Test parameters


This section describes in detail what test parameters are and how the whole variants mechanism works in Avocado. If you’re interested in the basics, see Accessing test parameters or practical view by examples in Yaml_to_mux plugin.

Avocado allows passing parameters to tests, which effectively results in several different variants of each test. These parameters are available in (test’s) self.params and are of avocado.core.varianter.AvocadoParams type.

The data for self.params are supplied by avocado.core.varianter.Varianter which asks all registered plugins for variants or uses default when no variants are defined.

Overall picture of how the params handling works is:

    |           |  // Test uses variant to produce AvocadoParams
    |   Test    |
    |           |
          |  // single variant is passed to Test
    |  Runner   |  // iterates through tests and runs each test with
    +-----^-----+  // all variants supplied by Varianter
+-------------------+ provide variants +-----------------------+
|                   |<-----------------|                       |
| Varianter API     |                  | Varianter plugins API |
|                   |----------------->|                       |
+-------------------+  update defaults +-----------------------+
          ^                                ^
          |                                |
          |  // default params injected    |  // All plugins are invoked
+--------------------------------------+   |  // in turns
| +--------------+ +-----------------+ |   |
| | avocado-virt | | other providers | |   |
| +--------------+ +-----------------+ |   |
+--------------------------------------+   |
              |                                  |
              |                                  |
              v                                  v
    +--------------------+           +-------------------------+
    | yaml_to_mux plugin |           | Other variant plugin(s) |
    +-----^--------------+           +-------------------------+
          |  // yaml is parsed to MuxTree,
          |  // multiplexed and yields variants
    | +------------+ +--------------+ |
    | | --mux-yaml | | --mux-inject | |
    | +------------+ +--------------+ |

Let’s introduce the basic keywords.

Test’s default params


Every (instrumented) test can hardcode default params by storing a dict in self.default_params. This attribute is checked during avocado.core.test.Test‘s __init__ phase and if present it’s used by AvocadoParams.


Don’t confuse Test’s default params with Default params



Is a node object allowing to create tree-like structures with parent->multiple_children relations and storing params. It can also report it’s environment, which is set of params gathered from root to this node. This is used in tests where instead of passing the full tree only the leaf nodes are passed and their environment represents all the values of the tree.



Is a “database” of params present in every (instrumented) avocado test. It’s produced during avocado.core.test.Test‘s __init__ from a variant. It accepts a list of TreeNode objects; test name avocado.core.test.TestName (for logging purposes); list of default paths (Mux path) and the Test’s default params.

In test it allows querying for data by using:

self.params.get($name, $path=None, $default=None)


  • name - name of the parameter (key)
  • path - where to look for this parameter (when not specified uses mux-path)
  • default - what to return when param not found

Each variant defines a hierarchy, which is preserved so AvocadoParams follows it to return the most appropriate value or raise Exception on error.

Mux path

As test params are organized in trees, it’s possible to have the same variant in several locations. When they are produced from the same TreeNode, it’s not a problem, but when they are a different values there is no way to distinguish which should be reported. One way is to use specific paths, when asking for params, but sometimes, usually when combining upstream and downstream variants, we want to get our values first and fall-back to the upstream ones when they are not found.

For example let’s say we have upstream values in /upstream/sleeptest and our values in /downstream/sleeptest. If we asked for a value using path "*", it’d raise an exception being unable to distinguish whether we want the value from /downstream or /upstream. We can set the mux path to ["/downstream/*", "/upstream/*"] to make all relative calls (path starting with *) to first look in nodes in /downstream and if not found look into /upstream.

More practical overview of mux path is in yaml_to_mux plugin in Resolution order section.


Variant is a set of params produced by Varianter`_s and passed to the test by the test runner as ``params` argument. The simplest variant is None, which still produces AvocadoParams with only the Test’s default params. If dict is used as a Variant, it (safely) updates the default params. Last but not least the Variant can also be a tuple(list, mux_path) or just the list of avocado.core.tree.TreeNode with the params.



Is an internal object which is used to interact with the variants mechanism in Avocado. It’s lifecycle is compound of two stages. First it allows the core/plugins to inject default values, then it is parsed and only allows querying for values, number of variants and such.

Example workflow of avocado run passtest.py -m example.yaml is:

avocado run passtest.py -m example.yaml
  + parser.finish -> Varianter.__init__  // dispatcher initializes all plugins
  + $PLUGIN -> args.default_avocado_params.add_default_param  // could be used to insert default values
  + job.run_tests -> Varianter.is_parsed
  + job.run_tests -> Varianter.parse
  |                     // processes default params
  |                     // initializes the plugins
  |                     // updates the default values
  + job._log_variants -> Varianter.to_str  // prints the human readable representation to log
  + runner.run_suite -> Varianter.get_number_of_tests
  + runner._iter_variants -> Varianter.itertests  // Yields variants

In order to allow force-updating the Varianter it supports ignore_new_data, which can be used to ignore new data. This is used by Job Replay to replace the current run Varianter with the one loaded from the replayed job. The workflow with ignore_new_data could look like this:

avocado run --replay latest -m example.yaml
  + $PLUGIN -> args.default_avocado_params.add_default_param  // could be used to insert default values
  + replay.run -> Varianter.is_parsed
  + replay.run  // Varianter object is replaced with the replay job's one
  |             // Varianter.ignore_new_data is set
  + $PLUGIN -> args.default_avocado_params.add_default_param  // is ignored as new data are not accepted
  + job.run_tests -> Varianter.is_parsed
  + job._log_variants -> Varianter.to_str
  + runner.run_suite -> Varianter.get_number_of_tests
  + runner._iter_variants -> Varianter.itertests

The Varianter itself can only produce an empty variant with the Default params, but it invokes all Varianter plugins and if any of them reports variants it yields them instead of the default variant.

Default params

Unlike Test’s default params the Default params is a mechanism to specify default values in Varianter or Varianter plugins. Their purpose is usually to define values dependent on the system which should not affect the test’s results. One example is a qemu binary location which might differ from one host to another host, but in the end they should result in qemu being executable in test. For this reason the Default params do not affects the test’s variant-id (at least not in the official Varianter plugins).

These params can be set from plugin/core by getting default_avocado_params from args and using:

default_avocado_params.add_default_parma(self, name, key, value, path=None)


  • name - name of the plugin which injects data (not yet used for anything, but we plan to allow white/black listing)
  • key - the parameter’s name
  • value - the parameter’s value
  • path - the location of this parameter. When the path does not exists yet, it’s created out of TreeNode.

Varianter plugins


A plugin interface that can be used to build custom plugins which are used by Varianter to get test variants. For inspiration see avocado.plugins.yaml_to_mux.YamlToMux which is in-core implementation of a multiplex varianter plugin and which is described in Yaml_to_mux plugin.



Multiplexer or simply Mux is an abstract concept, which was the basic idea behind the tree-like params structure with the support to produce all possible variants. There is a core implementation of basic building blocks that can be used when creating a custom plugin. There is a demonstration version of plugin using this concept in avocado.plugins.yaml_to_mux which adds a parser and then uses this multiplexer concept to define an avocado plugin to produce variants from yaml (or json) files.

Multiplexer concept

As mentioned earlier, this is an in-core implementation of building blocks intended for writing Varianter plugins based on a tree with Multiplex domains defined. The available blocks are:

  • MuxTree - Object which represents a part of the tree and handles the multiplexation, which means producing all possible variants from a tree-like object.
  • MuxPlugin - Base class to build Varianter plugins
  • MuxTreeNode - Inherits from TreeNode and adds the support for control flags (MuxTreeNode.ctrl) and multiplex domains (MuxTreeNode.multiplex).

And some support classes and methods eg. for filtering and so on.

Multiplex domains

A default AvocadoParams tree with variables could look like this:

Multiplex tree representation:
 ┣━━ paths
 ┃     → tmp: /var/tmp
 ┃     → qemu: /usr/libexec/qemu-kvm
 ┗━━ environ
     → debug: False

The multiplexer wants to produce similar structure, but also to be able to define not just one variant, but to define all possible combinations and then report the slices as variants. We use the term Multiplex domains to define that children of this node are not just different paths, but they are different values and we only want one at a time. In the representation we use double-line to visibily distinguish between normal relation and multiplexed relation. Let’s modify our example a bit:

Multiplex tree representation:
 ┣━━ paths
 ┃     → tmp: /var/tmp
 ┃     → qemu: /usr/libexec/qemu-kvm
 ┗━━ environ
      ╠══ production
      ║     → debug: False
      ╚══ debug
            → debug: True

The difference is that environ is now a multiplex node and it’s children will be yielded one at a time producing two variants:

Variant 1:
 ┣━━ paths
 ┃     → tmp: /var/tmp
 ┃     → qemu: /usr/libexec/qemu-kvm
 ┗━━ environ
      ┗━━ production
            → debug: False
Variant 2:
 ┣━━ paths
 ┃     → tmp: /var/tmp
 ┃     → qemu: /usr/libexec/qemu-kvm
 ┗━━ environ
      ┗━━ debug
            → debug: False

Note that the multiplex is only about direct children, therefore the number of leaves in variants might differ:

Multiplex tree representation:
 ┣━━ paths
 ┃     → tmp: /var/tmp
 ┃     → qemu: /usr/libexec/qemu-kvm
 ┗━━ environ
      ╠══ production
      ║     → debug: False
      ╚══ debug
           ┣━━ system
           ┃     → debug: False
           ┗━━ program
                 → debug: True

Produces one variant with /paths and /environ/production and other variant with /paths, /environ/debug/system and /environ/debug/program.

As mentioned earlier the power is not in producing one variant, but in defining huge scenarios with all possible variants. By using tree-structure with multiplex domains you can avoid most of the ugly filters you might know from Jenkin’s sparse matrix jobs. For comparison let’s have a look at the same example in avocado:

Multiplex tree representation:
 ┗━━ os
      ┣━━ distro
      ┃    ┗━━ redhat
      ┃         ╠══ fedora
      ┃         ║    ┣━━ version
      ┃         ║    ┃    ╠══ 20
      ┃         ║    ┃    ╚══ 21
      ┃         ║    ┗━━ flavor
      ┃         ║         ╠══ workstation
      ┃         ║         ╚══ cloud
      ┃         ╚══ rhel
      ┃              ╠══ 5
      ┃              ╚══ 6
      ┗━━ arch
           ╠══ i386
           ╚══ x86_64

Which produces:

Variant 1:    /os/distro/redhat/fedora/version/20, /os/distro/redhat/fedora/flavor/workstation, /os/arch/i386
Variant 2:    /os/distro/redhat/fedora/version/20, /os/distro/redhat/fedora/flavor/workstation, /os/arch/x86_64
Variant 3:    /os/distro/redhat/fedora/version/20, /os/distro/redhat/fedora/flavor/cloud, /os/arch/i386
Variant 4:    /os/distro/redhat/fedora/version/20, /os/distro/redhat/fedora/flavor/cloud, /os/arch/x86_64
Variant 5:    /os/distro/redhat/fedora/version/21, /os/distro/redhat/fedora/flavor/workstation, /os/arch/i386
Variant 6:    /os/distro/redhat/fedora/version/21, /os/distro/redhat/fedora/flavor/workstation, /os/arch/x86_64
Variant 7:    /os/distro/redhat/fedora/version/21, /os/distro/redhat/fedora/flavor/cloud, /os/arch/i386
Variant 8:    /os/distro/redhat/fedora/version/21, /os/distro/redhat/fedora/flavor/cloud, /os/arch/x86_64
Variant 9:    /os/distro/redhat/rhel/5, /os/arch/i386
Variant 10:    /os/distro/redhat/rhel/5, /os/arch/x86_64
Variant 11:    /os/distro/redhat/rhel/6, /os/arch/i386
Variant 12:    /os/distro/redhat/rhel/6, /os/arch/x86_64

Versus Jenkin’s sparse matrix:

os_version = fedora20 fedora21 rhel5 rhel6
os_flavor = none workstation cloud
arch = i386 x86_64

filter = ((os_version == "rhel5").implies(os_flavor == "none") &&
          (os_version == "rhel6").implies(os_flavor == "none")) &&
         !(os_version == "fedora20" && os_flavor == "none") &&
         !(os_version == "fedora21" && os_flavor == "none")

Which is still relatively simple example, but it grows dramatically with inner-dependencies.



Defines the full interface required by avocado.core.plugin_interfaces.Varianter. The plugin writer should inherit from this MuxPlugin, then from the Varianter and call the:

self.initialize_mux(root, mux_path, debug)


  • root - is the root of your params tree (compound of TreeNode -like nodes)
  • mux_path - is the Mux path to be used in test with all variants
  • debug - whether to use debug mode (requires the passed tree to be compound of TreeNodeDebug-like nodes which stores the origin of the variant/value/environment as the value for listing purposes and is __NOT__ intended for test execution.

This method must be called before the Varianter‘s second stage (the latest opportunity is during self.update_defaults). The MuxPlugin‘s code will take care of the rest.


This is the core feature where the hard work happens. It walks the tree and remembers all leaf nodes or uses list of MuxTrees when another multiplex domain is reached while searching for a leaf.

When it’s asked to report variants, it combines one variant of each remembered item (leaf node always stays the same, but MuxTree circles through it’s values) which recursively produces all possible variants of different multiplex domains.

Yaml_to_mux plugin


So far everything was a bit theoretical, let’s use examples to describe how the multiplexation works on a avocado.plugins.yaml_to_mux plugin. This plugin inherits from the avocado.core.mux.MuxPlugin and the only thing it implements is the argument parsing to get some input and a custom yaml parser (which is also capable of parsing json).

The yaml file is perfect for this task as it’s easily read by both, humans and machines. Let’s start with an example (line numbers at the first columns are for documentation purposes only, they are not part of the multiplex file format):

 1  hw:
 2      cpu: !mux
 3          intel:
 4              cpu_CFLAGS: '-march=core2'
 5          amd:
 6              cpu_CFLAGS: '-march=athlon64'
 7          arm:
 8              cpu_CFLAGS: '-mabi=apcs-gnu -march=armv8-a -mtune=arm8'
 9      disk: !mux
10          scsi:
11              disk_type: 'scsi'
12          virtio:
13              disk_type: 'virtio'
14  distro: !mux
15      fedora:
16          init: 'systemd'
17      mint:
18          init: 'systemv'
19  env: !mux
20      debug:
21          opt_CFLAGS: '-O0 -g'
22      prod:
23          opt_CFLAGS: '-O2'


On some architectures misbehaving versions of CYaml Python library were reported and Avocado always fails with unacceptable character #x0000: control characters are not allowed. To workaround this issue you need to either update the PyYaml to the version which works properly, or you need to remove the python2.7/site-packages/yaml/cyaml.py or disable CYaml import in Avocado sources. For details check out the Github issue

There are couple of key=>value pairs (lines 4,6,8,11,13,...) and there are named nodes which define scope (lines 1,2,3,5,7,9,...). There are also additional flags (lines 2, 9, 14, 19) which modifies the behavior.


They define context of the key=>value pairs allowing us to easily identify for what this values might be used for and also it makes possible to define multiple values of the same keys with different scope.

Due to their purpose the YAML automatic type conversion for nodes names is disabled, so the value of node name is always as written in the yaml file (unlike values, where yes converts to True and such).

Nodes are organized in parent-child relationship and together they create a tree. To view this structure use avocado variants --tree -m <file>:

┗━━ run
     ┣━━ hw
     ┃    ┣━━ cpu
     ┃    ┃    ╠══ intel
     ┃    ┃    ╠══ amd
     ┃    ┃    ╚══ arm
     ┃    ┗━━ disk
     ┃         ╠══ scsi
     ┃         ╚══ virtio
     ┣━━ distro
     ┃    ╠══ fedora
     ┃    ╚══ mint
     ┗━━ env
          ╠══ debug
          ╚══ prod

You can see that hw has 2 children cpu and disk. All parameters defined in parent node are inherited to children and extended/overwritten by their values up to the leaf nodes. The leaf nodes (intel, amd, arm, scsi, ...) are the most important as after multiplexation they form the parameters available in tests.

Keys and Values

Every value other than dict (4,6,8,11) is used as value of the antecedent node.

Each node can define key/value pairs (lines 4,6,8,11,...). Additionally each children node inherits values of it’s parent and the result is called node environment.

Given the node structure bellow:

    compiler: 'cc'
        - '-O2'
    debug: '-g'
        compiler: 'gcc'
            - '-Wall'
        compiler: 'clang'
            - '-arch i386'
            - '-arch x86_64'

And the rules defined as:

  • Scalar values (Booleans, Numbers and Strings) are overwritten by walking from the root until the final node.
  • Lists are appended (to the tail) whenever we walk from the root to the final node.

The environment created for the nodes fedora and osx are:

  • Node //devtools/fedora environment compiler: 'gcc', flags: ['-O2', '-Wall']
  • Node //devtools/osx environment compiler: 'clang', flags: ['-O2', '-arch i386', '-arch x86_64']

Note that due to different usage of key and values in environment we disabled the automatic value conversion for keys while keeping it enabled for values. This means that the value can be of any YAML supported value, eg. bool, None, list or custom type, while the key is always string.


In the end all leaves are gathered and turned into parameters, more specifically into AvocadoParams:

        user: "guest"
        password: "pass"
        user: "root"
        password: "123456"

produces [graphic, text]. In the test code you’ll be able to query only those leaves. Intermediary or root nodes are available.

The example above generates a single test execution with parameters separated by path. But the most powerful multiplexer feature is that it can generate multiple variants. To do that you need to tag a node whose children are ment to be multiplexed. Effectively it returns only leaves of one child at the time.In order to generate all possible variants multiplexer creates cartesian product of all of these variants:

cpu: !mux
fmt: !mux

Produces 6 variants:

/cpu/intel, /fmt/qcow2
/cpu/intel, /fmt/raw
/cpu/arm, /fmt/raw

The !mux evaluation is recursive so one variant can expand to multiple ones:

fmt: !mux
    qcow: !mux

Results in:


Resolution order

You can see that only leaves are part of the test parameters. It might happen that some of these leaves contain different values of the same key. Then you need to make sure your queries separate them by different paths. When the path matches multiple results with different origin, an exception is raised as it’s impossible to guess which key was originally intended.

To avoid these problems it’s recommended to use unique names in test parameters if possible, to avoid the mentioned clashes. It also makes it easier to extend or mix multiple YAML files for a test.

For multiplex YAML files that are part of a framework, contain default configurations, or serve as plugin configurations and other advanced setups it is possible and commonly desirable to use non-unique names. But always keep those points in mind and provide sensible paths.

Multiplexer also supports default paths. By default it’s /run/* but it can be overridden by --mux-path, which accepts multiple arguments. What it does it splits leaves by the provided paths. Each query goes one by one through those sub-trees and first one to hit the match returns the result. It might not solve all problems, but it can help to combine existing YAML files with your ones:

qa:         # large and complex read-only file, content injected into /qa
        timeout: 10
my_variants: !mux        # your YAML file injected into /my_variants
        timeout: 1
        timeout: 1000

You want to use an existing test which uses params.get('timeout', '*'). Then you can use --mux-path '/my_variants/*' '/qa/*' and it’ll first look in your variants. If no matches are found, then it would proceed to /qa/*

Keep in mind that only slices defined in mux-path are taken into account for relative paths (the ones starting with *)

Injecting files

You can run any test with any YAML file by:

avocado run sleeptest.py --mux-yaml file.yaml

This puts the content of file.yaml into /run location, which as mentioned in previous section, is the default mux-path path. For most simple cases this is the expected behavior as your files are available in the default path and you can safely use params.get(key).

When you need to put a file into a different location, for example when you have two files and you don’t want the content to be merged into a single place becoming effectively a single blob, you can do that by giving a name to your yaml file:

avocado run sleeptest.py --mux-yaml duration:duration.yaml

The content of duration.yaml is injected into /run/duration. Still when keys from other files don’t clash, you can use params.get(key) and retrieve from this location as it’s in the default path, only extended by the duration intermediary node. Another benefit is you can merge or separate multiple files by using the same or different name, or even a complex (relative) path.

Last but not least, advanced users can inject the file into whatever location they prefer by:

avocado run sleeptest.py --mux-yaml /my/variants/duration:duration.yaml

Simple params.get(key) won’t look in this location, which might be the intention of the test writer. There are several ways to access the values:

  • absolute location params.get(key, '/my/variants/duration')
  • absolute location with wildcards params.get(key, '/my/*) (or /*/duration/*...)
  • set the mux-path avocado run ... --mux-path /my/* and use relative path

It’s recommended to use the simple injection for single YAML files, relative injection for multiple simple YAML files and the last option is for very advanced setups when you either can’t modify the YAML files and you need to specify custom resolution order or you are specifying non-test parameters, for example parameters for your plugin, which you need to separate from the test parameters.

Multiple files

You can provide multiple files. In such scenario final tree is a combination of the provided files where later nodes with the same name override values of the preceding corresponding node. New nodes are appended as new children:

        CFLAGS: '-O0 -g'
        CFLAGS: '-O2'

        CFLAGS: '-Os'
        CFLAGS: '-Ofast'

results in:

    CFLAGS: '-O0 -g'
    CFLAGS: '-Os'       # overriden
    CFLAGS: '-Ofast'    # appended

It’s also possible to include existing file into another a given node in another file. This is done by the !include : $path directive:

        !include : fedora.yaml
        !include : gentoo.yaml


Due to YAML nature, it’s mandatory to put space between !include and the colon (:) that must follow it.

The file location can be either absolute path or relative path to the YAML file where the !include is called (even when it’s nested).

Whole file is merged into the node where it’s defined.

Advanced YAML tags

There are additional features related to YAML files. Most of them require values separated by ":". Again, in all such cases it’s mandatory to add a white space (" ") between the tag and the ":", otherwise ":" is part of the tag name and the parsing fails.


Includes other file and injects it into the node it’s specified in:

    !include : other.yaml

The content of /my_other_file would be parsed from the other.yaml. It’s the hardcoded equivalent of the -m $using:$path.

Relative paths start from the original file’s directory.


Prepends path to the node it’s defined in:

!using : /foo
    !using : baz

bar is put into baz becoming /baz/bar and everything is put into /foo. So the final path of bar is /foo/baz/bar.


Removes node if it existed during the merge. It can be used to extend incompatible YAML files:

    !remove_node : windows

Removes the windows node from structure. It’s different from filter-out as it really removes the node (and all children) from the tree and it can be replaced by you new structure as shown in the example. It removes windows with all children and then replaces this structure with slightly modified version.

As !remove_node is processed during merge, when you reverse the order, windows is not removed and you end-up with /windows/{win3.11,win95,3.11,95} nodes.


It’s similar to !remove_node only with values.


Children of this node will be multiplexed. This means that in first variant it’ll return leaves of the first child, in second the leaves of the second child, etc. Example is in section Variants


Defines internal filters. They are inherited by children and evaluated during multiplexation. It allows one to specify the only compatible branch of the tree with the current variant, for example:

        !filter-only : /disk/virtio

will skip the [arm, scsi] variant and result only in [arm, virtio]

_Note: It’s possible to use !filter-only multiple times with the same parent and all allowed variants will be included (unless they are filtered-out by !filter-out)_

_Note2: The evaluation order is 1. filter-out, 2. filter-only. This means when you booth filter-out and filter-only a branch it won’t take part in the multiplexed variants._


Similarly to !filter-only only it skips the specified branches and leaves the remaining ones. (in the same example the use of !filter-out : /disk/scsi results in the same behavior). The difference is when a new disk type is introduced, !filter-only still allows just the specified variants, while !filter-out only removes the specified ones.

As for the speed optimization, currently Avocado is strongly optimized towards fast !filter-out so it’s highly recommended using them rather than !filter-only, which takes significantly longer to process.

Complete example

Let’s take a second look at the first example:

 1    hw:
 2        cpu: !mux
 3            intel:
 4                cpu_CFLAGS: '-march=core2'
 5            amd:
 6                cpu_CFLAGS: '-march=athlon64'
 7            arm:
 8                cpu_CFLAGS: '-mabi=apcs-gnu -march=armv8-a -mtune=arm8'
 9        disk: !mux
10            scsi:
11                disk_type: 'scsi'
12            virtio:
13                disk_type: 'virtio'
14    distro: !mux
15        fedora:
16            init: 'systemd'
17        mint:
18            init: 'systemv'
19    env: !mux
20        debug:
21            opt_CFLAGS: '-O0 -g'
22        prod:
23            opt_CFLAGS: '-O2'

After filters are applied (simply removes non-matching variants), leaves are gathered and all variants are generated:

$ avocado variants -m examples/mux-environment.yaml
Variants generated:
Variant 1:    /hw/cpu/intel, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/fedora, /env/debug
Variant 2:    /hw/cpu/intel, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/fedora, /env/prod
Variant 3:    /hw/cpu/intel, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/mint, /env/debug
Variant 4:    /hw/cpu/intel, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/mint, /env/prod
Variant 5:    /hw/cpu/intel, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/fedora, /env/debug
Variant 6:    /hw/cpu/intel, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/fedora, /env/prod
Variant 7:    /hw/cpu/intel, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/mint, /env/debug
Variant 8:    /hw/cpu/intel, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/mint, /env/prod
Variant 9:    /hw/cpu/amd, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/fedora, /env/debug
Variant 10:    /hw/cpu/amd, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/fedora, /env/prod
Variant 11:    /hw/cpu/amd, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/mint, /env/debug
Variant 12:    /hw/cpu/amd, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/mint, /env/prod
Variant 13:    /hw/cpu/amd, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/fedora, /env/debug
Variant 14:    /hw/cpu/amd, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/fedora, /env/prod
Variant 15:    /hw/cpu/amd, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/mint, /env/debug
Variant 16:    /hw/cpu/amd, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/mint, /env/prod
Variant 17:    /hw/cpu/arm, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/fedora, /env/debug
Variant 18:    /hw/cpu/arm, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/fedora, /env/prod
Variant 19:    /hw/cpu/arm, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/mint, /env/debug
Variant 20:    /hw/cpu/arm, /hw/disk/scsi, /distro/mint, /env/prod
Variant 21:    /hw/cpu/arm, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/fedora, /env/debug
Variant 22:    /hw/cpu/arm, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/fedora, /env/prod
Variant 23:    /hw/cpu/arm, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/mint, /env/debug
Variant 24:    /hw/cpu/arm, /hw/disk/virtio, /distro/mint, /env/prod

Where the first variant contains:

/hw/cpu/intel/  => cpu_CFLAGS: -march=core2
/hw/disk/       => disk_type: scsi
/distro/fedora/ => init: systemd
/env/debug/     => opt_CFLAGS: -O0 -g

The second one:

/hw/cpu/intel/  => cpu_CFLAGS: -march=core2
/hw/disk/       => disk_type: scsi
/distro/fedora/ => init: systemd
/env/prod/      => opt_CFLAGS: -O2

From this example you can see that querying for /env/debug works only in the first variant, but returns nothing in the second variant. Keep this in mind and when you use the !mux flag always query for the pre-mux path, /env/* in this example.