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VTS Testing with Debug Ramdisk

In Android 10, the generic system image (GSI) used to run CTS-on-GSI/VTS compliance testing changes from userdebug to user build type, because GSI is release signed. However, the adb root command that gives a host root permissions to the Android device under test isn't available in a user build. This is a problem because VTS requires adb root to run.

The debug ramdisk is introduced in Android 10 to make adb root possible, if the device is unlocked. This simplifies the testing flow by reusing the same user build GSI system.img. For STS setup, using another userdebug OEM system.img is still required. The following table shows images and build types for the compliance tests in Android 10.

Test suite Test with Build Debug ramdisk adb root? Android 9 -> 10 build variant change
CTS OEM’s system user N N No change
CTS-on-GSI GSI user N N

userdebug -> user GSI

release signed

STS OEM’s system userdebug N Y New in Q
VTS GSI user Y Y

userdebug -> user GSI

release signed

Prerequisites for using a debug ramdisk

The debug ramdisk is provided by the OEM running the compliance tests. It shouldn't be release signed, and it can only be used if the device is unlocked.

The debug ramdisk won't be generated or used for upgrading devices with:

  • skip_initramfs in kernel command line

When you use boot-debug.img, system sepolicy (plat_sepolicy.cil) gets loaded from boot-debug.img. Please always incorporate new sepolicy changes from android{N}-qpr{n}-release branches to rebuild boot-debug.img, for example, android10-qpr1-release. Otherwise, the device might not be able to boot a new GSI image. The GSI branch switches its upstream to android{N}-qpr{n}-release quarterly.

AOSP changes

The debug ramdisk changes in AOSP are identified by the debug_ramdisk hashtag.

These additional image files are generated under the build folder out/target/product/$(TARGET_DEVICE):

  • ramdisk-debug.img
  • boot-debug.img

When boot-debug.img is flashed onto the /boot partition of the device, the userdebug version of the system sepolicy file and an additional property file, adb_debug.prop, are loaded. This allows adb root with the user build system.img (either GSI’s or the OEM’s).