What is KUnit?

KUnit is a lightweight unit testing and mocking framework for the Linux kernel. These tests are able to be run locally on a developer’s workstation without a VM or special hardware.

KUnit is heavily inspired by JUnit, Python’s unittest.mock, and Googletest/Googlemock for C++. KUnit provides facilities for defining unit test cases, grouping related test cases into test suites, providing common infrastructure for running tests, mocking, spying, and much more. Get started now: Using KUnit

Who is it for?

If you work on the Linux kernel, then KUnit is for you.

Why KUnit?

Aside from KUnit there is no true unit testing framework for the Linux kernel. Autotest and kselftest are sometimes cited as unit testing frameworks; however, they are not by most reasonable definitions of unit tests.

A unit test is supposed to test a single unit of code in isolation, hence the name. A unit test should be the finest granularity of testing and as such should allow all possible code paths to be tested in the code under test; this is only possible if the code under test is very small and does not have any external dependencies outside of the test’s control like hardware.

As far as I know, outside of KUnit, there are no testing frameworks currently available for the kernel that do not require installing the kernel on a test machine or in a VM and all require tests to be written in userspace running on the kernel; this is true for Autotest, kselftest, and Kokonut, disqualifying any of them from being considered unit testing frameworks.

KUnit addresses the problem of being able to run tests without needing a virtual machine or actual hardware with User Mode Linux. User Mode Linux is a Linux architecture, like ARM or x86; however, unlike other architectures it compiles to a standalone program that can be run like any other program directly inside of a host operating system; to be clear, it does not require any virtualization support; it is just a regular program. User Mode Linux is fast: on my desktop it boots to init process in under a second.

How do I use it?

  • Using KUnit - for new users of KUnit

  • For upstream KUnit: - Usage - for a more detailed explanation of KUnit features - API - for the list of KUnit APIs used for testing

  • For experimental KUnit: - Usage - for a more detailed explanation of KUnit features - API - for the list of KUnit APIs used for testing

Where do I get it?

Not sure which one you want? Take a look at Using KUnit.

Connect with us


If you want to contribute to KUnit in the Linux kernel (which is just the same as contributing to the Linux kernel, please see the Linux kernel’s guide on contributing.

For other KUnit repositories (CI/CD, vim plugin, etc), please see CONTRIBUTING.md.

In all cases, you will also want to take a look at Development.