Getting started


The Beaker team uses RHEL 7 for development, testing, and deployment, therefore you should install RHEL7 or CentOS 7 in a virtual machine before continuing with the steps described below.

Beaker repository structure

Beaker consists of several different components. The largest and most critical are a set of web services that manage an inventory of hardware systems distributed across multiple labs and take care of provisioning systems appropriately and dispatching jobs to them.

This is the software that is developed in the main Beaker git repository (click link to browse). The bulk of this developer guide focuses on this component.

However, plays host to a few other components which are also considered part of the wider “Beaker project”:

  • The source for the project web site (including this developer’s guide).
  • rhts: The code in this repo isn’t part of Beaker as such, it’s a collection of utilities designed to help with writing and running Beaker test cases.
  • restraint: The test harness used to communicate between running tests and the Beaker infrastructure. Restraint became default test harness for RHEL 8 and Fedora 29+. In near future we are planning to completely running on restraint.

Getting the source code

Start by cloning Beaker’s git repository:

git clone
cd beaker
git submodule update --init

This will clone the Beaker sources and update the git submodules to keep track of all (recent) JS libraries.

For the purposes of development, Beaker should be run on the develop branch:

git checkout develop

This branch will become the next Beaker release. If you want to test against the latest released version, you can use the master branch. For older releases, use the relevant git tag.

Cloning the other repos is similar to the above, but they all develop directly on master (as they don’t have a concept of “hot fix” releases that only include bug fixes - any release may include a combination of both new features and bug fixes)

Installing dependencies

Beaker depends on some packages in the RHEL Optional repo and RHEL Extras repo. If you are using RHEL, you should enable the Optional and Extras repo:

subscription-manager repos --enable=rhel-7-server-optional-rpms
subscription-manager repos --enable=rhel-7-server-extras-rpms

Beaker also depends on a number of packages which are not included in RHEL. These are published on the Beaker web site in the server yum repository:

wget -O /etc/yum.repos.d/beaker-server.repo \

The simplest way to install all the packages you will need for developing Beaker is to install the latest pre-built version of Beaker’s test suite. Yum will pull in all the dependencies (your working directory should be the project root of your local clone of the main beaker project):

yum install beaker-integration-tests
yum-builddep beaker.spec

Since we will be running Beaker directly from a source checkout, we can now remove the pre-built packages. This is just to avoid any confusion between the two different copies of Beaker. The dependencies will remain installed.

yum remove beaker-common \
    beaker-client \
    beaker-lab-controller \
    beaker-server \

Creating and populating a database

Beaker currently only supports MySQL with InnoDB as the database backend (it does use SQL Alchemy internally though, so porting it to an alternate backend shouldn’t be too difficult). On RHEL and Fedora systems, MySQL can easily be installed with:

yum install mariadb mariadb-server

For Beaker development, the following settings should be added to /etc/my.cnf in the [mysqld] section before starting the MySQL daemon:


Once these settings are in place, enable and start the database daemon:

systemctl enable mariadb
systemctl start mariadb

Before running the development server for the first time, you must create and populate its database:

cd Server/
mysql -uroot <<"EOF"
GRANT ALL ON beaker.* TO 'beaker'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'beaker';
PYTHONPATH=../Common:. python bkr/server/tools/ \
    --user=admin \
    --password=adminpassword \

By default this uses the beaker database on localhost. This can be changed by editing dev.cfg and updating the above configuration commands appropriately.

Running the Beaker web application

You can then start a development server using the script:

cd Server/

If you want to set up a complete Beaker testing environment (including a lab controller) with the ability to provision systems and run jobs, refer to Beaker in a box, or the more detailed installation instructions.

Running Lab Controller processes in a development environment is currently not well tested.

Running Beaker’s test suite

Beaker has a large and thorough suite of integration tests, including many Selenium/WebDriver browser tests. Before submitting a patch, it should be tested by running the test suite either locally, or in Beaker, or both.

In order to run the test suite locally, you must create two additional test databases in your local MySQL instance:

mysql -uroot <<"EOF"
CREATE DATABASE beaker_test;
GRANT ALL ON beaker_test.* TO 'beaker'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'beaker';

mysql -uroot <<"EOF"
CREATE DATABASE beaker_migration_test;
GRANT ALL ON beaker_migration_test.* TO 'beaker'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'beaker';

Once the test databases are created, you can then run the entire test suite using

cd IntegrationTests/

The script is a thin wrapper around nosetests which sets up PYTHONPATH for running from a git checkout.

Next steps

Now that you have a working Beaker development environment, refer to the next section for tips about writing your patch and posting it for review.

The subsequent sections also provide important tips and guidelines about different aspects of developing for Beaker.