Sheriff FAQ: Chromium OS

The thesis on Sheriffing.

The purpose of sheriffing

These threefold purposes apply to sheriffs

  1. Make sure tip-of-tree (ToT) breakages are identified and addressed in a timely fashion.

  2. Manually watch over our build system in ways automation doesn‘t/can’t do.

  3. Give developers a chance to learn a little more about how build works and breaks.

In exchange for the above, sheriffs are granted Code Review +2 access to the ChromeOS tree. Sheriffing is an important responsibility and fulfilling the responsibility grants you CR+2 access.

The sheriff's primary focus is the postsubmit builders

There are many CQ‘s running at the same time. The CQ’s are the concern of the CL authors. Every 30 minutes, a builder called Annealing takes a snapshot of the tree and uprevs packages. Then, the postsubmit builder takes the most recent of these (every 7-10 hours) and runs builds and hardware tests. There are also snapshot builds launched at a higher frequency which may show tip-of-tree build breakages more quickly as they're launched and complete at a more rapid cadence. As a sheriff, the only thing that you are concerned about is the status of the tip-of-tree as shown by the postsubmit\snapshots as tracked in Sheriff-o-Matic (see below). By fixing the tip-of-tree, you unblock CQ runs that are running from the same broken state of the tree. The secondary sheriff will be watching the tip-of-tree release builders, and some, but not all issues will manifest there as well see the secondary sheriff doc. The older release builds are watched by the release owner TPMs.

This diagram attempts to capture this at an abstract level:


The expectations on a sheriff

  1. Do not leave the tree unattended; coordinate with your secondary sheriff to ensure this. If you need to step out for a few hours, make sure that your secondary is covering for you. Normal work hours (for you) only.
  2. Watch Sheriff-o-Matic for ChromeOS
    1. Keep this user interface open during your entire shift.
    2. File or locate bugs. File new bugs, or update existing ones. You can file a bug from the UI: group alerts with a similar root cause, then click the “File a Bug” link at the top. Include links in the bug. Important: bugs should be routed to the right component for the breakage or flake! Raise priority as needed. See this video for a demo.
    3. See the SoM help page for additional help.
  3. Find owners for bugs that break our builds. It‘s not the Sheriff’s job to fix things, only to find the right person.
  4. File bugs for test flakes that fail builds. This is how we get build/infrastructure/test flake fixed, so it stops happening. Identify existing bugs where you can, or file new ones.
  5. Identify confusing output. If something about the waterfall or build results don't make sense, file a bug.
  6. When a specific builder is in a very bad state that cannot be corrected immediately, mark the builder non-critical. This will allow CQ runs that have the same build or hardware test failure to pass.
    1. Refer to go/cros-noncritical
    2. When the bug is resolved and the builder is stable, move it back to the critical list.
  7. While the tree is green, work on sheriffing hotlist bugs -- not your normal work items.

Secondary sheriff

  1. Watch release builders and branches (internal doc here).
  2. Step in to replace the sheriff when they're unavailable.

Sheriff and Gardener calendars

To add calendar entries to your own calendar, follow directions at go/oncall2calendar.

How do I join or leave the rotation?

Gardeners are added and removed from a Ganpati group (Gardeners group, Shadow Gardeners group) by managers.

How do I swap with someone else?

To swap rotations now, all that need be done is to manually edit the g3 oncall file and put the username of the person taking your shift where yours occurs. These direct links will open an editor for you to make the change, immediately:

What should I do when I report for duty?

At the beginning of your stint as Sheriff, please perform the following tasks:

  1. Join the CrOS Oncall Hangouts Chat room and introduce yourself as an on-duty sheriff.
  2. Pull up the Sheriff-o-Matic for ChromeOS interface.
  3. Triage any failures. You are responsible for identifying issues that need attention and finding someone to pay attention to them. Fixing issues yourself is secondary.
  4. Attend the Monday weekly handoff meeting. You will have received an invite to this weekly meeting where sheriffs from the previous week provide a handoff on current issues.

What should I do as I prepare to end my shift?

At the end of your stint as Sheriff, please attend the following week's Monday handoff meeting.

How do postsubmit and CQ builders work?

In the diagram above, there‘s a purple arrow that proceeds off to the right. This represents the progress of the manifest-internal repository over time (as repos in the ChromeOS forest progress). The Annealing builder makes snapshots of this progress and CQ and postsubmit builders run with one of these snapshots as their base commit. For postsubmit, it just always uses the most recent snapshot. For CQ runs, it uses one of the most recent snapshot as its base but then also cherry-picks the CL’s under test into itself. In both CQ and postsubmit, the whole build is controlled by a parent builder called Orchestrator. This builder is responsible for starting child builders to produce OS test images and then, later, scheduling hardware and VM testing. This is represented by this diagram:


In the diagram above, the Orchestrator creates the child builders to create all OS images. Some of those builders analyze the patched in changes (in CQ only) and decide that they do not have the change in their Portage graph; these are the Irrelevant Builds. For the remaining Relevant Builds, they upload their finished OS test images to Google Storage. Their build process looks something like this simplified diagram:


When the Orchestrator notices that all child builds have been completed, it will schedule all hardware testing and VM testings at once. The Orchestrator will wait for up to 20 hours for hardware test capacity in the lab to become available. In most cases, the wait isn't this long.

Finally, when everything is done, the exit status (success/failure) of the Orchestrator is based on whether or not the builds, HW tests, and VM tests all succeeded.

What is history-aware scheduling in CQ and how does it relate to sheriffing?

The CQ Orchestrator runs will only run those parts of the build that didn't succeed last time. Thus, if a particular builder was broken and it is fixed in ToT by the sheriff rolling back a breakage, the next time the user runs their change through the CQ, the Orchestrator will skip everything that succeeded and only run the failed bits.

What are some related builders that I might hear about?

  • What is a Canary Build?
    • An official build (with a unique version) is prepared and validated by canary builders a few times a day.
    • The Canary controller decides success/failure for a given run. You mostly shouldn't look at secondaries, except to see failure details. The controller should link to appropriate secondaries.
  • What is ASAN bot?
  • A toolchain builder is failing. What do I do?
    • These builders test the next version of the toolchain and are being sheriff'd by the toolchain team. Not your problem.

How do I deal with build failures?

When Sheriffs encounter build failures on the public Chromium OS builder, they should follow the following process:

  1. See if you could fix it by reverting a recent patch
    • If the build or test failure has a likely culprit, perform the revert and cc the author.
    • Infrastructure build failure (repo sync hang, archive build failure, build_packages etc)? Contact a build deputy oncall!
    • For any other infrastructure failures, contact a Triage Oncall!
  2. Watch the next build to make sure it completes cleanly.
    • Sheriffs are responsible for watching builds and making sure that people are working on making them green.
    • If there‘s any red on the dashboard, the Sheriffs should be watching it closely to make sure that the issues are being fixed. If there’s not, the Sheriffs should be working to improve the sheriffability of the tree

What bugs do I file, and how do I assign them?

  • If a test fails, or a specific component fails to compile, file a bug against that component normally. Assign it to an owner for that component.
  • If you believe there's an issue with the builder infrastructure, contact the oncall as above or file a bug at go/cros-triage-bug.
  • If you believe there's an issue with the lab or hardware test infrastructure, you can file a bug following the instructions at go/chromeos-lab-bug

Ahh, the tree is green. I can go back to my work, right?

Wrong! When the tree is green, it's a great time to start investigating and fixing all the niggling things that make it hard to sheriff the tree.

  • Is there some red-herring of an error message? Grep the source tree to find out where it's coming from and make it go away.
  • Some nice-to-have piece of info to surface in the UI? Talk to Infrastructure Deputy and figure out how to make that happen.
  • Some test that you wish was written and run in suite:smoke? Go write it!
  • Has the tree been red a lot today? Get started on your postmortem!
  • Still looking for stuff to do? Try flipping through the Gardening Tasks. Feel free to hack on and take any of them!
  • Run across a build-related term or acronym and didn‘t know what it meant? Check the glossary and add it if it’s missing.

What should I do if I see a commit-queue run that I know is doomed?

If there is a commit queue run that is known to be doomed due to a bad CL and you know which CL is bad, you can manually blame the bad CL to spare the innocent CLs from being rejected. Go to the Gerrit review page of the bad CL and set verify to -1. CQ will recognize the gesture and reject only the bad CL(s).

If the commit queue run has encountered infrastructure flake and is doomed, most of the time CQ will not reject any CLs (with chromite CLs being the exception).

In other cases where it is not necessary to wait for the full results of the run, you can save developer time and hassle by aborting the current CQ run.

How do I deal with a broken Chrome?

If a bug in Chrome does not get caught by PUpr CQ run, you should first engage with the Chrome gardener. They are responsible for helping to find and fix or revert the Chrome change that caused the problem.

If the Chrome bug is serious enough to be causing failures on the canaries or the CQ, you should work with the gardener to revert the Chrome uprev:

  • Make sure there‘s a bug filed for the problem you’re dealing with. Be sure to cc the gardeners. You'll need the bug number for the next step; call it $BUG.
  • Ask the gardener to revert the chrome uprev according to their instructions in the guide: go/cros-gardening

How can I revert a commit?

If you've found a commit that broke the build, you can revert it using these steps:

  • Find the Gerrit link for the change in question
    • Gerrit lists recently merged changes. View the change in question.
    • In some cases (like the PFQ), you can see links to the CL that made it into the build straight from the waterfall.
  • Click the “Revert Change” button and fill in the dialog box.
    • The dialog box includes some stock info, but you should add on to it. E.g. append a sentence such as: This broke the tree (xxx package on xxx bot).
  • You are not done. This has created an Open change for you go find and submit it.
    • Add the author of the change as a reviewer of the revert, but push without an LGTM from the reviewer (just approve yourself and push).

How do I bypass OWNERS enforcement to submit a fix urgently?

Add the line “Exempt-From-Owner-Approval:” to your commit message along with a brief explanation of why you are bypassing OWNERS. Your CL will still require a Code-Review +2 vote from someone other than yourself: Ask for a reviewer in CrOS Oncall if you don't have someone handy.

Help with specific failure categories

How do I investigate VMTest failures?

There are several common reasons why the VMTests fail. First pull up the stdio link for the VMTest stage, and then check for each of the possibilities below.

Auto-test test failed

Once you‘ve got the VMTest stage’s stdio output loaded, search for ‘Total PASS’. This will get you to the Autotest test summary. You'll see something like

Total PASS: 29/33 (87%)

Assuming the number is less than 100%, there was a failure in one of the autotests. Scroll backwards from ‘Total PASS’ to identify the specific test (or tests) that failed. You'll see something like this:

/tmp/cbuildbotXXXXXX/test_harness/all/SimpleTestUpdateAndVerify/<...>/login_CryptohomeMounted            [  FAILED  ]
/tmp/cbuildbotXXXXXX/test_harness/all/SimpleTestUpdateAndVerify/<...>/login_CryptohomeMounted              FAIL: Unhandled JSONInterfaceError: Automation call {'username': '', 'password': 'perfsmurf', 'command': 'Login'} received empty response.  Perhaps the browser crashed.

In this case Chrome failed to login for any of the 3 reasons: 1) could not find network, 2) could not get online, 3) could not show webui login prompt. Look for chrome log in /var/log/chrome/chrome, or find someone who works on UI.

(If you‘re annoyed by the long string before the test name, please consider working on, when you’re gardening.)

Crash detected

Sometimes, all the tests will pass, but one or more processes crashed during the test. Not all crashes are failures, as some tests are intended to test the crash system. However, if a problematic crash is detected, the VMTest stdio output will have something like this:

Crashes detected during testing:
chrome sig 11

If there is a crash, proceed to the next section, “How to find test results/crash reports”?

ASAN error detected

The x86-generic-asan and amd64-generic-asan builders instrument some programs (e.g. Chrome) with code to detect memory access errors. When an error is detected, ASAN prints error information, and terminates the process. Similarly to crashes, it is possible for all tests to pass even though a process terminated.

If Chrome triggers an ASAN error report, you'll see the message “Asan crash occurred. See asan_logs in Artifacts”. As suggested in that message, you should download “asan_logs”. See the next section, “How to find test results/crash reports” for details on how to download those logs.

Note: in addition to Chrome, several system daemons (e.g. shill) are built with ASAN instrumentation. However, we don‘t yet bubble up those errors in the test report. See if you’re interested in fixing that.

ssh failed

The test framework needs to log in to the VM, in order to do things like execute tests, and download log files. Sometimes, this fails. In these cases, we have no logs to work from, so we need the VM disk image instead.

You‘ll know that you’re in this case if you see messages like this:

Connection timed out during banner exchange
Connection timed out during banner exchange
Failed to connect to virtual machine, retrying ...

When this happens, look in the build report for “vm_disk” and “vm_image” links. These should be right after the “stdio” link. For example, if you're looking at the build report for “lumpy nightly chrome PFQ Build #3977” :

  1. VMTest (attempt 1) VMTest (attempt 1) ( 19 mins, 5 secs )
    1. stdio
    2. vm_disk: failed_SimpleTestUpdateAndVerify_1_update_chromiumos_qemu_disk.bin.8Fet3d.tar
    3. vm_memory: failed_SimpleTestUpdateAndVerify_1_update_chromiumos_qemu_mem.bin.TgS3dn.tar
    4. vm_test_results_1.tgz
  2. VMTest (attempt 2) VMTest (attempt 2) ( 36 mins, 29 secs )
    1. stdio
    2. vm_disk: failed_SimpleTestUpdateAndVerify_1_update_chromiumos_qemu_disk.bin.uvzLqx.tar
    3. vm_memory: failed_SimpleTestUpdateAndVerify_1_update_chromiumos_qemu_mem.bin.6lSD2q.tar
    4. vm_test_results_2.tgz

Download the disk and memory images, and then resume the VM using kvm on your workstation.

$ tar --use-compress-program=pbzip2 -xf \

$ tar --use-compress-program=pbzip2 -xf \

$ cros_start_vm \
    --image_path=chromiumos_qemu_disk.bin.8Fet3d \

You should now have a VM which has resumed at exactly the point where the test framework determined that it could not connect.

Note that, at this time, we don‘t have an easy way to mount the VM filesystem, without booting it. If you’re interested in improving that, please see

For more information about troubleshooting VMs, see how to run Chrome OS image under VMs.

How to find test results/crash reports?

The complete results from VMTest runs are available on googlestorage, by clicking the [ Artifacts ] link in-line on the waterfall display in the report section:


From there, you should see a file named chrome.*.dmp.txt that contains the crash log. Example


If you see a stack trace here, search for issues with a similar call stack and add the google storage link, or file a new issue.

How do I extract stack traces manually?

Normally, you should never need to extract stack traces manually, because they will be included in the Artifacts link, as described above. However, if you need to, here's how:

  1. Download and extract the test_results.tgz file from the artifact (above), and find the breakpad .dmp file.
  2. Find the build associated with your crash and download the file debug.tgz
    1. Generally the debug.tgz in the artifacts should be sufficient
    2. For official builds, see go/chromeos-images
    3. TODO: examples of how to find this for cautotest and trybot(?) failures
  3. Untar (tar xzf) this in a directory under the chroot, e.g. ~/chromeos/src/scripts/debug
  4. From inside the chroot, run the following: minidump_stackwalk [filename].dmp debug/breakpad > stack.txt 2>/dev/null
  5. stack.txt should now contain a call stack!

If you successfully retrieve a stack trace, search for issues with a similar call stack and add the google storage link, or file a new issue. Note that in addition to breakpad dmp files, the test_results.tgz also has raw linux core files. These can be loaded into gdb and can often produce better stack traces than minidump_stackwalk (eg. expanding all inlined frames).

A builder appears to be down (purple). What do I do?

Probably nothing. Most of the time, when a child builder is purple, that just indicates that it is already tracked by the CI oncaller. Try pinging the CI oncaller on go/crosoncall.

platform_ToolchainOptions autotest is failing. What do I do?

This test searches through all ELF binaries on the image and identifies binaries that have not been compiled with the correct hardened flags.

To find out what test is failing and how, look at the *.DEBUG log in your autotest directory. Do a grep -A10 FAILED *.DEBUG. You will find something like this:

05/08 09:23:33 DEBUG|platform_T:0083| Test Executable Stack 2 failures, 1 in allowlist, 1 in filtered, 0 new passes FAILED:
05/08 09:23:33 ERROR|platform_T:0250| Test Executable Stack 1 failures

This means that the test called “Executable Stack” reported 2 failures, there is one entry in the allowlist of this test, and after filtering the failures through the allowlist, there is still a file. The name of the file is /path/to/binary.

The “new passes” indicate files that are in the allowlist but passed this time.

To find the owner who wrote this test, do a git blame on this file: and grep for the test name (“Executable Stack” in this case).

Find the change that added the new binary that fails the test, or changed compiler options for a package such that the test now fails, and revert it. File an issue on the author with the failure log, and CC the owner of the test (found by git blame above).

Who should I contact regarding ARC++ issues?

Visit go/arc++docs and see the Contact Information section.

What do I do when I see a NotEnoughDutsError?

When you see an error like:

NotEnoughDutsError: Not enough DUTs for board: <board>, pool: <pool>; required: 4, found: 3, suite: au, build: <build>
Will return from run_suite with status: INFRA_FAILURE

Contact the on duty Deputy to balance the pools, Sheriffs are responsible to ensure that there aren't bad changes that continue to take out DUTs, however Deputies are responsible for DUT allocation.

Other handy links to information: