Host stack test framework


The goal of the Host stack test framework (hs-test) is to ease writing and running end-to-end tests for VPP's Host Stack. End-to-end tests often want multiple VPP instances, network namespaces, different types of interfaces and to execute external tools or commands. With such requirements the existing VPP test framework is not sufficient. For this, Go was chosen as a high level language, allowing rapid development, with Docker and ip being the tools for creating required topology.

Ginkgo forms the base framework upon which the hs-test is built and run. All tests are technically in a single suite because we are only using package main. We simulate suite behavior by grouping tests by the topology they require. This allows us to run those mentioned groups in parallel, but not individual tests in parallel.

Anatomy of a test case


  • Install hs-test dependencies with make install-deps

  • Tests use hs-test's own docker image, so building it before starting tests is a prerequisite. Run make build[-debug] to do so

  • Docker has to be installed and Go has to be in path of both the running user and root

  • Root privileges are required to run tests as it uses Linux ip command for configuring topology

Action flow when running a test case:

  1. It starts with running make test. Optional arguments are VERBOSE, PERSIST (topology configuration isn't cleaned up after test run), TEST=<test-name> to run a specific test and PARALLEL=[n-cpus].

  2. make list-tests (or make help) shows all tests. The current list of tests is at the bottom of this document.

  3. Ginkgo looks for a spec suite in the current directory and then compiles it to a .test binary

  4. The Ginkgo test framework runs each function that was registered manually using registerMySuiteTest(s *MySuite). Each of these functions correspond to a suite

  5. Ginkgo's RunSpecs(t, "Suite description") function is the entry point and does the following:

  1. Ginkgo compiles the spec, builds a spec tree

  2. Describe container nodes in suite_*_test.go files are run (in series by default, or in parallel with the argument PARALLEL=[n-cpus])

  3. Suite is initialized. The topology is loaded and configured in this step

  4. Registered tests are run in generated It subject nodes

  5. Execute tear-down functions, which currently consists of stopping running containers and clean-up of test topology

Adding a test case

This describes adding a new test case to an existing suite. For adding a new suite, please see Modifying the framework below.

  1. To write a new test case, create a file whose name ends with _test.go or pick one that already exists

  2. Declare method whose name ends with Test and specifies its parameter as a pointer to the suite's struct (defined in suite_*_test.go)

  3. Implement test behaviour inside the test method. This typically includes the following:

    1. Retrieve a running container in which to run some action. Method getContainerByName from HstSuite struct serves this purpose

    2. Interact with VPP through the VppInstance struct embedded in container. It provides vppctl method to access debug CLI

    3. Run arbitrary commands inside the containers with exec method

    4. Run other external tool with one of the preexisting functions in the utils.go file. For example, use wget with startWget function

    5. Use exechelper or just plain exec packages to run whatever else

    6. Verify results of your tests using assert methods provided by the test suite, implemented by HstSuite struct or use Gomega assert functions.

  4. Create an init() function and register the test using register*SuiteTests(testCaseFunction)

Example test case

Assumed are two docker containers, each with its own VPP instance running. One VPP then pings the other. This can be put in file extras/hs-test/my_test.go and run with command make test TEST=MyTest or ginkgo -v --trace --focus MyTest.

package main

import (

func init(){

func MyTest(s *MySuite) {
        clientVpp := s.getContainerByName("client-vpp").vppInstance

        serverVethAddress := s.netInterfaces["server-iface"].AddressString()

        result := clientVpp.vppctl("ping " + serverVethAddress)

Modifying the framework

Adding a test suite

  1. To add a new suite, create a new file. Naming convention for the suite files is suite_name_test.go where name will be replaced by the actual name

  2. Make a struct, in the suite file, with at least HstSuite struct as its member. HstSuite provides functionality that can be shared for all suites, like starting containers

    type MySuite struct {
  3. Create a new slice that will contain test functions with a pointer to the suite's struct: var myTests = []func(s *MySuite){}

  4. Then create a new function that will append test functions to that slice:

    func registerMySuiteTests(tests ...func(s *MySuite)) {
            nginxTests = append(myTests, tests...)
  5. In suite file, implement SetupSuite method which Ginkgo runs once before starting any of the tests. It's important here to call configureNetworkTopology method, pass the topology name to the function in a form of file name of one of the yaml files in topo-network folder. Without the extension. In this example, myTopology corresponds to file extras/hs-test/topo-network/myTopology.yaml This will ensure network topology, such as network interfaces and namespaces, will be created. Another important method to call is loadContainerTopology() which will load containers and shared volumes used by the suite. This time the name passed to method corresponds to file in extras/hs-test/topo-containers folder

    func (s *MySuite) SetupSuite() {
            // Add custom setup code here
  6. In suite file, implement SetupTest method which gets executed before each test. Starting containers and configuring VPP is usually placed here

    func (s *MySuite) SetupTest() {
  7. In order for Ginkgo to run this suite, we need to create a Describe container node with setup nodes and an It subject node. Place them at the end of the suite file

    • Declare a suite struct variable before anything else

    • To use BeforeAll() and AfterAll(), the container has to be marked as Ordered

    • Because the container is now marked as Ordered, if a test fails, all the subsequent tests are skipped. To override this behavior, decorate the container node with ContinueOnFailure

      var _ = Describe("MySuite", Ordered, ContinueOnFailure, func() {
      var s MySuite
      BeforeAll(func() {
      BeforeEach(func() {
      AfterAll(func() {
      AfterEach(func() {
      for _, test := range mySuiteTests {
              test := test
              pc := reflect.ValueOf(test).Pointer()
              funcValue := runtime.FuncForPC(pc)
              It(strings.Split(funcValue.Name(), ".")[2], func(ctx SpecContext) {
              }, SpecTimeout(time.Minute*5))
  8. Notice the loop - it will generate multiple It nodes, each running a different test. test := test is necessary, otherwise only the last test in a suite will run. For a more detailed description, check Ginkgo's documentation:

  9. funcValue.Name() returns the full name of a function (e.g., however, we only need the test name (MyTest).

  10. To run certain tests solo, create a new slice that will only contain tests that have to run solo and a new register function. Add a Serial decorator to the container node and Label("SOLO") to the It subject node:

    var _ = Describe("MySuiteSolo", Ordered, ContinueOnFailure, Serial, func() {
            It(strings.Split(funcValue.Name(), ".")[2], Label("SOLO"), func(ctx SpecContext) {
            }, SpecTimeout(time.Minute*5))
  11. Next step is to add test cases to the suite. For that, see section Adding a test case above

Adding a topology element

Topology configuration exists as yaml files in the extras/hs-test/topo-network and extras/hs-test/topo-containers folders. Processing of a network topology file for a particular test suite is started by the configureNetworkTopology method depending on which file's name is passed to it. Specified file is loaded and converted into internal data structures which represent various elements of the topology. After parsing the configuration, framework loops over the elements and configures them one by one on the host system.

These are currently supported types of network elements.

  • netns - network namespace

  • veth - veth network interface, optionally with target network namespace or IPv4 address

  • bridge - ethernet bridge to connect created interfaces, optionally with target network namespace

  • tap - tap network interface with IP address

Similarly, container topology is started by loadContainerTopology(), configuration file is processed so that test suite retains map of defined containers and uses that to start them at the beginning of each test case and stop containers after the test finishes. Container configuration can specify also volumes which allow to share data between containers or between host system and containers.

Supporting a new type of topology element requires adding code to recognize the new element type during loading. And adding code to set up the element in the host system with some Linux tool, such as ip. This should be implemented in netconfig.go for network and in container.go for containers and volumes.

Communicating between containers

When two VPP instances or other applications, each in its own Docker container, want to communicate there are typically two ways this can be done within hs-test.

  • Network interfaces. Containers are being created with -d --network host options, so they are connected with interfaces created in host system

  • Shared folders. Containers are being created with -v option to create shared volumes between host system and containers or just between containers

Host system connects to VPP instances running in containers using a shared folder where binary API socket is accessible by both sides.

Adding an external tool

If an external program should be executed as part of a test case, it might be useful to wrap its execution in its own function. These types of functions are placed in the utils.go file. If the external program is not available by default in Docker image, add its installation to extras/hs-test/Dockerfile.vpp in apt-get install command. Alternatively copy the executable from host system to the Docker image, similarly how the VPP executables and libraries are being copied.

Skipping tests

HstSuite provides several methods that can be called in tests for skipping it conditionally or unconditionally such as: skip(), SkipIfMultiWorker(), SkipUnlessExtendedTestsBuilt(). You can also use Ginkgo's Skip(). However the tests currently run under test suites which set up topology and containers before actual test is run. For the reason of saving test run time it is not advisable to use aforementioned skip methods and instead, just don't register the test.

Debugging a test

It is possible to debug VPP by attaching gdb before test execution by adding DEBUG=true like follows:

$ make test TEST=LDPreloadIperfVppTest DEBUG=true
run following command in different terminal:
docker exec -it server-vpp2456109 gdb -ex "attach $(docker exec server-vpp2456109 pidof vpp)"
Afterwards press CTRL+\ to continue

If a test consists of more VPP instances then this is done for each of them.

Eternal dependencies

  • Linux tools ip, brctl

  • Standalone programs wget, iperf3 - since these are downloaded when Docker image is made, they are reasonably up-to-date automatically

  • Programs in Docker images - envoyproxy/envoy-contrib and nginx

  • http_server - homegrown application that listens on specified port and sends a test file in response

  • Non-standard Go libraries - see extras/hs-test/go.mod

Generally, these will be updated on a per-need basis, for example when a bug is discovered or a new version incompatibility issue occurs.

List of tests

Please update this list whenever you add a new test by pasting the output below.

  • NsSuite/HttpTpsTest

  • NsSuite/VppProxyHttpTcpTest

  • NsSuite/VppProxyHttpTlsTest

  • NsSuite/EnvoyProxyHttpTcpTest

  • NginxSuite/MirroringTest

  • VethsSuiteSolo TcpWithLossTest [SOLO]

  • NoTopoSuiteSolo HttpStaticPromTest [SOLO]

  • TapSuite/LinuxIperfTest

  • NoTopoSuite/NginxHttp3Test

  • NoTopoSuite/NginxAsServerTest

  • NoTopoSuite/NginxPerfCpsTest

  • NoTopoSuite/NginxPerfRpsTest

  • NoTopoSuite/NginxPerfWrkTest

  • VethsSuite/EchoBuiltinTest

  • VethsSuite/HttpCliTest

  • VethsSuite/LDPreloadIperfVppTest

  • VethsSuite/VppEchoQuicTest

  • VethsSuite/VppEchoTcpTest

  • VethsSuite/VppEchoUdpTest

  • VethsSuite/XEchoVclClientUdpTest

  • VethsSuite/XEchoVclClientTcpTest

  • VethsSuite/XEchoVclServerUdpTest

  • VethsSuite/XEchoVclServerTcpTest

  • VethsSuite/VclEchoTcpTest

  • VethsSuite/VclEchoUdpTest

  • VethsSuite/VclRetryAttachTest