Running PETSc Tests

Quick start with the tests

For testing builds, the general invocation from the PETSC_DIR is:

make [-j <n>] -f gmakefile test PETSC_ARCH=<PETSC_ARCH>

For testing ./configure that used the --prefix option, the general invocation from the installation (prefix) directory is:

make [-j <n>] -f share/petsc/examples/gmakefile test

For a full list of options, use

make -f gmakefile help-test

Understanding test output and more information

As discussed in Running PETSc Tests, users should set PETSC_DIR and PETSC_ARCH before running the tests, or can provide them on the command line as below.

To check if the libraries are working do:


A comprehensive set of tests can be run with



make [-j <n>] -f gmakefile test PETSC_ARCH=<PETSC_ARCH>

Depending on your machine’s configuration running the full test suite (above) can take from a few minutes to a couple hours. Note that currently we do not have a mechanism for automatically running the test suite on batch computer systems except to obtain an interactive compute node (via the batch system) and run the tests on that node (this assumes that the compilers are available on the interactive compute nodes.

The test reporting system classifies them according to the Test Anywhere Protocal (TAP) 11. In brief, the categories are

  • ok The test passed.

  • not ok The test failed.

  • not ok #SKIP The test was skipped, usually because build requirements were not met (for example, an external solver library was required, but PETSc was not ./configure for that library.) compiled against it).

  • ok #TODO The test is under development by the developers.

The tests are a series of shell scripts, generated by information contained within the test source file, that are invoked by the makefile system. The tests are run in ${PETSC_DIR}/${PETSC_ARCH}/tests with the same directory as the source tree underneath. For testing installs, the default location is ${PREFIX_DIR}/tests but this can be changed with the TESTDIR location. (See Directory Structure). A label is used to denote where it can be found within the source tree. For example, test vec_vec_tutorials-ex6, which can be run e.g. with

make -f gmakefile test search='vec_vec_tutorials-ex6'

(see the discussion of search below), denotes the shell script:


These shell scripts can be run independently in those directories, and take arguments to show the commands run, change arguments, etc. Use the -h option to the shell script to see these options.

Often, you want to run only a subset of tests. Our makefiles use gmake’s wildcard syntax. In this syntax, % is a wild card character and is passed in using the search argument. Two wildcard characters cannot be used in a search, so the searchin argument is used to provide the equivalent of %pattern% search. The default examples have default arguments, and we often wish to test examples with various arguments; we use the argsearch argument for these searches. Like searchin, it does not use wildcards, but rather whether the string is within the arguments.

Some examples are:

make -f gmakefile test search='ts%'                      # Run all TS examples
make -f gmakefile test searchin='tutorials'              # Run all tutorials
make -f gmakefile test search='ts%' searchin='tutorials' # Run all TS tutorials
make -f gmakefile test argsearch='cuda'                  # Run examples with cuda in arguments
make -f gmakefile test test-fail='1'
make -f gmakefile test query='requires' queryval='*MPI_PROCESS_SHARED_MEMORY*'

It is useful before invoking the tests to see what targets will be run. The print-test target helps with this:

make -f gmakefile print-test argsearch='cuda'

To see all of the test targets which would be run, this command can be used:

make -f gmakefile print-test

For testing in install directories, some examples are:

cd ${PREFIX_DIR}; make -f share/petsc/examples/gmakefile.test test TESTDIR=mytests


cd ${PREFIX_DIR}/share/petsc/examples; make -f gmakefile test TESTDIR=$PWD/mytests

where the latter is needed to make have it run in the local directory instead of $PREFIX_DIR.

To learn more about the test system details, one can look at the the PETSc developers documentation.