Avocado Hello World

You should first experience Avocado by using the test runner, that is, the command line tool that will conveniently run your tests and collect their results.

To do so, please run avocado with the run sub-command followed by a test reference, which could be either a path to the file, or a recognizable name:

$ avocado run /bin/true
JOB ID     : 3a5c4c51ceb5369f23702efb10b4209b111141b2
JOB LOG    : $HOME/avocado/job-results/job-2019-10-31T10.34-3a5c4c5/job.log
 (1/1) /bin/true: PASS (0.04 s)
JOB TIME   : 0.15 s

You probably noticed that we used /bin/true as a test, and in accordance with our expectations, it passed! These are known as simple tests, but there is also another type of test, which we call instrumented tests. See more at test-types or just keep reading.

Running a job with multiple tests

You can run any number of test in an arbitrary order, as well as mix and match instrumented and simple tests:

$ avocado run /tmp/
JOB ID    : 86911e49b5f2c36caeea41307cee4fecdcdfa121
JOB LOG   : $HOME/avocado/job-results/job-2014-08-12T15.42-86911e49/job.log
 (1/6) FAIL (0.00 s)
 (2/6) PASS (1.00 s)
 (3/6) PASS (2.43 s)
 (4/6) FAIL (0.00 s)
 (5/6) PASS (2.44 s)
 (6/6) /tmp/ PASS (0.02 s)
JOB TIME   : 5.98 s


Although in most cases running avocado run $test1 $test3 ... is fine, it can lead to argument vs. test name clashes. The safest way to execute tests is avocado run --$argument1 --$argument2 -- $test1 $test2. Everything after -- will be considered positional arguments, therefore test names (in case of avocado run)

Using a different runner

Currently Avocado has two test runners: nrunner (the new runner) and runner (legacy). You can find a list of current runners installed with the avocado plugins command:

$ avocado plugins
Plugins that run test suites on a job (runners):
nrunner nrunner based implementation of job compliant runner
runner  The conventional test runner

During the test execution, you can select the runner using the option --test-runner, where the default is the legacy one:

$ avocado run --test-runner='nrunner' /bin/true

Interrupting tests

Sending Signals

To interrupt a job execution a user can press ctrl+c which after a single press sends SIGTERM to the main test’s process and waits for it to finish. If this does not help user can press ctrl+c again (after 2s grace period) which destroys the test’s process ungracefully and safely finishes the job execution always providing the test results.

To pause the test execution a user can use ctrl+z which sends SIGSTOP to all processes inherited from the test’s PID. We do our best to stop all processes, but the operation is not atomic and some new processes might not be stopped. Another ctrl+z sends SIGCONT to all processes inherited by the test’s PID resuming the execution. Note the test execution time (concerning the test timeout) are still running while the test’s process is stopped.

Interrupting the job on first fail (failfast)

The Avocado run command has the option --failfast to exit the job on first failed test:

$ avocado run --failfast /bin/true /bin/false /bin/true /bin/true
JOB ID     : eaf51b8c7d6be966bdf5562c9611b1ec2db3f68a
JOB LOG    : $HOME/avocado/job-results/job-2016-07-19T09.43-eaf51b8/job.log
 (1/4) /bin/true: PASS (0.01 s)
 (2/4) /bin/false: FAIL (0.01 s)
Interrupting job (failfast).
JOB TIME   : 0.12 s

The default behavior, that is, when --failfast is not set, is to try to execute all tests in a job, regardless individual of test failures.


Avocado versions 80.0 and earlier allowed replayed jobs to override the failfast configuration by setting --failfast=off in a avocado replay .. command line. This is no longer possible.

The hint files

Avocado team has added support to the “hint files”. This feature is present since Avocado #78 and is a configuration file that you can add to your project root folder to help Avocado on the “test resolution” phase.

The idea is that, you know more about your tests than anybody else. And you can specify where your tests are, and what type (kind) they are. You just have to add a .avocado.hint in your root folder with the section [kinds] and one section for each kind that you are using.

On the specific test type section, you can specify 3 options: uri, args and kwargs.


Some test types will convert kwargs into variable environments. Please check the documentation of the test type that you are using.

You can also use the keyword $testpath in any of the options inside the test type section. Avocado will replace $testpath with your test path, after the expansion.

For instance, below you will find a hint file example where we have only one test type TAP:

tap = ./tests/unit/*.sh

uri = $testpath
args = --tap
kwargs = DEBUG=1

Let’s suppose that you have 2 tests that matches ./tests/unit/*.sh:

  • ./tests/unit/
  • ./tests/unit/

Avocado will run each one as a TAP test, as you desired.


Please, keep in mind that hint files needs absolute paths when defining tests inside the [kinds] section.


Also, note that hint files are only supported when using the next runner (--test-runner='nrunner').

Since Avocado’s next runner is capable of running tests not only in a subprocess but also in more isolated environments such as Podman containers, sending custom environment variables to the task executor can be achieved by using the kwargs parameter. Use a comma-separated list of variables here and Avocado will make sure your tests will receive those variables (regardless of the spawner type).

Ignoring missing test references

When you provide a list of test references, Avocado will try to resolve all of them to tests. If one or more test references can not be resolved to tests, the Job will not be created. Example:

$ avocado run
Unable to resolve reference(s) '' with plugins(s) 'file', 'robot', 'external', try running 'avocado -V list' to see the details.

But if you want to execute the Job anyway, with the tests that could be resolved, you can use --ignore-missing-references, a boolean command-line option. The same message will appear in the UI, but the Job will be executed:

$ avocado run --ignore-missing-references
Unable to resolve reference(s) '' with plugins(s) 'file', 'robot', 'external', try running 'avocado list -V' to see the details.
JOB ID     : 85927c113074b9defd64ea595d6d1c3fdfc1f58f
JOB LOG    : $HOME/avocado/job-results/job-2017-05-17T10.54-85927c1/job.log
 (1/1) PASS (0.02 s)
JOB TIME   : 0.11 s
JOB HTML   : $HOME/avocado/job-results/job-2017-05-17T10.54-85927c1/html/results.html

Running tests with an external runner

It’s quite common to have organically grown test suites in most software projects. These usually include a custom built, very specific test runner that knows how to find and run their own tests.

Still, running those tests inside Avocado may be a good idea for various reasons, including being able to have results in different human and machine readable formats, collecting system information alongside those tests (the Avocado’s sysinfo functionality), and more.

Avocado makes that possible by means of its “external runner” feature. The most basic way of using it is:

$ avocado run --external-runner=/path/to/external_runner foo bar baz

In this example, Avocado will report individual test results for tests foo, bar and baz. The actual results will be based on the return code of individual executions of /path/to/external_runner foo, /path/to/external_runner bar and finally /path/to/external_runner baz.

As another way to explain and show how this feature works, think of the “external runner” as some kind of interpreter and the individual tests as anything that this interpreter recognizes and is able to execute. A UNIX shell, say /bin/sh could be considered an external runner, and files with shell code could be considered tests:

$ echo "exit 0" > /tmp/pass
$ echo "exit 1" > /tmp/fail
$ avocado run --external-runner=/bin/sh /tmp/pass /tmp/fail
JOB ID     : 4a2a1d259690cc7b226e33facdde4f628ab30741
JOB LOG    : /home/<user>/avocado/job-results/job-<date>-<shortid>/job.log
(1/2) /tmp/pass: PASS (0.01 s)
(2/2) /tmp/fail: FAIL (0.01 s)
JOB TIME   : 0.11 s
JOB HTML   : /home/<user>/avocado/job-results/job-<date>-<shortid>/html/results.html

This example is pretty obvious, and could be achieved by giving /tmp/pass and /tmp/fail shell “shebangs” (#!/bin/sh), making them executable (chmod +x /tmp/pass /tmp/fail), and running them as “SIMPLE” tests.

But now consider the following example:

$ avocado run --external-runner=/bin/curl
JOB ID     : 56016a1ffffaba02492fdbd5662ac0b958f51e11
JOB LOG    : /home/<user>/avocado/job-results/job-<date>-<shortid>/job.log
(1/1) PASS (0.02 s)
JOB TIME   : 3.14 s
JOB HTML   : /home/<user>/avocado/job-results/job-<date>-<shortid>/html/results.html

This effectively makes /bin/curl an “external test runner”, responsible for trying to fetch those URLs, and reporting PASS or FAIL for each of them.


The external runner is incompatible with loaders from Understanding the test discovery (Avocado Loaders). If you use external runner and loader together the job will use the external runner and ignore the loader.

Runner outputs

A test runner must provide an assortment of ways to clearly communicate results to interested parties, be them humans or machines.


There are several optional result plugins, you can find them in Result plugins.

Results for human beings

Avocado has two different result formats that are intended for human beings:

  • Its default UI, which shows the live test execution results on a command line, text based, UI.
  • The HTML report, which is generated after the test job finishes running.


The HTML report needs the html plugin enabled that is an optional plugin.

A regular run of Avocado will present the test results in a live fashion, that is, the job and its test(s) results are constantly updated:

$ avocado run
JOB ID    : 5ffe479262ea9025f2e4e84c4e92055b5c79bdc9
JOB LOG   : $HOME/avocado/job-results/job-2014-08-12T15.57-5ffe4792/job.log
 (1/3) PASS (1.01 s)
 (2/3) FAIL (0.00 s)
 (3/3) PASS (1.98 s)
JOB TIME   : 3.27 s
JOB HTML  : $HOME/avocado/job-results/job-2014-08-12T15.57-5ffe4792/html/results.html

The most important thing is to remember that programs should never need to parse human output to figure out what happened to a test job run.

As you can see, Avocado will print a nice UI with the job summary on the console. If you would like to inspect a detailed output of your tests, you can visit the folder: $HOME/avocado/job-results/latest/ or a specific job folder.

Results for machine

Another type of results are those intended to be parsed by other applications. Several standards exist in the test community, and Avocado can in theory support pretty much every result standard out there.

Out of the box, Avocado supports a couple of machine readable results. They are always generated and stored in the results directory in results.$type files, but you can ask for a different location too.

Currently, you can find three different formats available on this folder: xUnit (XML), JSON and TAP.

1. xUnit:

The default machine readable output in Avocado is xunit.

xUnit is an XML format that contains test results in a structured form, and are used by other test automation projects, such as jenkins. If you want to make Avocado to generate xunit output in the standard output of the runner, simply use:

$ avocado run --xunit -
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<testsuite name="avocado" tests="3" errors="0" failures="1" skipped="0" time="3.5769162178" timestamp="2016-05-04 14:46:52.803365">
        <testcase classname="SleepTest" name="" time="1.00204920769"/>
        <testcase classname="FailTest" name="" time="0.00120401382446">
                <failure type="TestFail" message="This test is supposed to fail"><![CDATA[Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "$HOME/Work/Projekty/avocado/avocado/avocado/core/", line 490, in _run_avocado
    raise test_exception
TestFail: This test is supposed to fail
                <system-out><![CDATA[14:46:53 ERROR|
14:46:53 ERROR| Reproduced traceback from: $HOME/Work/Projekty/avocado/avocado/avocado/core/
14:46:53 ERROR| Traceback (most recent call last):
14:46:53 ERROR|   File "$HOME/Work/Projekty/avocado/avocado/examples/tests/", line 17, in test
14:46:53 ERROR|'This test is supposed to fail')
14:46:53 ERROR|   File "$HOME/Work/Projekty/avocado/avocado/avocado/core/", line 585, in fail
14:46:53 ERROR|     raise exceptions.TestFail(message)
14:46:53 ERROR| TestFail: This test is supposed to fail
14:46:53 ERROR|
14:46:53 ERROR| FAIL -> TestFail: This test is supposed to fail
14:46:53 INFO |
        <testcase classname="SyncTest" name="" time="2.57366299629"/>


The dash - in the option --xunit, it means that the xunit result should go to the standard output.


In case your tests produce very long outputs, you can limit the number of embedded characters by --xunit-max-test-log-chars. If the output in the log file is longer it only attaches up-to max-test-log-chars characters one half starting from the beginning of the content, the other half from the end of the content.

2. JSON:

JSON is a widely used data exchange format. The JSON Avocado plugin outputs job information, similarly to the xunit output plugin:

$ avocado run --json -
    "cancel": 0,
    "debuglog": "/home/user/avocado/job-results/job-2016-08-09T13.53-10715c4/job.log",
    "errors": 0,
    "failures": 1,
    "job_id": "10715c4645d2d2b57889d7a4317fcd01451b600e",
    "pass": 2,
    "skip": 0,
    "tests": [
            "end": 1470761623.176954,
            "fail_reason": "None",
            "logdir": "/home/user/avocado/job-results/job-2016-08-09T13.53-10715c4/test-results/",
            "logfile": "/home/user/avocado/job-results/job-2016-08-09T13.53-10715c4/test-results/",
            "start": 1470761622.174918,
            "status": "PASS",
            "id": "",
            "time": 1.0020360946655273,
            "whiteboard": ""
            "end": 1470761623.193472,
            "fail_reason": "This test is supposed to fail",
            "logdir": "/home/user/avocado/job-results/job-2016-08-09T13.53-10715c4/test-results/",
            "logfile": "/home/user/avocado/job-results/job-2016-08-09T13.53-10715c4/test-results/",
            "start": 1470761623.192334,
            "status": "FAIL",
            "id": "",
            "time": 0.0011379718780517578,
            "whiteboard": ""
            "end": 1470761625.656061,
            "fail_reason": "None",
            "logdir": "/home/user/avocado/job-results/job-2016-08-09T13.53-10715c4/test-results/",
            "logfile": "/home/user/avocado/job-results/job-2016-08-09T13.53-10715c4/test-results/",
            "start": 1470761623.208165,
            "status": "PASS",
            "id": "",
            "time": 2.4478960037231445,
            "whiteboard": ""
    "time": 3.4510700702667236,
    "total": 3


The dash - in the option --json, it means that the xunit result should go to the standard output.

Bear in mind that there’s no documented standard for the Avocado JSON result format. This means that it will probably grow organically to accommodate newer Avocado features. A reasonable effort will be made to not break backwards compatibility with applications that parse the current form of its JSON result.

3. TAP:

Provides the basic TAP (Test Anything Protocol) results, currently in v12. Unlike most existing Avocado machine readable outputs this one is streamlined (per test results):

$ avocado run --tap -
# debug.log of
#   12:04:38 DEBUG| PARAMS (key=sleep_length, path=*, default=1) => 1
#   12:04:38 DEBUG| Sleeping for 1.00 seconds
#   12:04:39 INFO | PASS
#   12:04:39 INFO |
ok 1

Using the option –show

Probably, you frequently want to look straight at the job log, without switching screens or having to “tail” the job log.

In order to do that, you can use avocado --show=test run ...:

$ avocado --show=test run examples/tests/
Job ID: f9ea1742134e5352dec82335af584d1f151d4b85


PARAMS (key=timeout, path=*, default=None) => None
PARAMS (key=sleep_length, path=*, default=1) => 1
Sleeping for 1.00 seconds

Test results available in $HOME/avocado/job-results/job-2015-06-02T10.45-f9ea174

As you can see, the UI output is suppressed and only the job log is shown, making this a useful feature for test development and debugging.

It’s possible to silence all output to stdout (while keeping the error messages being printed to stderr). One can then use the return code to learn about the result:

$ avocado --show=none run
$ echo $?

In practice, this would usually be used by scripts that will in turn run Avocado and check its results:

$ avocado --show=none run /path/to/my/
if [ $? == 0 ]; then
   echo "great success!"

more details regarding exit codes in Exit Codes section.

Multiple results at once

You can have multiple results formats at once, as long as only one of them uses the standard output. For example, it is fine to use the xunit result on stdout and the JSON result to output to a file:

$ avocado run --xunit - --json /tmp/result.json
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<testsuite name="avocado" tests="2" errors="0" failures="0" skipped="0" time="3.64848303795" timestamp="2016-05-04 17:26:05.645665">
        <testcase classname="SleepTest" name="" time="1.00270605087"/>
        <testcase classname="SyncTest" name="" time="2.64577698708"/>

$ cat /tmp/result.json
     "debuglog": "/home/user/avocado/job-results/job-2016-08-09T13.55-1a94ad6/job.log",
     "errors": 0,

But you won’t be able to do the same without the --json flag passed to the program:

$ avocado run --xunit - --json -
avocado run: error: argument --json: Options --xunit --json are trying to
use stdout simultaneously. Please set at least one of them to a file to
avoid conflicts

That’s basically the only rule, and a sane one, that you need to follow.


Avocado support “paginator” option, which, on compatible terminals, basically pipes the colored output to less to simplify browsing of the produced output. You an enable it with --enable-paginator.

Running simple tests with arguments

This used to be supported out of the box by running avocado run "test arg1 arg2" but it was quite confusing and removed. It is still possible to achieve that by using shell and one can even combine normal tests and the parametrized ones:

$ avocado run --loaders file external:/bin/sh -- existing-file nonexisting-file

This will run 3 tests, the first one is a normal test defined by (most probably an instrumented test) and will be executed by the “file” loader. Then we have two script files which are going to be executed with /bin/sh.

Sysinfo collection

Avocado comes with a sysinfo plugin, which automatically gathers some system information per each job or even between tests. This is very useful when later we want to know what caused the test’s failure. This system is configurable but we provide a sane set of defaults for you.

In the default Avocado configuration (/etc/avocado/avocado.conf) there is a section sysinfo.collect where you can enable/disable the sysinfo collection as well as configure the basic environment. In sysinfo.collectibles section you can define basic paths of where to look for what commands/tasks should be performed before/during the sysinfo collection. Avocado supports three types of tasks:

  1. commands - file with new-line separated list of commands to be executed before and after the job/test (single execution commands). It is possible to set a timeout which is enforced per each executed command in [sysinfo.collect] by setting “commands_timeout” to a positive number. You can also use the environment variable AVOCADO_SYSINFODIR which points to the sysinfo directory in results.
  2. fail_commands - similar to commands, but gets executed only when the test fails.
  3. files - file with new-line separated list of files to be copied.
  4. fail_files - similar to files, but copied only when the test fails.
  5. profilers - file with new-line separated list of commands to be executed before the job/test and killed at the end of the job/test (follow-like commands).

Additionally this plugin tries to follow the system log via journalctl if available.

By default these are collected per-job but you can also run them per-test by setting per_test = True in the sysinfo.collect section.

The sysinfo is enabled by default and can also be disabled on the cmdline if needed by --disable-sysinfo.

After the job execution you can find the collected information in $RESULTS/sysinfo of $RESULTS/test-results/$TEST/sysinfo. They are categorized into pre, post and profile folders and the filenames are safely-escaped executed commands or file-names. You can also see the sysinfo in html results when you have html results plugin enabled.

It is also possible to save only the files / commands which were changed during the course of the test, in the post directory, using the setting optimize = True in the sysinfo.collect section. This collects all sysinfo on pre, but saves only changed ones on post. It is set to False by default.


If you are using Avocado from sources, you need to manually place the commands/fail_commands/fail_files/files/profilers into the /etc/avocado/sysinfo directories or adjust the paths in $AVOCADO_SRC/etc/avocado/avocado.conf.