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Strategic updates from the KernelCI project

By Blog, Community, News

The KernelCI project continues on its mission to ensure the quality, stability and long-term maintenance of the Linux kernel. That means supporting the community (especially maintainers) to not just run their code in a Continuous Integration (CI) system, but also deliver relevant, high confidence results and reports. In this post, we will give you a strategic overview of the steps we have taken towards our mission over the past few months.

Enabling new infrastructure to run tests

Our legacy system has shown its age and it has been failing to meet the growing testing needs of the community. It is a quite limited, unstable python2 project that focuses on embedded hardware. We continue on the journey to put in place our new infrastructure, so we can finally move away from the legacy KernelCI system.

We bring good news! The new core service for running tests is already in place, but still going through a stabilization phase. So, the team is ramping up the number of tests slowly to deal with issues that arise especially when it comes to the quality of the testing KernelCI provides. We do not want to repeat past mistakes with results that can’t really be trusted, so our focus right now is on quality rather than quantity. The team is iterating quickly on that process to enable open, wide adoption in the coming months.

In our new KernelCI infrastructure, we already have support to run tests in labs (through LAVA only at the moment), Docker containers, Kubernetes and natively. Adding new labs or test environments should be relatively straightforward. Then, as we add more test environments, we are also laying down the foundation for integration with other CI systems across the community so we can share kernel builds and offer test environments.

As we shared before, the new infrastructure exposes an API for users to create accounts, query results and even drive tests themselves. At the moment, we are focusing on enabling our own pipeline there, so we can shut down the legacy system. But anyone is welcome to request a user account and try it out.

Another initiative from the KernelCI community is the GitLab CI support in the mainline kernel. Here, the goal is to offer maintainers a CI environment that they can manage themselves. With time, KernelCI API can be leveraged to provide a backend for builds and test runs for repositories using GitLab CI.

Trusting tests results and reports

On one end, we are stabilizing our new infrastructure to run the tests. On the other end, we are looking into improving the quality of the reports KernelCI sends out, so maintainers and developers can actually trust them. Given the huge amount of data coming out of test systems and bots today, we must invest in improving the delivery of the results, or else, KernelCI will be contributing to increasing the maintainer burnout rather than helping solve it. That means improving the quality and confidence of the data, so maintainers and developers only receive reports packed with relevant information and no noise or false-positives.

At the time of this writing, we have a handful of trees enabled, boot testing and a few tests enabled (including kselftest support) in our new test infrastructure. That setup is enabling the team to triage ALL the results to identify infrastructure failures and test patterns in general (flakiness, config issue, intermittent issues, etc). There is a significant investment to develop better tests together with the community (like the device tree probe kselftest) that is improving the quality of the results compared to what exists in our legacy system.

As part of the effort, we are developing a layer for post-processing the test results in KCIDB – the KernelCI database to collect test results from the entire Linux kernel test ecosystem. The work in this area is at proof-of-concept level, but it is already enabling the team to evaluate the results coming from our new infrastructure. The post-processing layer should be a key part of the feedback loop with the community. The goal is to increase automation in triaging the results, saving precious time from kernel maintainers. Also, because KCIDB collects data from various CI systems, the post-processing of test results can be enabled for more systems than just KernelCI.

On top of that, the KernelCI team is redesigning the Web Dashboard UX to enable rich visualization of all that data for the entire community. A public request for feedback on UX should go out in the coming weeks.

It’s all about engaging the community in testing

Solving CI needs for the Linux kernel community is not just a technical challenge. It is in big part a community engagement challenge too. The KernelCI project has a strong focus on engaging the community in testing processes. With our new infrastructure coming into place, we are ready to give a new spin to our Community Engagement initiative.

For that, we are forming a Community Engagement Working Group (WG). The WG will focus on connecting with maintainers to discuss and implement improvements in test quality for their subsystems and also act as a feedback recipient for improvements in our post-processing of the test results. The Community Engagement WG will be led by Shuah Khan, kernel maintainer & Linux Fellow at The Linux Foundation.

A dedicated announcement of the Community Engagement WG was sent to the KernelCI mailing list. If you are interested in participating, raise your hand!

Where are we going from here?

As you can see, a lot is going on in KernelCI at the moment. The team is iterating quickly on the development of the new infrastructure, so we will be engaging with new maintainers and developers every month from now on, bringing them to the new infra and pushing the system limit further. If you are a maintainer and want to bring your tests to KernelCI please send us an email at

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for updates on topics discussed in this article. Likewise, as the new infrastructure stabilizes, expect a significant amount of documentation updates too.

We thank all KernelCI member organizations and developer community who have been investing in the project over the years. It is only because of the continued support from our community that we are making the legacy system a past story!

Exciting KernelCI TSC updates

By Blog, Community, News

During our last TSC meeting, on March 14th, we had two votes that brought new winds to our community:

Shuah Khan joins the TSC

Shuah, Kernel Maintainer & Linux Fellow at The Linux Foundation, has been elected a new member of the TSC. We believe Shuah’s experience will help the KernelCI project expand its kernel community engagement efforts, taking testing and CI to more parts of the upstream kernel. Welcome, Shuah!

Nikolai Kondrashov elected as the new TSC Chair

Nikolai has been a longstanding contributor under the KernelCI umbrella and the person behind KCIDB. At Red Hat he also contributes to kernel integration technology. His knowledge around the problems KernelCI needs to solve will help the project greatly. His role will be effective on April 1st. All the best to Nikolai in his new role!

While at it, we thank Guillaume for his tenure as TSC Chair of the project!

The detail of the motions which were voted can be found on the TSC documentation.

UX Research for the new Web Dashboard

By Blog, Community, News

Following the UX Analysis RFP we shared a few months ago, we’re now delighted to announce that the KernelCI Advisory Board has accepted a proposal. First of all, we’re grateful to have received such a series of high-quality proposals. Many thanks once again to all the submitters for your interest in the project.

After carefully considering all the options with the board and some TSC members, the vote came out in favour of ProFUSION. Congratulations! We’re looking forward to the next milestones, in fact the work has already started.


The UX Analysis project is broken down into three milestones with four weeks assigned to each, so a total of twelve weeks. Some breaks will also be scheduled during this time so the calendar end date is likely to be in March 2024.

M1: Result of interviews

Some interviews will be carried out with various stakeholders to help refine user stories and start modelling the user experience and some design aspects.

M2: First UX design proposal

A first interactive prototype will then be created and made available for members of the public to evaluate and provide feedback.

M3: Final UX design proposal

Based on the feedback and outcome of the first two milestones, the last part is about creating high-level specifications of the web dashboard design suitable for the implementation phase.

KernelCI API Early Access

By Blog, Community

Free for all

Today is the beginning of the Early Access phase for the new KernelCI API. As explained briefly in the previous blog post, this is to give everyone a chance to create a user account and start using the API for beta-testing purposes. There’s now an Early Access documentation page with a quick guide to get started, so please go take a look there and start taking part.

A work in progress

Although the fundamental principles of the API & Pipeline have now settled a bit, it is still under active development. In particular, we’re expecting to see a fair amount of changes in these areas:

kci command line tool

It’s still very new and only provides some basic features, so now it needs some proper design. For example, new commands should be added and it might become more human-readable with things like kci find node rather than kci node find.

Build and test coverage

This can only grow as right now there’s only KUnit, one x86 build and one QEMU smoke test run for each kernel revision (and only from mainline). Starting to scale this up will help tackle the main bottlenecks and performance issues in the infrastructure before reaching production quality.


Yes, now that things are shaping up we should also be taking good care of the overall documentation and general ease of use of the project. This should also encompass things such as moderation rules to ensure continuity of the project.

A two-way process

This system is made for you, all the members of the wider Linux kernel ecosystem. So while there’s a small but growing team of developers still typing away all the code needed to make it happen, we need your feedback to help shape things up in such a way that it actually delivers on its expectations.

Please experiment as much as you like and share your stories, thoughts and questions via the project’s usual communication channels. Also feel free to create issues on GitHub and send pull requests of course.

Happy beta-testing!

API Transition Timeline

By Blog, Community

Once upon a time, on a Thursday afternoon somewhere in Italy, a KernelCI backend API was created:

commit 08c9b0879ebe81463e124308192670c0e7447e0b
Author: Milo Casagrande <>
Date:   Thu Feb 20 16:10:41 2014 +0100

    First commit.

As you can see, it was nearly 10 years ago. How much does that represent in the modern software world? Of course, it depends. The Linux kernel is much older, still written in C and still going strong. But in most cases, including this particular one, it means a whole new world. The old API was written in Python 2.7 which stopped being maintained as a language on 1st January 2020. We could have just rewritten it in Python 3, which was the initial thought. But in the meantime, KernelCI was also growing as a project. It wasn’t just about building ARM kernels and doing boot testing on embedded dev boards any more. It had become a Linux Foundation project aiming to test the whole upstream kernel.

What is this new API?

Following this move, an increasing number of people became interested as it got under the spotlight. That is when we started to realise that the architecture needed to fundamentally evolve in order to match the scale of the new mission it had been assigned. The Linux kernel is a vast and complex open-source project with a unique ecosystem. As such, it requires some unique tooling too. We all know that Git was initially created out of a need to manage all the kernel patches. Now KernelCI needs an automated testing tool tailor-made to its unique requirements – and that’s why we’re finally launching the new API & Pipeline.

It comes with lots of improvements and it’s still a work-in-progress. We’ll keep publishing blog posts and update the documentation as things evolve over the next few months. Right now we have a pipeline that can monitor Git repositories for new revisions, take a snapshot of the kernel source tree in a tarball, run KUnit with it as well as an x86 kernel build and smoke test it in QEMU. It can then also send a summary email and detect regressions. That’s basically enough to prove we have a workable system. Nothing too groundbreaking there, you might think. So, what’s all the fuss about?

In a nutshell: a Pub/Sub interface to orchestrate distributed client-side services that can be run anywhere. You could have your own too at home. Also: user accounts so you can keep your own personal test data there, an abstraction for runtime environments so jobs can be run seamlessly in Docker, Kubernetes, a local shell, LAVA, [insert your own system here]… a new kci command line tool to rule them all and a unified Node schema to contain all the test data (revision, build, runtime test, regression…) in a tree. But again, we’ll go through all that later in more detail. It’s all based on requirements gathered from the community over the past few years.


The main message in this blog post is the timeline for retiring the old system and getting the new API in production. Here’s the proposal:Early AccessMonday 4th September 2023Production DeploymentMonday 4th December 2023Legacy System DeprecationMonday 4th March 2024Legacy System SunsetMonday 4th November 2024

It only takes four Monday-the-Forth milestones to get through all this. Here’s what they mean:

Early Access

This is when a new API & Pipeline instance becomes available to let the public experiment with it. It can be seen as some form of beta-testing. It will be deployed in the Cloud to evaluate how a real production instance would behave, but it’s only kept online as a best effort. There should be frequent updates as the code evolves, probably at least weekly and at most daily. Only changes that made it through early testing on the staging instance should be deployed so it’s meant to be reasonably stable.

Production Deployment

The plan is to build upon the experience learned from the Early Access deployment to prepare a persistent instance that would eventually become the production one. Data should be carefully kept and backed up, changes in the database schema should go through managed migrations and the API code should be deployed from tagged releases. As soon as this has become reliable enough we might shut down the Early Access instance since it should have become redundant by then.

Legacy System Deprecation

In other words, this is when the new API & Pipeline production instance becomes the official main KernelCI instance. We’ll first be going through a transition phase to ramp up the build and test coverage on the new API while equally reducing the load on the legacy system to avoid overloading the shared infrastructure. Ideally, coverage should have reached 80% on the new API and 20% on the old one by this date.

Legacy System Sunset

After being deprecated, the legacy system will keep running with a bare minimal amount of coverage just to facilitate the transition for users who depended the most on it. It will be definitely shut down and the data will be archived when finally reaching the Sunset milestone.

Stay tuned

These dates have been identified as realistic targets for having the new API rolled out and retiring the old one with a transition in between. We’ll be aiming to have the new API in place by these dates and conversely retire the legacy system no sooner than announced here.

In the meantime, we’ll be posting updates as these milestones get reached or if any alterations need to be managed. We’ll also clarify how to use the API and exactly what features become available alongside the main documentation. Please share with us any feedback you may have, if you need some clarifications or to raise any concerns. The best way to do this is via the mailing list as always. Stay tuned!

Request for Proposals: UX Analysis 2023 – Q&A

By Blog, Community

Following the UX Analysis RFP, we’ve received a number of questions which seem worth sharing publicly in order to equally benefit all the proposals we receive.

Big Picture

What are your organization’s most important broader goals with this new dashboard?

We’ve identified a requirement to have a web dashboard in a community survey we did a couple of years ago. It’s mostly about providing Linux kernel developers with the information they need to facilitate their daily workflows, and also other types of users for example if they’re basing their products on the upstream kernel and need to monitor its quality.

What are biggest issues or problems you’re having with your current system that prompted this UX Analysis RFP?

We currently have a very old web dashboard with an associated backend that can’t be maintained any more. On top of that, the project has been growing and we’re now redesigning the whole approach to be able to better scale with a new API which doesn’t have any actual web dashboard right now.

What factors made your team decide to release an RFP for this project?

None of the KernelCI LF project members had enough in-house expertise. Also, looking for an independent external supplier appeared as an appropriate choice in this case.

Is there an incumbent bidder on this project?

No, this is the first RFP we do about UX Analysis and web development in general.

How will vendors be evaluated and scored?

We will come up with some criteria as a basic comparison method, then each member of the advisory board will look at all the proposals and we’ll discuss it and eventually hold a vote. We may also inquire further with some vendors if needed.

How many rounds of revisions and how many UX flows are you expecting as part of this project?

This is very hard to predict as we’re still in the early design stages. There should probably be a small number both of revisions and flows (e.g. 2 or 3), maybe later we would be dealing with incremental changes resulting in more revisions as part of the full implementation efforts.

Do you have a preference regarding the vendor’s location?

No, there is no preference over the country where the vendor is located. The KernelCI project’s team is remotely distributed around the world.


Would you need any copywriting or content migration services?

None that we’re currently aware of.

Would you need any original or stock videography or photography?

Not with the UX Analysis phase. We might need some original content for a final website in production.

How much content do you currently have on your website?

Our static websites have tens of pages. Our current dynamic web dashboard has millions of entries, and this is what we’re expecting to see covered by the UX Analysis. Some static content may be part of the interactive web dashboard but it’s not the primary goal.

Is there a CMS that you have a preference for over the other?

No, however we do have an API for storing our data. How this is turned into a UX and web dashboard is up to the vendor to decide as part of the proposal.

What CMS platform do you use currently?

For some static websites we use WordPress and Hugo, but this UX Analysis work is for an interactive web dashboard. We don’t have any particular CMS requirements for it.


Would you require hosting, dns or ssl services?

No, the KernelCI project can take care of this.

How much initial research has been done as part of this RFP?

A lot of research has been done in the past few years to try and understand what the public and users need. What’s missing is how this may translate into an actual UX. We now have some ideas about “what” we need but not “how” users can have it.

Are there any factors driving the timeline for the completion of the work?

We’re developing a new API which will be used hand-in-hand with the web dashboard. The timeline isn’t set in stone but having a prototype dashboard or basic demo around the end of September would be great. We’re thinking of having the new API in production in the first half of 2024 so it would be good to see the web dashboard getting finalised around that time too.

Can you give us a high-level overview of the demographics of each persona from the user stories?

  • “Someone who cares about the kernel” can be literally anyone, from a student to a high-profile maintainer or developer. The only real criteria is that they need to know about the upstream kernel code quality. There may be a million people in this category.
  • “Kernel / subsystem maintainer” are a relatively small set of people in charge of accepting changes into the kernel. They form some sort of pyramid of trust with several maintainers sending their collected changes to a common maintainer etc. Like any kernel contributors, they are located around the world and have various levels of experience. There’s maybe about 100 subsystem maintainers and 1000 maintainers responsible for smaller areas of the code.

Do you have examples of the email reports that are sent with summaries of test results?

Are the test results currently stored in a database that the new web dashboard will visualize?

Yes, the new API has an auto-generated documentation with OpenAPI description. This is still a staging instance for experiments, we’re planning to roll out a production-like instance in the coming weeks and start refining the schema. Basically, all the test data is contained in a tree of Node objects. The underlying engine is MongoDB, and we’re looking into using Atlas for this. The API also features a Pub/Sub interface for events that trigger different stages of the testing pipeline on the client side.

The KCIDB database has a different schema, but the web dashboard wouldn’t necessarily need to read data from both sources. That’s something we still need to define, there are several ways to solve this. It’s also something which might depend on the outcome of the UX Analysis. There’s already an interim web dashboard for KCIDB based on Grafana.

Request for Proposals: UX Analysis 2023

By Blog, Community, News

The KernelCI project runs thousands of Linux kernel tests every day, generating a huge amount of data to help the community identify issues and trends. One way to communicate all this is through a bespoke web application that truly embodies the kernel community’s use cases. This Request For Proposals (RFP) aims to be an initial investigation to understand how the User Experience (UX) of the Web Dashboard could look like based on a set of user stories compiled by the KernelCI team.


We’re expecting vendors to submit a fixed-price proposal showing the total costs for the different phases they plan for the project. Optional or extra phases can be included as well. The vendors have autonomy to propose a process for the iterative feedback roadmap. Payments would be made by the Linux Foundation using the project’s own budget.

Sending proposals

Please take a look at the full RFP-UX-Analysis-2023-v2.pdf document for all the details. Proposals should be sent by email directly to the project members.

The deadline for responding to this RFP is 10th July 2023, six weeks after it has been made public. Then the KernelCI Advisory Board of Members will vote on the 24th July 2023. Exact dates might be subject to change in case of a major practical issue or unavailability of voting members.

Edit: Following a surge in last-minute queries, the timeline has now been extended. The new deadline for submitting proposals is 24th July 2023 and the advisory board is planning to hold a vote on 9th August 2023.

KernelCI at FOSDEM 2023

By Blog, Community, News

Taking place February 4th and 5th, FOSDEM is a fantastic event organised “by the community for the community” in Brussels, Belgium, Europe. FOSDEM provides Open Source communities a place to meet in person.

The KernelCI initiative is delighted to be present at FOSDEM 2023.

Testing is recognized by all to be critically important for Open Source communities at large, and not enough is being done. The KernelCI initiative (a Linux Foundation project) intends to change that.

During the weekend of FOSDEM 2023, please keep testing in mind throughout the conversations you will be having with peers and members of the community.

Remind yourself and your interlocutors of the importance of testing and the existence of the KernelCI initiative.

Find out more about KernelCI

Mission statement:

Interested to see your tests ran by KernelCI natively? Here is how to get started with KernelCI.

You already have your own automated execution of tests and would be interested/willing to contribute your results? Please see the KCIDB submitter guide.

You can find the catalog (yaml file) of the tests integrated today here. Some of the most notable test suites reporting today: bpf, kselftest, ltp, perftool, podman, Redhat’s test suites, stress-ng, syzkaller, xfstests, and many more.

If you would like some help, please reach out to the KernelCI community:

Members of the KernelCI Advisory Board (AB) and Technical Steering Committee (TSC) will be present in-person at FOSDEM 2023. Many will be in the Testing and Automation devroom (Sunday morning in room UB4.132).

Looking forward to meeting as many as possible in Brussels, February 4th and 5th 2023.

A case for DAG databases Correlating revision history with CI results

  • Track: Graph Systems and Algorithms devroom
  • Room: K.4.601
  • Day: Saturday
  • Start: 12:00

Growing a lab for automated upstream testing: challenges and lessons learned

  • Track: Testing and Automation devroom
  • Room: UB4.132
  • Day: Sunday
  • Start: 09:30

Rethinking device support for the long-term

  • Track: Kernel devroom
  • Room: UA2.220 (Guillissen)
  • Day: Sunday
  • Start: 16:30

Now KernelCI has a dedicated SysAdmin!

By Blog, Community, News

Recently, we posted about the Request For Proposals to undertake SysAdmin tasks for That process is now complete, and we are delighted to announce that the KernelCI advisory board hired Vince Hillier from Revenni Inc to conduct the work.

Vince will work together with the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) to maintain and improve the current project infrastructure. As scales with more kernels being built and more tests being run, we definitely need help to keep our systems stable and up to date.

The KernelCI project relies on a number of web services which need constant maintenance. These include databases, automation tools and web dashboards for several instances. Some are hosted on dedicated virtual machines (VMs), others in the cloud.

Request for Proposals: Sysadmin Maintenance 2022

By Blog, Community, News


The KernelCI project relies on a number of web services which need constant maintenance. These include databases, automation tools and web dashboards for several instances. Some are hosted on dedicated virtual machines (VMs), others in the cloud. This Request for Proposals seeks to extend the current team with dedicated sysadmins to ensure the maintenance of these services is being carried out to guarantee a good quality of service. Additionally, some improvements can be made to reduce the maintenance burden.


We’re expecting quotations for this work package to range between 15,000 and 30,000 USD depending on the contents of the proposal and for a period of six months. Longer sysadmin time available and extra improvements can justify a higher price. Payments would be made via the Linux Foundation using the project’s own budget.

Sending proposals

Please take a look at the full RFP-Sysadmin-Maintenance-2022-v3.pdf document for all the details. Proposals should be sent by email directly to the project members.

The deadline for responding to this RFP is 8th August 2022, six weeks after it has been made public. Then the KernelCI Advisory Board of Members will vote on the 24th August 2022. Exact dates might be subject to change in case of a major practical issue or unavailability of voting members.