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checkbox_ng - CheckboxNG Documentation

CheckboxNG is a hardware testing tool useful for certifying laptops, desktops and servers with Ubuntu. It is a new version of Checkbox <> that is built directly on top of PlainBox <>

CheckboxNG replaces Checkbox, where applicable.


Documentation is under development. Some things are wrong, inaccurate or describe development goals rather than current state.


CheckboxNG can be installed from a PPA (recommended) or pypi on Ubuntu Precise (12.04) or newer.

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:checkbox-dev/ppa && sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install checkbox-ng


CheckboxNG has special support for running stable release updates tests in an automated manner. This runs all the jobs from the sru.whitelist and sends the results to the certification website.

To run SRU tests you will need to know the so-called Secure ID <> of the device you are testing. Once you know that all you need to do is run:

$ checkbox sru $secure_id submission.xml

The second argument, submission.xml, is a name of the fallback file that is only created when sending the data to the certification website fails to work for any reason.


To report bugs on the Checkbox project you will need a launchpad account. You may find instructions on how to create one <> useful. Once you have an account you can report bugs <>.

On that page you can select the project you wish to file the bug on (we use a number of projects to coordinate releases and we prefer to have bugs associated with appropriate part of Checkbox). If you know the right project to use, just use it and file the bug. If you don't know Checkbox internals that much or are in doubt just file it on the base 'Checkbox' project (you can use this direct link <>.) A member of the development team will review your bug and re-assign it to the appropriate location. The bug number will not change when that happens.


The Checkbox Stack is a collection of projects that together constitute a complete testing and certification solution. It is composed of the following parts (see table below for extra details). All of the projects are linked to from the Launchpad project group <>.

Architecture Diagram

[image: Architecture Diagram] [image]

This diagram contains a high-level approximation of the current Checkbox architecture. There are three main "pillars". On the left we have end products. Those are actual tools that certification and engineers are using. On the right we have the test market. This is a open market of tests vendors and suppliers. The tests are wrapped in containers known as providers. In the center we have three shared components. Those implement the bulk of the framework and user interfaces for test execution. Finally in the bottom-left corner there is a part of checkbox (a library) that is shared with HEXR for certain tasks. HEXR is a out-of-scope web application used by part of the certification process. Arrows imply communication with the shape of the arrow shows who calls who.

As mentioned before, in the center column there are three main components of shared code (shared by everyone using the end products that are discussed below). The shared code is composed of plainbox, checkbox-ng and checkbox-gui. Component responsibilities are discussed in more detail in the table below. Here we can see that checkbox-gui used DBus API exposed by checkbox-ng, which in turn uses checkbox-support (a helper library separated out so share some code with HEXR) and plainbox.

In the right hand side column there are various test providers. The checkbox project is producing and maintaining a number of providers (see the table below) but it is expected that our downstream users will also produce their own providers (specific to a customer or project). Eventually some providers may come from third parties that will adopt the format.

Lastly in the bottom-left corner, the shared library, this library contains many parsers of various file formats and output formats. Technically this library is a dependency of HEXR, checkbox-ng and of providers. As an added complexity the library needs to be called from python3 code and python2 code.


The communication between checkbox-ng and plainbox is bi-directional. Plainbox offers some base interfaces and extension points. Those are all exposed through plainbox (using common APIs) but some of those are actually implemented in checkbox-ng.


All internal APIs are semi-unstable. The DBus API is more stable in practice but should not be relied upon. Projects are encouraged to be merged into lp:checkbox where API transitions can be handled gracefully. The only stable API is are file format specification (job definitions and whitelits). Launcher specification will be stabilized in the next release.

Component Descriptions

Project Responsible for Type
Next Generation Checkbox (GUI) 0.0 • 2 The C++/QML user interface • 2 The graphical launcher for providers, e.g. checkbox-certification-client 168u Application
Next Generation Checkbox (CLI) 0.0 • 2 The python command-line interface 2.0 • 2 the text user interface • 2 the SRU testing command 168u • 2 Additional certification APIs 2.0 • 2 sending data to Launchpad • 2 sending data to HEXR 168u • 2 the DBus service needed by GUI 168u Application
Client Certification Provider 0.0 • 2 canonical-certification-client executable • 2 client certification whitelists 168u Provider
Server Certification Provider 0.0 • 2 server certification whitelists • 2 additional server whitelists 168u Provider
System-on-Chip Server Certification Provider 0.0 • 2 SoC server certification whitelists 168u Provider
Checkbox Provider 0.0 • 2 Almost all job definitions • 2 Most of custom "scripts" • 2 Default and SRU whitelist 168u Provider
Resource Provider 0.0 • 2 Almost all resource jobs • 2 Almost all resource "scripts" 168u Provider
Checkbox Support 0.0 • 2 Support code for various providers • 2 Parsers for many text formats 168u Library
PlainBox 0.0 • 2 Almost all core logic 2.0 • 2 RFC822 (job definition) parser • 2 Configuration handling • 2 Testing session (suspend/resume) • 2 Job runner • 2 Trusted launcher • 2 Dependency resolver • 2 Command line handling • 2 The XML, HTML and XSLX exporters • 2 and more... 168u • 2 Provider development toolkit 2.0 • 2 'plainbox startprovider' • 2 '' implementation 168u 168u Library and Development Toolkit
Legacy Checkbox (no longer maintained) 0.0 • 2 Applications 2.0 • 2 Qt4 GUI • 2 Gtk2 GUI • 2 Urwid (text) GUI 168u • 2 Core 2.0 • 2 Plugin and Event / Message Engine • 2 Almost Every feature implemented a core plugin 168u • 2 Data 2.0 • 2 Jobs and whitelists 168u 168u Monolithic Application Library and Data


This changelog contains only a summary of changes. For a more accurate accounting of development history please inspect the source history directly.

CheckboxNG 0.23 (unreleased)

CheckboxNG 0.22

CheckboxNG 0.3

CheckboxNG 0.2

CheckboxNG 0.1

  • Initial release
  • Support for displaying configuration
  • Support for running SRU tests (automatic regression testing)


Test 'scripts' are small programs which are used to aid in implementing tests.


This script tests the brightness of the systems backlight can be changed by using the kernel interfaces in /sys/class/backlight. There may be more than one interface to choose from, so the correct interface to use is selected by using the heuristic prescribed in The brightness is manipulated by updating the brightness file of the interface and the actual_brightness file is checked to see if the value was modified to the brightness selected.


Execution profiles, or launchers, allow specifying a predefined set of configuration options that allow customization of the welcome screen, displayed whitelists as well as saving results locally or sending the submission file to Launchpad or to the Certification database/HEXR, as well as some other parameters.

The profile settings are part of a launcher script and use either checkbox-gui or checkbox-launcher (in text-mode/CLI) as a shebang to interpret the key/values.

This document provides a reference on launcher functionality and syntax. To understand the design and concepts and see several examples, you may want to read the tutorial on how to create launchers and their relationship with legacy Checkbox <>.


As checkbox-gui is a Qt application, settings must follow the INI-style rules of the QSettings <> class.

Multiple-line values are supported but must be enclosed in doubles quotes and extra lines must start with one space, e.g:

key = "Hello

From QML:


From C++:


Conversely, checkbox-launcher-specific launchers must follow Python ConfigParser <> syntax.

Also, some settings only make sense for either GUI or CLI, and are thus not understood by the other. These are noted below.

Supported Settings

QML application title and welcome screen header. Defaults to System Testing.
Welcome message to display on the first screen (checkbox-gui supports Rich text allowing HTML-style markup). Defaults to <p>Welcome to System Testing.</p> [...]
Regular expression to match a subset of whitelist filenames. On checkbox-gui it defaults to .*. For checkbox-launcher it has no default and must be defined.
Pattern that whitelists need to match to be preselected. Python regular expression. It has no default and must be defined. (CLI only)
If set to true, user will not receive a choice of whitelist. Only the preselected ones (see whitelist_selection) will be selected. (CLI only).
If set to true, user will not be allowed to deselect tests prior to run: all tests in the selected whitelist will be run. (CLI only)
Header text of the submission pop-up , shown to the user after submission has completed. (GUI only)
Show a Text input field to enter the secure ID or the LP address (default). To just save the results to disk, must use the none value. To validate using a regex, must be regex. (GUI only)
Regular expression to validate input in submission field (e.g. email, secure_id) if input_type is regex. (GUI only). RegExpValidator, default .*
Temporary text to put in input field, used to guide the user. Launchpad E-Mail Address (default) or Secure ID (15 or 18 characters). (GUI only)
Preconfigured secure_id to fill in the text field.
The label for the "Send" button. Submit Results (default) or Save Results. (GUI only)
Show to the user if he wants to exit without having saved the report. You are about to exit this test run without saving your results report. Do you want to save the report? (GUI only)
Boolean, add an extra header to also send the results to HEXR (works with the certification transport)
Location to save the XML submission file, if set to an empty string will open a file save dialog. Default: /tmp/submission.xml (GUI only)
Transport endpoint. Defaults to <none>. Supports submission to LP (the default, value launchpad), certification, or local (save to disk)
URL to submit results to. This allows to upload to different websites, for example it can upload directly to hexr, or to the staging sites. Used only with the certification submit_to value.
Name of a custom config file to load. Config files are mainly used to define environment variables. (CLI only)
If set, resources, local jobs and attachments will be output to screen, this generates a lot of text and is mainly for debugging. (CLI only)


This document provides an explanation of why launchers are necessary, what you can achieve with them, and goes over several examples to better describe their capabilities. For a detailed reference on which settings are supported by launchers, and specific syntax for launcher files, look at /profiles.

Legacy checkbox behavior control

In the past, Checkbox <>'s behavior was controlled by three mechanisms.

First, the functions of checkbox could be augmented by adding plugins. For example, the ability to submit to certification website was added by the checkbox-certification package using a plugin. The plugins included by checkbox-certification and which add new behavior to base checkbox were:


These added the way to prompt the user for submission-specific data, generate the xml report, and other functions.

Next, the behaviors of the plugins could be configured or controlled using configuration files, which are "cascaded". A config file can include others and those can in turn include others.

This is an example of a project-specific project-qt.ini main config file. It's the first file read when the project-specific client is launched. Some settings are abbreviated:

includes = %(checkbox_oem_share)s/configs/checkbox-project-base-qt.ini %(checkbox_project_share)s/configs/checkbox-project-base.ini
repositories = deb http://.*\(archive\|security\) precise-security
routers = multiple
server_iperf =
sources_list = /etc/apt/sources.list
wpa_n_psk = password
wpa_n_ssid = access-point
title = My project System Testing

Notice the includes line, this instructs it to load the config file for checkbox-project-base-qt and checkbox-project-base. Checkbox-project-base-qt loads the configs for checkbox-certification and checkbox-project. Settings are cascaded so the config options near the top override the ones near the bottom.

Finally, the "binary" used to invoke checkbox is a shell script that defines where to find the things checkbox needs to run: you can define a share directory, a specific data directory, point to a configuration file and define some environment variables that you may need during testing. Here's an example for checkbox-project-qt:

export CHECKBOX_DATA=${CHECKBOX_DATA:-~/.checkbox}
export CHECKBOX_SHARE=${CHECKBOX_SHARE:-/usr/share/checkbox}
export CHECKBOX_OPTIONS=${CHECKBOX_OPTIONS:---log-level=debug --log=$CHECKBOX_DATA/checkbox-project.log}
export CHECKBOX_OEM_SHARE=${CHECKBOX_PROJECT_BASE_SHARE:-/usr/share/checkbox-project-base}
export CHECKBOX_PROJECT_SHARE=${CHECKBOX_PROJECT_SHARE:-/usr/share/checkbox-project}
# Convenience for defining the PYTHONPATH directory.
if [ "$CHECKBOX_SHARE" != "/usr/share/checkbox" ]; then
python3 $CHECKBOX_SHARE/run "$@" $CHECKBOX_PROJECT_SHARE/configs/$(basename $0).ini

Here you can see that it defines some locations and an important part is the final python3 line, where it will locate and use the required .ini config file we saw earlier.

This hierarchical organization was very powerful but was also difficult to handle, and also had some limitations. Part of the work we did with checkbox was to integrate all the project-specific plugins into checkbox trunk, this way all the core code is in one place, and the project-specific variants only supply jobs, whitelists, data and configuration, without adding new behavior.

New plainbox behavior control

Unlike checkbox, plainbox's core is monolythic, and it has no concept of plugins. This makes it easier to understand and work with. The plainbox core has implementations for all the functions in the old checkbox packages, so no additions are necessary to use features such as submission to certification or report generation.

What we call plainbox is the library that implements all the functionality, as can be seen here.

Plainbox provides tools to help test developers write and package tests. These are delivered in "providers", which are entities designed to encapsulate test descriptions, custom scripts for testing, whitelists and assorted data. They were designed to allow teams to write and deliver their custom tests without worrying too much about the underlying plainbox code.

To get information on how to write tests and providers, see the Provider Tutorial <>

However, when actually using these tests to verify a real system, we wanted to provide something easier and closer to the user experience of checkbox. We created two clients, checkbox-gui and checkbox-cli, which had some hardcoded behaviors, and we also started creating other clients which were based on these but were purpose specific. For instance, we had a version of checkbox for SRU testing, another for server certification, and so on.

But then we realized that a lot of the code was duplicated and the behaviors were common except for a few changes. So we came up with the concept of "launchers", which are somewhat similar to checkbox's configuration files and shell script launchers.

The idea is that checkbox-gui and checkbox-cli have some very basic behaviors, since they are the clients that are shipped by default with ubuntu. They can show all the available whitelists, show a predefined welcome message, and at the end will let the user see the html report and submit it to launchpad using their e-mail address, similar to the version of checkbox that shipped with Ubuntu.

Instead of using complicated command line switches, launchers allow you to configure some optional behaviors to customize your testing experience. A launcher contains settings, and is similar to a shell script, but the interpreter will be either checkbox-gui or checkbox-launcher.

Here are a few examples of what can be done with launchers.

As a surprise, checkbox-cli is itself a launcher:

#!/usr/bin/env checkbox-launcher
text = Welcome to System Testing!
    Checkbox provides tests to confirm that your system is working properly.
    Once you are finished running the tests, you can view a summary report for
    your system.
    Warning: Some tests could cause your system to freeze or become
    unresponsive. Please save all your work and close all other running
    applications before beginning the testing process.
whitelist_filter = ^default$
whitelist_selection = ^default$
skip_whitelist_selection = True
submit_to = launchpad

You can see here we customize a few options: it shows a welcome message, automatically selects the default whitelist, and will submit to launchpad when it's finished.

A graphical launcher example is canonical-certification-client.

title = "System Certification"
text = "<p>Welcome to System Certification!</p><p></p><p>This application will
gather information from your system. Then you will be asked manual tests to
confirm that the system is working properly. Finally, you will be asked for
the Secure ID of the computer to submit the information to the certification
database.</p><p></p><p> To learn how to create or locate the Secure ID,
please see here: <a href=\"\"></a></p><p></p>"
whitelist_filter = "^client-(cert|selftest).*"
input_type = "regex"
input_placeholder = "Secure ID (15 or 18 characters)"
ok_btn_text = "Submit Results"
submit_to_hexr = "true"
xml_export_path = "/tmp/submission.xml"
submit_to = "certification"

Graphical launchers are a bit more complicated, but essentially it's similar, what it allows is for you to define some parameters to customize your testing experience.

A very simple text-mode launcher is canonical-hw-collection which just runs the basic hardware information tests and uploads them to a hardware database:

title = Gathering hardware information
text = Gathering hardware information.  You may be prompted for your password.
       This process will take approximately 30 seconds and you will be provided
       with a URL through which you can confirm and register your hardware
whitelist_filter = ^hwsubmit$
whitelist_selection = ^hwsubmit$
skip_whitelist_selection = True
skip_test_selection = True
# A bogus secure_id ensures we don't ask it
# It can always be overridden in the .conf file.
secure_id = 000
submit_to = certification
submit_url =

FInally, canonical-driver-test-suite provides both a graphical and a text mode launcher, which are functionally equivalent:

title = "Canonical Driver Test Suite"
text = "<p>Welcome to the Canonical Driver Test Suite.</p>
 <p>This program contains automated and manual tests to help you discover
 issues that will arise when running your device drivers on Ubuntu.</p>
 <p>This application will step the user through these tests in a
 predetermined order and automatically collect both system information as
 well as test results. It will also prompt the user for input when manual
 testing is required.</p>
 <p>The run time for the tests is determined by which tests you decide to
 execute. The user will have the opportunity to customize the test run to
 accommodate the driver and the amount of time available for testing.</p>
 <p>To begin, simply click the Continue button below and follow the onscreen
whitelist_filter = "^ihv-.*"
ok_btn_text = "Save Results"
input_type = "none"
xml_export_path = ""
submit_to = "local"

Text mode:

#!/usr/bin/env checkbox-launcher
text = Welcome to the Canonical Driver Test Suite
    This program contains automated and manual tests to help you discover
    issues that will arise when running your device drivers on Ubuntu.
    This application will step the user through these tests in a
    predetermined order and automatically collect both system information as
    well as test results. It will also prompt the user for input when manual
    testing is required.
    The run time for the tests is determined by which tests you decide to
    execute. The user will have the opportunity to customize the test run to
    accommodate the driver and the amount of time available for testing.
    To begin, simply click the Continue button below and follow the onscreen
# Whitelist(s) displayed in the suite selection screen
whitelist_filter = ^ihv-.*
# Whitelist_selection is mandatory so we set it to a bogus value so
# no whitelists are preselected.
whitelist_selection = bogus


This page describes the necessary steps for releasing versions of Checkbox and Checkbox Certification to the stable PPA belonging to the Hardware Certification team, on a regular basis. Throughout this document the term 'Checkbox' is used as a catch-all term to cover all versions of Checkbox owned by the Hardware Certification team, currently Checkbox itself and the Checkbox Certification extensions.


Currently the process runs on a bi-weekly cadence, with a new release of Checkbox every two weeks. This covers ten working days, and the tasks carried out on each day or group of days is described below:
  • Days 1-4: Time allowed for new changes to be introduced into trunk.
  • Day 5: Changes are merged from the trunk of lp:checkbox and lp:checkbox-certification to their respective release branches. The changelogs for both are bumped at this point and revisions are tagged. At this stage it may also be necessary to copy the package 'fwts' from the FWTS Stable PPA <> to the Checkbox Release Testing PPA <>.
  • Days 6-9: Testing is performed by the release manager for the Hardware Certification team, and a representative of the CE QA team (the main customer for Checkbox within Canonical)
  • Day 9: A release meeting is held between the release manager for the Hardware Certification team and the representative of the CE QA team. Potential issues with the release are identified and plans made to address them.
  • Day 10: The tested version of Checkbox is copied to the stable PPA.

Launchpad Branches

The release process requires separate branches in Launchpad containing a semi-frozen version of the code that was in trunk on day 5 of the process. This is so that development can continue on trunk without jeopardising the stability of the to-be released version of Checkbox. The relationship between all branches involved in the process is as shown below:
  • lp:checkbox/release <- lp:checkbox
  • lp:checkbox-certification/release <- lp:checkbox-certification
  • lp:~checkbox-dev/checkbox/checkbox-packaging-release <- lp:~checkbox-dev/checkbox/checkbox-packaging

Auditing milestoned bugs

Prior to creating the release candidate the release manager should review the list of bugs milestoned for the next release of Checkbox. They should visit checkbox milestones <> and locate the milestone dated with the release date.
  • For bugs that are set to In Progress with a branch associated - liase with the branch owner to see if the merge can be completed before the deadline.
  • For bugs that are in any other non-closed status (except Fix Commited) - re-milestone them to the following milestone.

Cutting the release

In order to cut the release, we have to merge the changes from trunk into the release branch, commit them with a suitable message and update the changelog in trunk so that future changes go under the correct version. For each combination of branches shown above, do the following (the example uses lp:checkbox and lp:checkbox/release):

bzr branch lp:checkbox/release checkbox-release
bzr branch lp:checkbox checkbox-trunk
cd checkbox-release
current_stable=`head -n1 $(find . -name 'changelog') | grep -oP '(?<=\().*(?=\))'`
bzr merge lp:checkbox

at this point if no changes (other than one to debian/changelog) get merged in then we do not perform a release of the package in question. In practice this often happens with checkbox-certification but never with checkbox:

bzr commit -m "Merged in changes from rev$(bzr revno -r tag:$current_stable lp:checkbox) to rev$(bzr revno lp:checkbox) from lp:checkbox"
bzr push lp:checkbox/release
cd `find . -name 'debian'`; cd ..
bzr tag `head -n1 debian/changelog | grep -oP '(?<=\().*(?=\))'`
dch -r (save modified changelog)
dch -i -U 'Incremented changelog'
bzr push lp:checkbox

The last step in the process is to perform a build of the packages in the ppa:checkbox-dev/testing PPA. To do this we need to go to the recipe pages for the checkbox and/or checkbox-certification release branches.

The Build Now option should be available on the page. Click it to start a build.

Copying Firmware Test Suite to the Testing PPA

The Firmware Test Suite tool is a test tool for system firmware that is naturally heavily utilised by Checkbox. To make sure the latest version which contains fixes and new tests/features needed by Checkbox is available and also doesn't break anything in Checkbox, we need to release it alongside Checkbox. After cutting the release if the Firmware Testing team have notified that a new version is available and that this version should be used for certification, we need to copy it to the Testing PPA. To do this we need to go to the Copy packages view of the Firmware Test Suite (Stable) PPA <> and select the 'fwts' packages for all releases back to Precise. We need to set the 'Destination PPA' as 'Checkbox Release Testing [~checkbox-dev/testing]' and the 'Copy options' field to 'Copy existing binaries', then click 'Copy packages'. This step then needs to be repeated but set the 'Destination PPA' field to 'PPA for Checkbox Developers [~checkbox-dev/ppa]'.

Next Release of Checkbox e-mail

So that everyone has the opportunity to perform whatever testing is required in a timely manner, after the PPA builds have been completed an email should be sent to the following mailing lists:
  • <>
  • <>

The content is typically something like this:

Subject: Next Release of Checkbox (18/11/2013)
The next release of Checkbox is available in the PPA.
Please test it at your convenience. Checkbox is based on revision 2484 of
lp:checkbox and Checkbox Certification is based on revision 586 of

If one or the other of Checkbox and Checkbox Certification have not been updated then there is no need to mention that package

Testing the release

Now that the release has been cut, testing should take place prior to the release meeting. From the point of view of the certification team, what needs to be tested is checkbox-certification-client and checkbox-certification-server which form the basis for CE QAs OEM specific versions of Checkbox. Checkbox certification server is tested in the CI loop Checkbox certification client needs to be tested manually.

Release Meeting

On the Thursday before the release is made, a meeting is held between a representative of the Certification team and a representative of the Commercial Engineering QA team. The meeting is held at 7:30 UTC as shown in this calendar invite <>. An agenda for the meeting is included in the invite.

Publishing the release

To publish the release we simply need to copy a number of packages from the Checkbox Release Testing PPA <> to the Hardware Certification Public PPA <>. To do this we go to the Copy packages view of the Checkbox Release Testing PPA <> and select all versions of the following list of packages: checkbox, checkbox-certification, fwts. Make sure that the 'Destination PPA' field is set to 'Public PPA for Hardware Certification [~hardware-certification/public]' and that the 'Copy options' field is set to 'Copy existing binaries', then click 'Copy Packages'.

After that is done an announcement email should be sent to <>. A template for the announcement in included below:

A new release of checkbox has been uploaded to the Hardware
Certification Public PPA
( The
release is based on revision 2294 of lp:checkbox

Please attach the most recent part of the changelog as release notes

  • genindex
  • modindex
  • search


Zygmunt Krynicki


2013-2014, Zygmunt Krynicki
January 11, 2016 0.23