Testing/Behat Testing/Error & Solutions

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Errors when using Behat

This is a place where you can log errors and come to fix yours. If you log an error please be sure to put down how you fixed it

Permission issues

If you are getting a permission denied:

  • [WAR] 7e (/var/www/maharacode/mahara/external/vendor/behat/gherkin/src/Behat/Gherkin/Cache/FileCache.php:88) file_put_contents(/tmp/behat_gherkin_cache/412/7852eac8b52e46380d27aa7d2702426c.feature.cache): failed to open stream: Permission denied

Make sure the following files are owned by the apache user:

  • sitedata (directory in your $cfg->behat_dataroot)
  • /tmp/behat_rerun_cache
  • /tmp/behat_gherkin_cache

If not, update their permissions:

  • sudo chown -R www-data.www-data /tmp/behat_gherkin_cache
  • sudo chown -R www-data.www-data /tmp/behat_rerun_cache
  • sudo chown -R www-data.www-data sitedata (directory in your $cfg->behat_dataroot)
  • For Ubuntu, apache runs with user www-data
  • For Centos, apache runs with user apache

Selenium issues

Server not started

When Selenium upgrades causing firefox to try run headless and not open firefox. It can also throw an error when you try run the test. It will mention something about the Selenium server not being able to start up.


  • First try the 'Shut down incorrectly' steps below - if you have had behat running successfully in the past
  • Go to the script: mahara/test/behat/mahara_behat.sh script.
  • Update the version (around lines number 95 and 96 of the sh file):
  • Save the jar file to /mahara/test/behat/
  • Auto update by running:
sudo -u www-data ./test/behat/mahara_behat.sh rundebug @tag

To find out if Selenium has updated to a new version, go to http://www.seleniumhq.org/download/ and see version of the Selenium Server is available.

You might need to do some more debugging. But this information should point you in the right direction.

Shut down incorrectly

Another bug with Selenium is if you are using Moodle or running Behat from two diff versions of Mahara is sometimes the Selenium Server doesn't shut down properly. You will know this is happening if you've run the tests and it says at the end "Selenium server not not shut down" or it just wont say that's it has shut down. It will be written the same way it does when Selenium starts up when you run the tests.

Eg: Composer installing... PHP server running, Selenium running. At the end of the tests running it says the same thing.. PHP server shut down... Selenium shut down.

When you try to run the tests it may also say "Selenium server is not running or could not be run" or something similar. This is because there are 2 running and it's getting confused


Temporary fix, go to the terminal and type

ps aux | grep selenium

And then kill the process ID. This is the first number after your username.


<username>@<computername>:~$ ps aux | grep selenium
<username> 6590 0.0 0.0 12960 936 pts/26 S+ 10:31 0:00 grep --color=auto selenium

So the command will be

 kill 6590

However don't kill the one that say's --color=auto selenium you should kill the other one.

Then run the command again to make sure that the server was killed

 ps aux | grep selenium 

This will just kill selenium running so you can finish what you are working on and run the test properly.

Once you have done that, if you are a dev take a look into the /test/behat/mahara_behat.sh script because there will be something up with the way that selenium is shutting down. Also check that this issue isn't happening with Jenkins. However, keep in mind that Jenkins runs headless.

If you aren't a dev then go tell one of the devs that it's not shutting down properly. Or you can do this by writing a bug on Launchpad here: https://bugs.launchpad.net/mahara/+filebug In the summary write Behat: tell them what the issue is here. Just so they can tell instantly it's a Behat issue you are having.

Firefox issues

Can't log in

Firefox upgrades and when you run the tests Firefox wont pop up with the Mahara instance in it. Another issue is the window opening but Behat not being able to run the test properly and it will say that you cant log in. It will run the first log in steps (say as an admin) but it wont pass the next step (to verify that the admin can be logged in) and if you actually look at Behat running (requires you to not be running it headless) then you will see it's not actually logging in.




 sudo apt-get purge firefox
 wget https://launchpad.net/~ubuntu-mozilla-security/+archive/ubuntu/ppa/+build/8220812/+files/firefox_42.0+build2-0ubuntu0.14.04.1_amd64.deb
 sudo dpkg -i firefox_42.0+build2-0ubuntu0.14.04.1_amd64.deb
 sudo apt-mark hold firefox

Follow instructions in link above to unhold and update.


Generally Firefox and Selenium are heavily entwined. When Firefox breaks, go to http://www.seleniumhq.org/download/ and download the newer version of Selenium. When one upgarades it's usually best to upgrade the other at the same time so they are compatible.

If all else fails then revert back to the previous stable version.

I change directory to downloads and run this in a separate terminal. This requires you to have the previous version of Firefox downloaded and still sitting in downloads. java -jar selenium-server-standalone-2.44.0.jar -Dwebdriver.firefox.bin=/home/jinelleb/Downloads/firefox/firefox

PHP server issues

Server not closing

Same as the Selenium server issues, you can get errors with the PHP server not closing or running multiple servers. You can tell this because it will give a error message when you try run the tests. It will generally throw an error with the key words "localhost 8000" or "PHP server".

There could be multiple things causing this issue including the config file not point to the right host name.


Grep search for php server and kill the process ID.

Go to your mahara config.php and read the Behat section and make sure that everything is pointing to the right place.

If these fail then if you aren't a dev file a bug here https://bugs.launchpad.net/mahara/+filebug with the summary Behat: description of what's happening when you try run tests.

If you are a dev then you need to look into the mahara_behat script and check the php server is closing properly. A way to debug is to run a test locally and check if the php server is starting up and shutting down properly. It will say in the terminal if you run "rundebug". I think it runs with just run as well.

Composer issue


Originally composer wasn't pegged. Now it has been you can often get a yellow error when you run Behat that mentions composer dependencies being out of date. It will say "Warning: The lock file is not up to date with the latest changes in composer.json. You may be getting outdated dependencies".


  • Run update to update them.


  • Delete the lock file (mahara/external/composerlock.php) and then run Behat again.

Debugg steps that are failing

Test keeps failing

When you are trying to write a test but the test keeps failing on a step and you don't know why it's failing. You need to be able to find a way to hold the window open so you can see what's happening.


For a start when you run the test run using the debug option instead of just "run" this will give you a more human readable output. The step that is failing will go red. EG:

./test/behat/mahara_behat.sh rundebug @youtagthatyouwanttorun

To hold the window open so you can add a step right before the one breaking saying And I wait "30" seconds. Another way of holding the window open for a longer period of time is to click on the terminal in the and hit ctrl+z this will pause the test from running right where it is. You then need to type fg to bring the test back into the foreground and let it keep running till the end.

Stopping a test

A test has started running and you need to stop it in the middle of it.


Press ctrl+c this will stop it from running

Dropping only the behat_ tables

If you want to drop your behat_ tables but not the whole database, first connect to the db:

 psql mahara-master

When you see the db prompt


you can run this command:

  _tbl text;
 FOR _tbl  IN
   SELECT quote_ident(table_schema) || '.'
       || quote_ident(table_name)      -- escape identifier and schema-qualify!
   FROM   information_schema.tables
   WHERE  table_name LIKE 'behat_' || '%'  -- your table name prefix
   AND    table_schema NOT LIKE 'pg_%'     -- exclude system schemas
  'DROP TABLE ' || _tbl || ' CASCADE';

If you just want to see what it will delete before running it change these two lines




Once you've run the commands, use Ctrl D to exit the db.

Having trouble getting you Behat testing started up again

Sometimes if Behat crashing in an unexpected way it can be a bit of a bother to get it started up again.

If you follow these 3 steps it should fire up again.

  1. Kill any still running Selenium processes
  2. Drop the behat prefixed tables from the database
  3. Delete the 'behat' subdirectory of the $cfg->behat_dataroot directory

Doing things in this order should make sure that localhost ports in use are released, that the behat site is not installed and that the behat dataroot flag that indicates the behat system is setup is also removed - so your system is set back to the point before you ever ran behat for the first time.

Tests failing erratically since Chrome/Chromium upgrade to version 61

Note: Behat and selenium were upgraded in May 2018 and so now latest version of Chrome/Chromium should work fine again

If you have suddenly noticed tests are failing to find visible items on the page sometime in September 2017, you're not alone! The latest stable version of Chrome/Chromium, 61.0.3163.100, is playing havoc with webdriver's ability to find stuff. Hopefully this issue will be fixed in a subsequent release, but in the meantime you can work around it by installing the previous stable version.

First of all confirm whether the problem you are having is related to this issue.

For Chromium, run:

 chromium-browser --version

or for chrome, run:

 google-chrome --version

If the answer is:

Chromium 61.0.3163.100


Google Chrome 61.0.3163.100

it looks like this is your problem. The previous stable version of Chrome/Chromium is 60.0.3112.113.

If you don't have a copy of the old version saved already, you will need to search for it online. Try searching for your OS name with Chrome/Chromium 60.0.3112.113.

For Chromium on Ubuntu, I can help you.

For 14.04, go to:


And for 16.04, go to:


And for 17.04, go to:


You'll need to download two packages:

chromium-browser_<version><your OS>_amd64.deb


chromium-codecs-ffmpeg_<version><your OS>_amd64.deb


chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra_<version><your OS>_amd64.deb

(If you don't know which codecs you need, just grab the 'extra' version.)

You've downloaded the file/s. Now what?

Back on your system, you'll need to uninstall the current version before you try to install the older version. In Ubuntu:

 sudo apt-get remove chromium-browser
 sudo apt-get remove chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra
 sudo apt-get remove chromium-codecs-ffmpeg

(One of the codec packages will tell you it wasn't installed in the first place. Don't worry about that.)

Chrome doesn't have a separate codecs package, so for Chrome:

 sudo apt-get remove google-chrome

The easiest way to install is to go to the directory you downloaded the packages in and double click to install. For Chromium, you will need to install the codec package before the browser package or you'll get an error.

Installing old packages

Go to the directory where you downloaded them and install the codecs first:

sudo dpkg -i chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra_60.0.3112.113-0ubuntu0.16.04.1298_amd64.deb

Then the browser:

sudo dpkg -i chromium-browser_60.0.3112.113-0ubuntu0.16.04.1298_amd64.deb

Now you should be good to run your tests again without things breaking... (fingers crossed).

Stopping Chrome/Chromium auto-updating and undoing all your hard work

You'll need to lock the version you just installed, to save having to do this all again soon. I can help with Ubuntu:

For Chromium:

 sudo apt-mark hold chromium-browser

and, depending on the codecs you installed,

sudo apt-mark hold chromium-codecs-ffmpeg-extra


sudo apt-mark hold chromium-codecs-ffmpeg

For Chrome:

 sudo apt-mark hold google-chrome