[nSLUG] Improving QA of Linux distributions

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Fri Jun 24 08:56:08 ADT 2011

On Thu, Jun 23, 2011 at 2:10 PM, Ben Armstrong
<synrg at sanctuary.nslug.ns.ca> wrote:
> Read:
> http://blog.liw.fi/posts/tddd-systest/

Interesting, and potentially of use beyond the specific testing
scenario -- I often
create VM's to run a particular distro/version without messing with the
configuration on my main system. The blog notes some of the limitations
(conflicts with drivers for "real" hardware), but there are also
problems.  Setting up tests manually often involves a network install, then
installing specific packages to duplicate a specific configuration (which might
be one that is failing for some people or, often, the developer's environment
to compare a "works for me/won't fix" configuration with the one that

There is also a need for more testing on a range of platforms.  Large
open source projects: TeX Live, R, some space agency remote sensing
systems rely on modules created by many individuals.  Those individuals
often have just one platform (many are grad students or post-docs who
do all their work on an Intel laptop) so can't test on other platforms --
specifically, big-endian  With TeX Live, there have been problems with
broken big-endian support in 3rd party libraries.  A few developers are using
qemu-ppc or qemu-sparc to run tests, but these emulations are slow so
about all that can be done is "make check" of a library.

With open source, anything that makes it easier for more people to provide
good information about bugs/problems or better understand configuration
conflicts will help improve overall quality.  There is a real need to get
people to do some investigation instead of the Windows approach of
"redo from start" that yields no information and often ends up going
around in circles.   Id like to see more of "if you think the problem
might be solved by a fresh install of the OS, try installing in a VM
first to verify that the problem is solved".

> I've been following Lars's musings on this topic for a while with
> interest. He's already made some significant contributions in the area
> of QA in Debian, such as his earlier work with 'piuparts', and I look
> forward to more from him to help us turn out releases of consistently
> high quality.
> Ben
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George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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