QEMU has configurations enabled for a number of different CI services. The most up to date information about them and their status can be found at:

Custom CI/CD variables

QEMU CI pipelines can be tuned by setting some CI environment variables.

Set variable globally in the user’s CI namespace

Variables can be set globally in the user’s CI namespace setting.

For further information about how to set these variables, please refer to:

Set variable manually when pushing a branch or tag to the user’s repository

Variables can be set manually when pushing a branch or tag, using git-push command line arguments.

Example setting the QEMU_CI_EXAMPLE_VAR variable:

git push -o ci.variable="QEMU_CI_EXAMPLE_VAR=value" myrepo mybranch

For further information about how to set these variables, please refer to:

Here is a list of the most used variables:


By default, tests using the Avocado framework are not run automatically in the pipelines (because multiple artifacts have to be downloaded, and if these artifacts are not already cached, downloading them make the jobs reach the timeout limit). Set this variable to have the tests using the Avocado framework run automatically.

Jobs on Custom Runners

Besides the jobs run under the various CI systems listed before, there are a number additional jobs that will run before an actual merge. These use the same GitLab CI’s service/framework already used for all other GitLab based CI jobs, but rely on additional systems, not the ones provided by GitLab as “shared runners”.

The architecture of GitLab’s CI service allows different machines to be set up with GitLab’s “agent”, called gitlab-runner, which will take care of running jobs created by events such as a push to a branch. Here, the combination of a machine, properly configured with GitLab’s gitlab-runner, is called a “custom runner”.

The GitLab CI jobs definition for the custom runners are located under:


Custom runners entail custom machines. To see a list of the machines currently deployed in the QEMU GitLab CI and their maintainers, please refer to the QEMU wiki.

Machine Setup Howto

For all Linux based systems, the setup can be mostly automated by the execution of two Ansible playbooks. Create an inventory file under scripts/ci/setup, such as this:


You may need to set some variables in the inventory file itself. One very common need is to tell Ansible to use a Python 3 interpreter on those hosts. This would look like:

fully.qualified.domain ansible_python_interpreter=/usr/bin/python3
other.machine.hostname ansible_python_interpreter=/usr/bin/python3

Build environment

The scripts/ci/setup/build-environment.yml Ansible playbook will set up machines with the environment needed to perform builds and run QEMU tests. This playbook consists on the installation of various required packages (and a general package update while at it). It currently covers a number of different Linux distributions, but it can be expanded to cover other systems.

The minimum required version of Ansible successfully tested in this playbook is 2.8.0 (a version check is embedded within the playbook itself). To run the playbook, execute:

cd scripts/ci/setup
ansible-playbook -i inventory build-environment.yml

Please note that most of the tasks in the playbook require superuser privileges, such as those from the root account or those obtained by sudo. If necessary, please refer to ansible-playbook options such as --become, --become-method, --become-user and --ask-become-pass.

gitlab-runner setup and registration

The gitlab-runner agent needs to be installed on each machine that will run jobs. The association between a machine and a GitLab project happens with a registration token. To find the registration token for your repository/project, navigate on GitLab’s web UI to:

  • Settings (the gears-like icon at the bottom of the left hand side vertical toolbar), then
  • CI/CD, then
  • Runners, and click on the “Expand” button, then
  • Under “Set up a specific Runner manually”, look for the value under “And this registration token:”

Copy the scripts/ci/setup/vars.yml.template file to scripts/ci/setup/vars.yml. Then, set the gitlab_runner_registration_token variable to the value obtained earlier.

To run the playbook, execute:

cd scripts/ci/setup
ansible-playbook -i inventory gitlab-runner.yml

Following the registration, it’s necessary to configure the runner tags, and optionally other configurations on the GitLab UI. Navigate to:

  • Settings (the gears like icon), then
  • CI/CD, then
  • Runners, and click on the “Expand” button, then
  • “Runners activated for this project”, then
  • Click on the “Edit” icon (next to the “Lock” Icon)

Tags are very important as they are used to route specific jobs to specific types of runners, so it’s a good idea to double check that the automatically created tags are consistent with the OS and architecture. For instance, an Ubuntu 20.04 aarch64 system should have tags set as:


Because the job definition at .gitlab-ci.d/custom-runners.yml would contain:

 - ubuntu_20.04
 - aarch64

It’s also recommended to:

  • increase the “Maximum job timeout” to something like 2h
  • give it a better Description