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Introduction to software testing

Most Ruby libraries contain code to test the functionality provided by the library and compare results with known inputs. One commonly used testing framework is RSpec, indicated by a spec directory in your gem's root folder. Other test frameworks may use a test directory.

Running tests

If the gem has tests defined (usually has a test or spec directory), make sure you run them successfully. Your package should contain one (and only one) of debian/ruby-test-file.yaml, ruby-tests.rake, or ruby-tests.rb.

1. By default, gem2deb creates debian/ruby-test-files.yaml. However, this may not always work. If your test or spec directory contains files with extentions other than .rb, this is most certainly going to fail. You can try removing non-ruby files from ruby-test-files.yaml and rebuild it. If it still does not work, try the other two methods described below.

2. You may also try ruby-tests.rake if the gem uses rspec to run the tests (in this case you have a spec/ directory with *_spec.rb files). See ruby-dataobjects-sqlite3 for an example.

3. You can try ruby-tests.rb, see ruby-warden for an example. It allows you to add custom directories to ruby library load path and you may need it if your tests fail to find files already present in 'lib' or 'test' directories.

$: << 'lib' << '.'


Gem provide a test runner (ruby-vegas) - It has test_vegas_runner.rb, so just use it from ruby-tests.rb

 require 'test/test_vegas_runner.rb'

Dealing with Bundler usage

Tips for rails testapp/dummy app or when you can't easily remove bundler usage by patching. Some libraries meant to work with rails create a dummy rails app to test their functionality with a rails app. "case six: bundle install" tells you how to avoid bundler completely. If that fails, try the steps below.

  1. Remove Gemfile.lock (use quilt) as we can't expect debian environment to match exact versions of libraries used by the upstream developers.

  2. Add build dependencies on bundler and rubygems-integration
  3. Patch out Gemfile/gemspec/metadata.yml if bundler insist on a specific version of library and debian already has a newer version. Relax the dependency as ">="

Common errors

First, check for build-depencies on are listed as development (see also the commented line in debian/control produced by gem2deb). You may not need all the build dependencies listed there; the only way to be sure is to see the build errors. Many of these dependencies are required during the tests.

Case one: missing library/gem

If you see a file is missing in the error message, it may be provided by a gem not yet installed in your system. For example, if you see

no such file to load -- shoulda (LoadError), 

search for shoulda, ie,

$ apt-cache search shoulda

If you find it is already packaged, install it with

# apt-get install ruby-shoulda

Note: Remember to add the build dependency you just found to Build-Depends in debian/control (edit this file)


Build-Depends: debhelper (>= 7.0.50~), gem2deb (>= 0.3.0~)


Build-Depends: debhelper (>= 7.0.50~), gem2deb (>= 0.3.0~), ruby-shoulda

Note: If you see something like no such file to load -- rack/test (LoadError), look for rack-test as the gem name.

If you cannot find the package via apt, it may be a gem that has not yet been packaged for Debian. In this case, run:

gem list -r shoulda

If you find it in the remote gem list, then you need to package it first :)

Note: There are some libraries which we can safely ignore. Use quilt for commenting these out. See basic quilt for help in using quilt.

  1. appraisal - just uncomment require 'appraisal' lines as it is used for creating a specific environment using rubygems and bundler and will conflict with debian environment

  2. simplecov - used for code coverage analysis. Comment out require 'simplecov' and its other usages. ruby-oauth2 has an example patch

  3. ammeter - just comment out

  4. coveralls - code coverage, just comment out

  5. rcov - code coverage, just comment out

  6. rubygems - can conflict with apt

  7. bundler - can be difficult to remove sometimes. See "case six: bundle install" for tips.

Case two: tests are not in library load path

If you see spec_helper or test_helper is missing, you may need to add spec or test directory to library load path.

  in `require': no such file to load -- test_helper (LoadError)

Using ruby-tests.rb in debian folder

Uncomment the following line in ruby-tests.rb and modify it accordingly.

$: << 'lib' << '.' 


$: << 'test'  << '.' 

Using ruby-tests.rake in debian folder


t.libs << 'test' << '.'

just after do |t|

This adds test directory to load path and your tests will be able to find test_helper.

Case three: Argument Error

Example error statement : 'ensure_shared_example_group_name_not_taken'

This happens due to some namespacing error. Refer to this stackoverflow thread for more details.

Change this:

    Dir['{spec}/**/*.rb'].each { |f| require f }


    Dir['{spec}/**/*_spec.rb'].each { |f| require f }

Case four: missing test folder from rubygems org

Sometimes, gems are not packaged with their test folders. Often, these are present at upstream, e.g., at github.

Download the tarball from the upstream source (you may need to convert it to .tar.gz yourself), then run dh-make-ruby <gem-name>.tar.gz.

Then cd to ruby-<gem-name> and run dpkg-buildpackage.

Look for any lines saying "no test suites found" and proceed further accordingly ignore the key signing and other warnings for now..

Note: Request for upstream to include tests in future version of the gem itself. See for an example.

Case five: tests failure due to interactions

Sometimes, tests may pass perfectly when they are run separately and fail when we are building it because then the tests are running together and interact with each other. To see if the tests pass individually, run the following commands inside the test directory.

RUBY=ruby1.8 ./
RUBY=ruby1.9.1 ./

If the tests are passing now, you may want to figure out a way and edit the debian/ruby-tests.rb file by which the tests can run without interacting with each other. One such fix made to the ruby-tests.rb file is as follows.

Dir['test/*_test.rb'].each do |f|
  puts f        
  system("#{ENV['RUBY_TEST_BIN']} -Idebian/ruby-timecop/usr/lib/ruby/vendor_ruby:./test  #{f}") or raise        

The new ruby-tests.rb has a loop: for every test file, call ruby with this test file, and raise an exception if the test fails this way, all the tests are run separately.

Case six: bundle install

If you get an error like this asking you to run bundle install for any gem,

Could not find gem 'rake (>= 0) ruby' in the gems available on this machine.
Run `bundle install` to install missing gems.

Then it means the package is using bundler to satisfy dependencies. Building a deb package should not require use of bundler to install dependencies, but instead all dependencies should be provided in debian/control file as "Build-Depends:" and "Depends:"

You'll have to create a patch to un-comment use of bundler or rubygems like this. (example from ruby-rack-rewrite). Use quilt to create the patch. See basic quilt for help in using quilt.

--- a/test/test_helper.rb
+++ b/test/test_helper.rb
@@ -1,13 +1,18 @@
-require 'rubygems'
-require 'bundler/setup'
+# We'll add dependencies in debian/control
+#require 'rubygems'
+#require 'bundler/setup'

-Bundler.require :default, :development
+#Bundler.require :default, :development

 require 'test/unit'                               

See "Case seven" below for a solution to errors caused by this.

Case seven: NoMethodError

If you get an error similar to this,

./test/rack-rewrite_test.rb:47: undefined method `context' for RackRewriteTest:Class (NoMethodError)

It usually means the library is using bundler to require other libraries and which are missing, see "Case six" above for details. We can add those dependencies manually by patching test_helper.rb or spec_helper.rb as is the case.

--- a/test/test_helper.rb
+++ b/test/test_helper.rb
@@ -1,13 +1,18 @@

 require 'test/unit'
+require 'shoulda'
+require 'mocha'
+require 'rack'
+require 'rack/rewrite'

 class Test::Unit::TestCase

 def supported_status_codes
   [:r301, :r302, :r303, :r307]
\ No newline at end of file

In the above example, the dependency is found from Gemfile, and corresponding gemspec

source ""


group :development do
  gem 'rake'

Dependency section of rack-rewrite.gemspec is given below

  s.add_development_dependency 'bundler'
  s.add_development_dependency 'shoulda', '~> 2.10.2'
  s.add_development_dependency 'mocha', '~> 0.9.7'
  s.add_development_dependency 'rack'

Using these as reference, we add those as require lines in the patch. If you cannot solve case six and seven, see "Dealing with Bundler usage"