Setting up a distributed Autotest production environment

This document aims to discuss how to setup a distributed autotest environment.

The problem

The standard Autotest production environment uses a single server to do many things:

  • Run MySQL for the frontend and results databases
  • Run Apache for the AFE and TKO web interfaces
  • Run a scheduler to coordinate job executions
  • Run many Autoserv processes to execute tests on remote machines
  • Store all results in a single results repository directory

As the size of an Autotest server grows, and in particular as the number of concurrent machines under test grows, this single-server setup can run into scalability limitations quickly. In order to allow continued growth of an Autotest production environment, the Autotest system supports breaking out these roles onto different machines. Once properly configured, the difference should be nearly invisible to users.

MySQL and Apache

Autotest has always been capable of using a remote database server -the global_config.ini file contains parameters for database hostname. The web interfaces are almost exclusively dependent on the database, so they too are fairly simple to break out.

Scheduler, Autoserv and the Results Repository

The main complexity in a distributed setup arises in the scheduler. The scheduler is responsible for reading the database, executing Autoserv processes, and gathering the results into a central location. So the scheduler must be capable of executing Autoserv processes on remote machines and transferring the results files to a separate results repository machine. This behavior is achieved through the following global_config parameters:

  • `` drones ``: a “drone” is a machine that will be used to execute
    Autoserv processes. This parameter should be a comma-separated list of hostnames for machines to be used as drones.
  • `` results_host ``: the hostname of the machine to use as the results

Any machine used as a drone or results repository must be set up for passwordless SSH from the scheduler, just as for machines under test. In addition, these hosts must have the results directory created with read/write permissions for the SSH user (the results directory is passed to the scheduler on the command line). They must also have Autotest installed at the location given in the `` drone_installation_directory `` global_config option. This may be the same as the results directory. Finally, since the parser will run on the drones, they must have TKO database parameters properly configured in global_config.ini.

Note that `` localhost `` is a valid hostname for either option, and when using localhost, SSH is not required to be set up. For a single-server setup, both options would simply be set to `` localhost ``.

See GlobalConfig for more options that can be used.

Viewing results files from the web

With the above setup, your jobs will execute successfully, but viewing results through the web remains a challenge because the logs may not reside on the same machine as Apache. For this reason, both AFE and TKO perform all log retrieval through the `` tko/retrieve_logs.cgi `` script. This script reads the global_config options above, as well as a third:

  • `` archive_host `` (optional): an additional hostname to check for
    results files when they cannot be found elsewhere. System administrators may manually move results off of the main results repository to this machine.

`` retrieve_logs.cgi `` attempts to fetch the requested log file from the results repository, then from each drone, and finally from the archive host, until it succeeds. If it succeeds, it redirects the user to the appropriate host. For this to work properly, all drones, the results repository host, and the optional archive host must all be running Apache with the results directory mapped to `` /results ``.


So now you know how to configure a distributed Autotest environment. But how do you figure out what distribution of components is necessary? Here are a few general tips:

  • The most important thing to do is to run the Autoserv processes on a different machine than MySQL. These components are usually the two biggest resource hogs. Each Autoserv process should not be too resource-intensive, but since there will be at least one process per host under test, there can be a huge number of Autoserv processes running concurrently.
  • Since the web interfaces and the scheduler depend heavily on the database, it can be beneficial to run Apache and the Scheduler on the same machine as MySQL. Since Apache and the Scheduler are not very resource intensive, this is generally not a performance problem.
  • The drones will often end up being the bottleneck in a large system, and the Autoserv processes will most likely be IO-bound. Therefore, configuring drones with performance-enhancing RAID setups can provide a dramatic increase in system capacity.
  • For system reliability, it is often beneficial to isolate drones for running Autoserv processes only. Large numbers of Autoserv processes are the most likely components to crash the system. With dedicated drones, an machine crash due to Autoserv will not affect the web interfaces, and if multiple drones are being used, jobs can continue to run uninterrupted on other drones.