Reserving a system after testing

After the tests have completed, it may be desirable to reserve the test system to collect any additional logs, perform any additional testing or verify the test results manually. Reserving a system prevents Beaker from claiming back the system automatically and can be accomplished using one of the following methods.

Using the /distribution/reservesys task

When the /distribution/reservesys task is added to a recipe, it will reserve the system until the system is explicitly returned or the reservation duration expires. If the reservation is explicitly returned, then execution resumes with the next task, or, if there are no remaining tasks, the recipe is marked as Completed. If the reservation duration instead expires, then the recipe is aborted entirely and no further tasks are executed.

An example recipe skeleton is as follows:

  <task name='/distribution/mytask1'/>
  <task name='/distribution/mytask2'/>
  <task name='/distribution/reservesys'/>

The above will reserve the system after the two tasks, /distribution/task1 and /distribution/task2 have finished execution. The recipe status will be “Running” during the duration of the system being reserved.

Configuring the reservation behavior

The reservation behavior can be configured with the help of the following task parameters:

  • RESERVE_IF_FAIL: If this parameter is defined then the result of the recipe is checked. The system is reserved, only if the recipe did not pass. If it passed, this “test” is reported back to Beaker as a pass and the next task in the recipe (if any) begins execution. The parameter should be defined as: <param name="RESERVE_IF_FAIL" value= "True" /> (While any non-empty string will have the same effect, using the string "True" is strongly recommended). If you want to reserve the system irrespective of the result of the test, do not specify this variable at all.
  • RESERVETIME: Using this parameter, you can define the duration (in seconds) for which you want to reserve the system up to a maximum of 356400 seconds (99 hours). If this variable is not defined, the default reservation is for 86400 seconds (24 hours). You can return the system early as described in Returning early and extending reservation.

For example, to define both these parameters when you specify the task in your job description, you would use the following:

<task name="/distribution/reservesys" role="STANDALONE">
    <param name="RESERVE_IF_FAIL" value="True" />
    <param name="RESERVETIME" value="172800" />


Due to an unfortunate race condition, conditional reservation may be unreliable if the immediately preceding task is the only one that fails in the recipe. Inserting /distribution/utils/dummy prior to this task may help if the problem of failing to reserve the system occurs regularly.


Depending on whether you set the RESERVE_IF_FAIL parameter appropriately and its implications (as described), once the system has been reserved, you will receive an email with the subject “[Beaker Machine Reserved]” and other information. This is a notification that the system has now been reserved and you can connect to it (using an SSH client, either using the username and password or your public key).

The notification email is sent from the test system. This implies that in case of a problem in network connectivity between your email server and the test system, the notification email will not be received.

Returning early and extending reservation

The email also includes information about returning the system early or extending your reservation time. To return the system early, execute from your terminal (after you have logged in to the system).

To extend the reservation time, execute and enter the desired extension to the reservation (relative to the current time).

Changes to the test system environment

Besides creating the above scripts on the test system in /usr/bin, the task also sets up a custom message in /etc/motd. When you login to the reserved system, you will be greeted with a custom message and you will find the two scripts accessible from your shell. These changes are in addition to the RPM packages installed to meet the dependencies for the task.

Using the <reservesys/> element

New in version 0.17.0.

If this element is added to a recipe, it will reserve the system after all the tasks have finished execution (or when the recipe is aborted as described below). By default, it reserves the system for 86400 seconds (or 24 hours), but this can be changed using the duration attribute. For example, <reservesys duration="3600"/> will reserve the system for an hour.

An example recipe skeleton using this approach is as follows:

  <task name='/distribution/mytask1'/>
  <task name='/distribution/mytask2'/>

After both the tasks have finished execution, the system will be reserved. The recipe status will be “Reserved” during the duration of the system being reserved.

You can also conditionally reserve the system at the end of your recipe by using the attribute when="", with the following values:

The system will be reserved if the recipe status is Aborted.
The system will be reserved if the recipe status is Aborted, or the result is Fail.
The system will be reserved if the recipe status is Aborted, or the result is Fail or Warn. This corresponds to the existing RESERVE_IF_FAIL=1 option for the /distribution/reservesys task.
The system will be reserved unconditionally.

If this element is given without a when="" attribute, it defaults to when="always", matching the behaviour from previous Beaker versions.

The advantage of using this approach is that this will also reserve the system under abnormal circumstances which cause the recipe to be aborted. Circumstances in which this may happen include a hung task, installation failures, kernel panics, the test harness rendered non-functional for some reason and others. Thus, this is a more robust way of reserving a system.

Notification email

Once the system is reserved, an email notification will be sent to the job owner with the subject “[Beaker System Reservation] System:” The email content is slightly different from the previous case, but includes similar information such as the hostname of the system reserved, the distribution provisioned on the system, how to return the reservation and others. The notification email is sent from the Beaker server, and hence any abnormal condition on the test system doesn’t affect this.

Returning early and extending reservation

Once a system is reserved, the remaining duration is shown at the top of the recipe page with the label Remaining watchdog time. To return the system, click the Return the reservation button on the Reservation tab.

On the Reservation tab, you can extend the reservation by clicking on the Extend the reservation button and enter how much time the reservation should be extended by. You can also extend it by using the bkr watchdog-extend command.

Changes to the test system environment

As a consequence of the fact that system reservation using this method is completely external to the test system, the test system will be in a state exactly what it was at the end of executing the last task when it’s reserved. A standard Beaker test system message is displayed when you login.