Automated Bisect Testing Of An Entire OS with RPM-OSTree


Occasionally in OS land we’ll come across a bug that snuck its way into a build and has been in the wild for a while before anyone notices it. One example is a recent bug (originally discovered by the community of CoreOS Container Linux) where the jumbo packet MTU size of 9001 was no longer getting set properly on EC2 instances.

So we have this bug, and we know things used to work. I fired up the first and last releases of F28 Atomic Host. Both had the problem. I then went all the way back to the first release of F27 Atomic Host and fired up an AMI from that release. On that release the MTU looks good at 9001:

[root@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]# ip addr show eth0 | grep mtu
2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 9001 qdisc fq_codel state UP group default qlen 1000

I then went all the way to the latest F27 commit of 27.153 (ddaa675) by doing an rpm-ostree upgrade. After upgrading I see the non-jumbo MTU value of 1500:

[root@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]# ip addr show eth0 | grep mtu
2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state UP group default qlen 1000

Where was this regression introduced?


I could go through each commit in the entire history to find where the issue was introduced, but with a little logic we can arrive at the answer in fewer steps.

The idea here is that the regression was introduced somewhere and all commits before that point will not have the regression and all commits after that will have the regression. With a simple test we can easily check to see if a commit has the regression or not. The pseudo-code for the bisect logic looks something like this:

#   grab info on every commit in history 
#   A -> B -> C -> D -> E -> F -> G
#   user provided good/bad commits
#   - good (default to first in history: A)
#   - bad (default to current commit: G) 
#   run test script
#   returns 0 for pass and 1 for failure
#   known good is A, known bad is G
#   start bisect:
#   deploy D, test --> bad
#   mark D, E, F bad
#   deploy B, test --> good
#   mark B good
#   deploy C, test --> bad
#   Failure introduced in B -> C

Luckily, since OSTree is like “Git for your OS”, and we have a stream of discrete changes, we can actually automate the bisect testing.

Automated Bisecting

For this particular MTU regression we are lucky. We have a simple pass/fail test that tells us if the problem exists or not. If we script it out it looks something like:

[fedora@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]$ cat /usr/local/bin/
sleep 20 # Wait some time for the settings to get applied
if ip addr show eth0 | grep "mtu 1500"; then
    echo "Found mtu 1500. Test Fails"
    exit 1
    echo "Found mtu != 1500. Test Passes"
    exit 0

If we run the test we can see it fails:

[root@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]# chmod +x /usr/local/bin/ 
[root@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]# /usr/local/bin/ 
2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state UP group default qlen 1000
Found mtu 1500. Test Fails

Now we can grab rpm-ostree-bisect , a python program I wrote to help us do the bisect testing, and set it up.

[root@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]# curl -L > /usr/local/bin/rpm-ostree-bisect
[root@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]# chmod +x /usr/local/bin/rpm-ostree-bisect 
[root@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]# rpm-ostree-bisect --testscript /usr/local/bin/ 
Using data file at: /var/lib/rpm-ostree-bisect.json
Created symlink /etc/systemd/system/ → /etc/systemd/system/rpm-ostree-bisect.service.
[root@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]# 
[root@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]# reboot 

We passed it the path to the executable test. The program assumes that the current commit is a bad commit and it will assume that the oldest commit is good. If you’d like you can explicitly set the known good and known bad commits with --good and --bad arguments.

A few more things happened here as well. Since we are going to be deploying different versions of the OS and rebooting we’ll need to store some state and leverage a startup script to resume the bisection. rpm-ostree-bisect created a systemd service to aid in the bisection:

[fedora@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]$ systemctl cat rpm-ostree-bisect.service | tee
# /etc/systemd/system/rpm-ostree-bisect.service

Description=RPM-OSTree Bisect Testing

ExecStart=/usr/local/bin/rpm-ostree-bisect --resume


It also created a json data file with information about all the commits in the history of the OSTree:

[fedora@ip-10-0-246-17 ~]$ head -n 12 /var/lib/rpm-ostree-bisect.json 
    "commits_info": {
        "ddaa675df9ea91b0233ef996691f7f7fdf4eb84fccdf21a49f46a84fa0b39355": {
            "version": "27.153",
            "heuristic": "TESTED",
            "status": "BAD"
        "892983cd174980ea35f54e571e828aa4365addf2a0f5acdcda770f7b4b87a3a5": {
            "version": "27.152",
            "heuristic": "ASSUMED",
            "status": "UNKNOWN"

The data file keeps information about that status of each commit (BAD, GOOD, or UNKNOWN) and the heuristic (GIVEN, TESTED, ASSUMED) that was used to determine the status. TESTED means that commit was explicitly tested, while ASSUMED means that the status was assumed to be good or bad based on if an earlier or later commit was good or bad.

Now we can reboot our system and the automated bisect testing will happen on the system for us. We can monitor it from remote by using watch or an ssh for loop. One example is:

$ watch -n 10 ssh fedora@ journalctl -b0 -n 30 -u rpm-ostree-bisect

After waiting some time the bisect was finished. The last run of the rpm-ostree-bisect service output the following:

Starting RPM-OSTree Bisect Testing...
Using data file at: /var/lib/rpm-ostree-bisect.json
2: eth0: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state UP group default qlen 1000
Found mtu 1500. Test Fails
Last known good commit:
  21e115d93d04f206a874973c91185184c70ba2e7500d5b2619d8c849b6cad3c1 : 27.125
First known bad commit:
  e59f9373145bae36f90571feff24719537827273891c822692d037b05d1ff470 : 27.126
libostree pull from 'fedora-atomic' for fedora/27/x86_64/atomic-host complete
security: GPG: commit http: TLS
non-delta: meta: 306 content: 0
transfer: secs: 28 size: 1.7 MB
ostree diff commit old: 21e115d93d04f206a874973c91185184c70ba2e7500d5b2619d8c849b6cad3c1
ostree diff commit new: e59f9373145bae36f90571feff24719537827273891c822692d037b05d1ff470
  cockpit-bridge 165-1.fc27 -> 166-1.fc27
  cockpit-docker 165-1.fc27 -> 166-1.fc27
  cockpit-networkmanager 165-1.fc27 -> 166-1.fc27
  cockpit-ostree 165-1.fc27 -> 166-1.fc27
  cockpit-system 165-1.fc27 -> 166-1.fc27
  coreutils 8.27-20.fc27 -> 8.27-21.fc27
  coreutils-common 8.27-20.fc27 -> 8.27-21.fc27
  findutils 1:4.6.0-16.fc27 -> 1:4.6.0-19.fc27
  kernel 4.15.17-300.fc27 -> 4.16.3-200.fc27
  kernel-core 4.15.17-300.fc27 -> 4.16.3-200.fc27
  kernel-modules 4.15.17-300.fc27 -> 4.16.3-200.fc27
  libcgroup 0.41-13.fc27 -> 0.41-17.fc27
  selinux-policy 3.13.1-283.30.fc27 -> 3.13.1-283.32.fc27
  selinux-policy-targeted 3.13.1-283.30.fc27 -> 3.13.1-283.32.fc27
Started RPM-OSTree Bisect Testing.

So we can see clearly the regression was introduced in 27.126 and the diff output shows that in that particular commit several things changed. The most obvious change that could have caused this regression was the kernel going from 4.15.17 to 4.16.3. This narrows down the window of changes to look at when trying to track down the specific bug.

Note: Here you can access the final rpm-ostree-bisect.json and the systemd unit journal log from the run.


This automated bisecting can really help us find the causes for regressions by narrowing down the scope of changes we need to look at when performing an investigation.