Use Test::Nginx with etcproxy and/or valgrind (Was Re: Test::Nginx::LWP vs. Test::Nginx::Socket)

agentzh agentzh at
Thu Mar 3 06:49:17 MSK 2011

On Thu, Mar 3, 2011 at 12:37 AM, Antoine BONAVITA
<antoine_bonavita at> wrote:
> Following agentzh tips, I'm moving the test cases for my module to Test::Nginx
> (instead of using my python unit tests).

There's a lot of undocumented features in Test::Nginx::Socket. I'm
sorry. I'd like to document a bit how to integrate it with etcproxy
and/or valgrind here because it's so useful ;)

Use Test::Nginx::Socket with etcproxy

Test::Nginx automatically starts an nginx instance (from the PATH env)
rooted at t/servroot/ and the default config template makes this nginx
instance listen on the port 1984 by default.

The default settings in etcproxy [1] makes this small TCP proxy split
the TCP packets into bytes and introduce 1ms latency among them.

There's usually various TCP chains that we can put etcproxy into, for example

Test::Nginx <=> nginx

   $ ./etcproxy 1234 1984

Here we tell etcproxy to listen on port 1234 and to delegate all the
TCP traffic to the port 1984, the default port that Test::Nginx makes
nginx listen to.

And then we tell Test::Nginx to test against the port 1234, where
etcproxy listens on, rather than the port 1984 that nginx directly
listens on:

   $ TEST_NGINX_CLIENT_PORT=1234 prove -r t/

Then the TCP chain now looks like this:

   Test::Nginx <=> etcproxy (1234) <=> nginx (1984)

So etcproxy can effectively emulate extreme network conditions and
exercise "unusual" code paths in your nginx server by your tests.

In practice, *tons* of weird bugs can be captured by this setting.
Even ourselves didn't expect that this simple approach is so

nginx <=> memcached

We first start the memcached server daemon on port 11211:

    memcached -p 11211 -vv

and then we another etcproxy instance to listen on port 11984 like this

    $ ./etcproxy 11984 11211

Then we tell our t/foo.t test script to connect to 11984 rather than 11211:

   # foo.t
   use Test::Nginx::Socket;
   plan tests => 2 * repeat_each() * blocks();
   $ENV{TEST_NGINX_MEMCACHED_PORT} ||= 11211;  # make this env take a
default value


   === TEST 1: sanity
   --- config
   location /foo {
        set $memc_cmd set;
        set $memc_key foo;
        set $memc_value bar;
   --- request
       GET /foo
   --- response_body_like: STORED

The Test::Nginx library will automatically expand the special macro
"$TEST_NGINX_MEMCACHED_PORT" to the environment with the same name.
You can define your own $TEST_NGINX_BLAH_BLAH_PORT macros as long as
its prefix is TEST_NGINX_ and all in upper case letters.

And now we can run your test script against the etcproxy port 11984:

    TEST_NGINX_MEMCACHED_PORT=11984 prove t/foo.t

Then the TCP chains look like this:

    Test::Nginx <=> nginx (1984) <=> etcproxy (11984) <=> memcached (11211)

If TEST_NGINX_MEMCACHED_PORT is not set, then it will take the default
value 11211, which is what we want when there's no etcproxy

    Test::Nginx <=> nginx (1984) <=> memcached (11211)

This approach also works for proxied mysql and postgres traffic.
Please see the live test suite of ngx_drizzle and ngx_postgres for
more details.

Usually we set both TEST_NGINX_CLIENT_PORT and
TEST_NGINX_MEMCACHED_PORT (and etc) at the same time, effectively
yielding the following chain:

    Test::Nginx <=> etcproxy (1234) <=> nginx (1984) <=> etcproxy
(11984) <=> memcached (11211)

as long as you run two separate etcproxy instances in two separate terminals.

It's easy to verify if the traffic actually goes through your etcproxy
server. Just check if the terminal running etcproxy emits outputs. By
default, etcproxy always dump out the incoming and outgoing data to

Use Test::Nginx::Socket with valgrind memcheck

Test::Nginx has integrated support for valgrind [2] even though by
default it does not bother running it with the tests because valgrind
will significantly slow down the test sutie.

First ensure that your valgrind executable visible in your PATH env.
And then run your test suite with the TEST_NGINX_USE_VALGRIND env set
to true:

    TEST_NGINX_USE_VALGRIND=1 prove -r t

If you see false alarms, you do have a chance to skip them by defining
a ./valgrind.suppress file at the root of your module source tree, as

This is the suppression file for ngx_drizzle. Test::Nginx will
automatically use it to start nginx with valgrind memcheck if this
file does exist at the expected location.

If you do see a lot of "Connection refused" errors while running the
tests this way, then you probably have a slow machine (or a very busy
one) that the default waiting time is not sufficient for valgrind to
start. You can define the sleep time to a larger value by setting the

    TEST_NGINX_SLEEP=1 prove -r t

The time unit used here is "second". The default sleep setting just
fits my ThinkPad (Core2Duo T9600).

Applying the no-pool patch to your nginx core is recommended while
running nginx with valgrind:

The nginx memory pool can prevent valgrind from spotting lots of
invalid memory reads/writes as well as certain double-free errors. We
did find a lot more memory issues in many of our modules when we first
introduced the no-pool patch in practice ;)

There's also more advanced features in Test::Nginx that have never
documented. I'd like to write more about them in the near future ;)



[1] etcproxy:
[2] valgrind:

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