Please, keep in mind that we are doing a significant refactoring on settings to have consistency when using Avocado. Some options are changing soon.

Avocado utilities have a certain default behavior based on educated, reasonable (we hope) guesses about how users like to use their systems. Of course, different people will have different needs and/or dislike our defaults, and that’s why a configuration system is in place to help with those cases

The Avocado config file format is based on the (informal) INI file specification, that is implemented by Python’s configparser. The format is simple and straightforward, composed by sections, that contain a number of keys and values. Take for example a basic Avocado config file:

base_dir = /var/lib/avocado
test_dir = /usr/share/doc/avocado/tests
data_dir = /var/lib/avocado/data
logs_dir = ~/avocado/job-results

The datadir.paths section contains a number of keys, all of them related to directories used by the test runner. The base_dir is the base directory to other important Avocado directories, such as log, data and test directories. You can also choose to set those other important directories by means of the variables test_dir, data_dir and logs_dir. You can do this by simply editing the config files available.

Config file parsing order

Avocado starts by parsing what it calls system wide config file, that is shipped to all Avocado users on a system wide directory, /etc/avocado/avocado.conf (when installed by your Linux distribution’s package manager).

There is another directory that will be scanned by extra config files, /etc/avocado/conf.d. This directory may contain plugin config files, and extra additional config files that the system administrator/avocado developers might judge necessary to put there.

Then it’ll verify if there’s a local user config file, that is located usually in ~/.config/avocado/avocado.conf. The order of the parsing matters, so the system wide file is parsed, then the user config file is parsed last, so that the user can override values at will.

The order of files described in this section is only valid if Avocado was installed in the system. For people using Avocado from git repos (usually Avocado developers), that did not install it in the system, keep in mind that Avocado will read the config files present in the git repos, and will ignore the system wide config files. Running avocado config will let you know which files are actually being used.

Configuring via command-line

Besides the configuration files, the most used features can also be configured by command-line arguments. For instance, regardless what you have on your configuration files, you can disable sysinfo logging by running:

$ avocado run --disable-sysinfo /bin/true

So, command-line options always will have the highest precedence during the configuration parsing. Use this if you would like to change some behavior on just one or a few specific executions.

Parsing order recap

So the file parsing order is:

  • /etc/avocado/avocado.conf

  • /etc/avocado/conf.d/*.conf

  • avocado.plugins.settings plugins (but they can insert to any location)

  • ~/.config/avocado/avocado.conf

You can see the actual set of files/location by using avocado config which uses * to mark existing and used files:

$ avocado config
Config files read (in order, '*' means the file exists and had been read):
 * /etc/avocado/avocado.conf
 * /etc/avocado/conf.d/resultsdb.conf
 * /etc/avocado/conf.d/result_upload.conf
 * /etc/avocado/conf.d/jobscripts.conf
 * /etc/avocado/conf.d/gdb.conf
 * /etc/avocado_vt/conf.d/vt.conf
 * /etc/avocado_vt/conf.d/vt_joblock.conf

 Section.Key                              Value
 datadir.paths.base_dir                   /var/lib/avocado
 datadir.paths.test_dir                   /usr/share/doc/avocado/tests

Where the lower config files override values of the upper files and the $HOME/.config/avocado/avocado.conf file missing.


Please note that if Avocado is running from git repos, those files will be ignored in favor of in tree configuration files. This is something that would normally only affect people developing avocado, and if you are in doubt, avocado config will tell you exactly which files are being used in any given situation.


When Avocado runs inside virtualenv than path for global config files is also changed. For example, avocado.conf comes from the virual-env path venv/etc/avocado/avocado.conf.

Order of precedence for values used in tests

Since you can use the config system to alter behavior and values used in tests (think paths to test programs, for example), we established the following order of precedence for variables (from least precedence to most):

  • default value (from library or test code)

  • global config file

  • local (user) config file

  • command line switch

  • test parameters

So the least important value comes from the library or test code default, going all the way up to the test parameters system.

Supported data types when configuring Avocado

As already said before, Avocado allows users to use both: configuration files and command-line options to configure its behavior. It is important to have a very well defined system type for the configuration file and argument options.

Although config files options and command-line arguments are always considered strings, you should give a proper format representation so those values can be parsed into a proper type internally on Avocado.

Currently Avocado supports the following data types for the configuration options: string, integer, float, bool and list. Besides those primitive data types Avocado also supports custom data types that can be used by a particular plugin.

Below, you will find information on how to set options based on those basic data types using both: configuration files and command-line arguments.


Strings are the basic ones and the syntax is the same in both configuration files and command-line arguments: Just the string that can be inside "" or ''.

Example using the configuration file:

bar = 'hello world'

String and all following types could be used with or without quotes but using quotes for strings is important on the command line to safely handle empty spaces and distinguish it from a list type. Therefore, the following example will also be well handled:

bar = hello world

Example using the command-line:

$ avocado run --foo bar /bin/true


Integer numbers are as simple as strings.

Example using the configuration file:

job_timeout = 60

Example using the command-line:

$ avocado run --job-timeout 50 /bin/true


Float numbers has the same representation as integers, but you should use . (dot) to separate the decimals. i.e: 80.3.


When talking about configuration files, accepted values for a boolean option are ‘1’, ‘yes’, ‘true’, and ‘on’, which cause this method to return True, and ‘0’, ‘no’, ‘false’, and ‘off’, which cause it to return False. But, when talking about command-line, booleans options don’t need any argument, the option itself will enable or disable the settings, depending on the context.

Example using the configuration file:

verbose = true

Example using the command-line:

$ avocado run --verbose /bin/true


Lists are peculiar when configuring. On configuration files you can use the default “python” syntax for lists: ["foo", "bar"], but when using the command-line arguments lists are strings separated by spaces:

Example using the configuration file:

references = ["", ""]

Example using the command-line:

$ avocado assets fetch

Complete Configuration Reference

For a complete configuration reference, please visit Avocado’s Configuration Reference.

Or you can see in your terminal, typing:

$ avocado config reference