Don't let failures spread over your suite with process-based tests isolation

This post is part of the rust testing tricks series.

Being able to precisely control what failures in underlying systems occur and at what time can be really useful in achieving a fast and stable test suite. While I am a big proponent of dependency inversion and being able to control dependencies via the explicit injection points in your API, sometimes it’s impractical to do so. This is where fail can help us immensely, providing an escape hatch for situations like those as it allows to inject failures into previously defined failure points.

It comes at a price though. If you would mix your other unit tests and tests activating fail points you will notice some unexpected failures in the test suite. As cargo test runs tests in parallel by default, the tests activating a fail point can interfere with another test that did not want that fail point active at all that is ran at the same time. The crate authors recommend running all of the tests using fail points in a separate executable and using FailScenario to serialise test execution.

There is another way, that I found simpler for the way I write tests, if you allow for yet another helper crate. We can run each test in a separate process, effectively isolating it from the rest, stopping failures from spreading.

Let’s take a look at an example from bakare - my experiment in writing a backup system.


fail = "0.4"

two-rusty-forks = "0.4.0"

failpoints = [ "fail/failpoints" ]

/// this function is called from `Lock::lock()`
fn create_lock_file(lock_id: Uuid, index_directory: &VfsPath) -> Result<()> {
    fail_point!("create-lock-file", |e: Option<String>| Err(anyhow!(e.unwrap())));
    let mut file = lock_file_path.create_file()?;

mod must {
    use super::Lock;
    use anyhow::Result;

    /// only import the macro when `failpoints` feature is enabled
    #[cfg(feature = "failpoints")]
    use two_rusty_forks::rusty_fork_test;
    use vfs::{MemoryFS, VfsPath};

    /// this is a normal unit test
    /// we don't want for it to be affected by the fail points being active
    fn be_released_when_dropped() -> Result<()> {
        let temp_dir: VfsPath = MemoryFS::new().into();
            let _lock = Lock::lock(&temp_dir);
        let entries = temp_dir.read_dir()?.count();

        assert_eq!(entries, 0);

    #[cfg(feature = "failpoints")]
    rusty_fork_test! { /// use the macro to create a separate process for this test
        fn be_able_to_lock_when_creating_lock_file_fails_sometimes() {
            /// activate the fail point
            fail::cfg("create-lock-file", "90%10*return(some lock file creation error)->off")
            let path = MemoryFS::new().into();

            let lock = Lock::lock(&path).unwrap();


See also