Linux Scales New Test Platform

Testing has always been a critical part of IT and certainly has become a fundamental component of Linux adoption.
One of the most critical core pieces of Linux testing got a significant upgrade this week, courtesy of
the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL), with
version 3.0.1 of the Scalable Test Platform (STP).

Written in Perl and licensed under the GPL ,
STP is an enterprise-grade test harness used by the OSDL
for Linux kernel testing. It provides a set of test suites that allow for code-change validation
in the Linux kernel, as well quantifies stability and automatically tracks performance.

“The purpose of this tool is to automate installation, configuration and set-up test systems, run the tests and
collect the data in an easily accessible and configurable format,” according to the OSDL.

STP played an important role in the development release of the recent 2.6 kernel. More than 1,000 kernel
tests per month were performed on the new kernel during its development phase, and subsequently the OSDL claims
to have run over 10,000 additional tests on its production.

“The STP was helpful to us in delivering a stable 2.6 kernel at the first release,” said Andrew Morton, lead
maintainer of the production of the Linux kernel, in a statement. “Any developer or organization working around the kernel
will find this a useful tool.”

New functionality in the latest version includes multiple-repository, which permits patches for software beyond the kernel to
be added and tested against. Test options that tests receive can now be viewed and entered in a Web interface
using checkboxes and input fields.

Also, a number of bug fixes have been made. The new version expands
the feature set of the platform into a number of areas, with one of the aims being to help simulate the different
workload impact of popular open source databases, including MySQL and PostgreSQL.

According to Josh Berkus, a member of the PostgreSQL core team, STP has already been very helpful for the PostgreSQL
open source database project.

“It’s already done something for us,” Berkus told “[OSDL’s] testing and retesting has
helped us to troubleshoot some query planner problems that affected people with large data warehouses.”

In Berkus’ view, STP also plays a part in helping open source projects in general as a test bed for enterprise

“One of the particularly big issues for us and other projects is that, as a volunteer developer for an open source
project, you generally don’t have access to a multi-processor machine for testing,” Berkus explained. “Prior to
OSDL doing this, we really actually didn’t have anywhere where we could test on a quad processor machine, for
example. And as more and more people have started using PostgreSQL as a replacement for Oracle or Informix, it’s
become more important for us to know something about that end of computing.”

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