'gz'
        rootfs: 'full.rootfs.tar.xz'
        rootfs_compression: 'xz'
        base_url: ''
        image: 'kernel/bzImage'
        modules: 'modules.tar.xz'
        modules_compression: 'xz'
        base_url: ''
        flash_tarball: 'cros-flash.tar.gz'
        flash_tarball_compression: 'gz'
        tast_tarball: 'tast.tgz'
        image: ''
        modules: ''
  • filters, indicates which kernel builds are suitable for this Chromebook, fragment names can be found by the name of board in the ChromeOS sources.

For example: chromiumos-sdk/src/overlays/baseboard-octopus in chromiumos-sdk/src/overlays/baseboard-octopus/profiles/base/parent is set: chipset-glk:base

Then: chromiumos-sdk/src/overlays/chipset-glk/profiles/base/make.defaults CHROMEOS_KERNEL_SPLITCONFIG=“chromeos-intel-pineview”

  • block_device device name of the persistent storage of Chromebook. In some devices, this may be eMMC (mmcblkN) or NVMe, as in this case, in some exceptional cases it can be set to detect (like on “grunt”, where block device name is not persistent)
  • cros_flash_nfs points to the debos filesystem that flashes the Chromebook.
  • cros_flash_kernel points to the upstream kernel that will be used for the above system (it must support the peripherals of the flashed Chromebook, especially persistent storage, such as eMMC, NVMe, etc)
  • cros_image points to cros_flash_nfs.rootfs repacked together with rootfs .bin image we built
  • reference_kernel is ChromeOS downstream kernel that is used for -fixed tests, in some cases this is the kernel provided by Google, and in some cases it is extracted from the rootfs we built.

And also a snippet with the tests you want to, run in test configs section:

  - device_type: asus-C436FA-Flip-hatch_chromeos
      - cros-boot
      - cros-boot-fixed
      - cros-tast
      - cros-tast-fixed

How to Prepare a known type of Chromebook for KernelCI testing

If you got a new Chromebook, connected it to LAVA, and want to set it up, so it can be used in KernelCI, you need to flash the Chromebook with the firmware(rootfs) compiled and set in kernelci configuration files.

The easiest way is to generate a LAVA template for the flashing job. If you look in test-configs-chromeos.yaml you will see test definition “cros-flash”. To generate a flashing template for “octopus”, you need to add cros-flash to our local configuration test-configs-chromeos.yaml. For example like this:

  - device_type: hp-x360-12b-ca0010nr-n4020-octopus_chromeos
      - cros-flash

Then you need to generate, using any suitable kernel, LAVA job template:

./kci_test generate --lab-config=lab-collabora --install-path=_install_\

Installing OS image can take quite a long time, 10-15 minutes, and successful firmware log ends with sync, partprobe, exit commands.

To check if the new firmware was successfully loaded, it is recommended to generate the cros-baseline-fixed job definition for LAVA in a similar way.

“cros://” kernel configuration fragments

Perhaps by looking at the source code at ChromeOS branch in kernelci-core you have already noticed unusual kernel fragments with prefix “cros://".

As this instance kernel builds is different from the “main” ones in many cases it borrows the configuration fragments from the ChromeOS source code.

For example “cros://chromeos-5.10/armel/chromiumos-arm.flavour.config” using configuration fragment archive file: then fragments from it:

  • base.config
  • architecture dependent (in our case armel) armel/common.config
  • chromeos/armel/chromiumos-arm.flavour.config from this archive.
Last modified September 23, 2022