Frequently Asked Questions

How is this different from Autotest, kselftest, etc?

KUnit is a unit testing framework. Autotest, kselftest (and some others) are not.

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.

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 and run on the kernel under test; this is true for Autotest, kselftest, and some others, disqualifying any of them from being considered unit testing frameworks.

What is the difference between a unit test and these other kinds of tests?

Mosts existing tests for the Linux kernel would be categorized as an integration test, or an end-to-end test.

  • 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.
  • An integration test tests the interaction between a minimal set of components, usually just two or three. For example, someone might write an integration test to test the interaction between a driver and a piece of hardware, or to test the interaction between the userspace libraries the kernel provides and the kernel itself; however, one of these tests would probably not test the entire kernel along with hardware interactions and interactions with the userspace.
  • An end-to-end test usually tests the entire system from the perspective of the code under test. For example, someone might write an end-to-end test for the kernel by installing a production configuration of the kernel on production hardware with a production userspace and then trying to exercise some behavior that depends on interactions between the hardware, the kernel, and userspace.