Reverse Regression Testing

These instructions will allow you to run a regression test between recent versions of Wine and very old ones (which often have trouble compiling and/or running on modern systems). Only basic knowledge of Linux is needed, as this guide should be very straightforward. If you don't know a command, Google and the man pages are your friend :-).

Sometimes old programs don't compile on new systems. Sometimes old programs compile but don't work on new systems. But what if you know that the old version of the program worked better than new one for a particular task? This is called a regression. The fastest way to find the cause of the regression is to do regression testing. But the usual regression testing procedure will fail to work in some cases: you cannot compile (or run) and test older versions!

This guide is based on real-world examples, so below you will find only compile-time problems. But reverse regression testing also allows you to find and solve run-time problems as well. For example, on Ubuntu 7.04 versions of WINE before around 0.9.24 compile successfully but crash on startup with segmentation fault. This of course prevents some people from doing regression tests. But using the instructions in this guide everyone should be able to solve such problems by doing reverse regression test(s).

Let's examine a real-world example. We want to run a regression test between wine-0.9 and wine-0.9.40. But we cannot compile wine-0.9 on a modern system! Does that means we cannot do the regression test? No, we can. But we need to do a reverse regression test first . What does "reverse" mean? It means that if wine compiles or runs successfully - this is a "bad" revision. If it doesn't compile or fail to run - this is a "good" revision.

Step 0 (optional)

This is a preliminary optional step. The system used by the author of this howto was Debian Etch at the time of writing (if you are using something else you may face with additional problems but you should be able to solve all of them by following instructions in this howto). We know that 0.9 doesn't compile on it. Let's try to compile other old revisions - maybe they will work? For example:

git-reset wine-0.9.10
git checkout -f

Then try to compile:

./configure --verbose && make depend && make

Great! Now we know that wine-0.9.10 can be successfully compiled on Debian Etch. So we now know that wine-0.9.10 compiles fine on Debian Etch but wine-0.9 doesn't. This helps us pinpoint where we need to start the reverse regression testing, and ultimately reducing the testing that has to be done.

Step 1

First, we need to start git-bisect:

git-bisect start

Then we need to tell GIT that our current version (0.9.10) compiles:

git-bisect bad wine-0.9.10

Then we need to choose the version that we cannot compile:

git-bisect good wine-0.9

Step 2

Now try to compile:

./configure --verbose && make depend && make

If at the end of compilation you see:

Wine build complete.

Then the current revision compiles cleanly and you need to tell git this:

make distclean; git-checkout -f && git-bisect bad

Clean up commands "make distclean" and "git-checkout -f" are for sanity (without them fatal errors may occur). If you get a fatal error when trying to run git-bisect see troubleshooting section at the end of this guide. If you don't see "Wine build complete." then compilation was stopped because of errors. In this case you need to execute:

make distclean; git-checkout -f && git-bisect good

Be sure to note the error that occurs before compiling the next version. If multiple compile errors may appear, you will need to run _separate_ reverse regression tests for each.

Step 3

Go to step 2. Repeat this until you find which patch is causing wine not to compile (make sure to remember its SHA id) and execute:

git-bisect reset


When trying to compile 0.9 first compilation error in my case was:

gcc -m32 -c -I. -I. -I../../include -I../../include  -DINCLUDEDIR="\"/usr/local/include/wine\"" -Wall ...
lex.yy.o lex.yy.c
lex.yy.c:2610: error: expected ';', ',' or ')' before numeric constant
make.bin[2]: *** [lex.yy.o] Error 1
make.bin[2]: *** Waiting for unfinished jobs....

First compile error may be different on your system of course. It is irrelevant what error(s) exactly you get but it is important to make sure to do reverse regression test against one particular error only and ignore all other possible errors (if any). If you followed above steps carefully and your system is similar to mine you will find that this error is caused by lack of commit 69dcbaaf93a65820a28fe2485b6d15a90f423899 in 0.9 (if your system is different your result may be different too - that's OK). Using qgit it is easy to find this patch. Select it in the tree, press Ctrl+P to open separate window with patch content. Now press right mouse button and choose "Select All". Then press Ctrl+C to copy whole patch. With your favorite editor create file 0.9-wrc-parser.diff and paste the patch into. Now go to step 0 and search for a cause of next problem. When you face with "expected ';', ',' or ')' before numeric constant" error again at step 2 execute:

patch -p1 < 0.9-wrc-parser.diff
./configure --verbose && make depend && make

And try to compile again. If you receive another error, go back to step 2. Each iteration of reverse regression testing will give us yet another patch. At the end we will have all patches necessary to compile the ancient wine-0.9 on your modern system.

Sometimes patches won't apply to old revisions. Usually this isn't a big problem. For example, I have incorporated following patches to a file 0.9-gdi-freetype.diff: 603d21cbc4fc8b915248cd3a6f90b02f721980c4, 0458a5e38dcf7d03a0eedd1e63922c1eb4e37cb9. But we cannot apply this fix to 0.9 directly. How do we solve this problem? Execute this to choose wine-0.9 revision first:

git-reset wine-0.9
git checkout -f

Then try to apply the patch:

patch -p1 < 0.9-gdi-freetype.diff

Fortunately, just 1 out of 6 hunks failed to apply. We now have freetype.c.rej. Open it. As you can see it is very easy to fix this by editing freetype.c accordingly. Save the result to 0.9-gdi-freetype-old.diff by executing:

git-diff > 0.9-gdi-freetype-old.diff

At the end of the whole process I have four patches: 0.9-kernel-time.diff, 0.9-gdi-freetype.diff, 0.9-gdi-freetype-old.diff and 0.9-wrc-parser.diff. As you remember, our original goal was to do regression test between 0.9.40 and 0.9. So what now? Just proceed with regression test as usual. When you get compile error just apply the corresponding patches and try to compile again. It may be confusing to have multiple versions of patches to fix similar errors (0.9-gdi-freetype.diff and 0.9-gdi-freetype-old.diff in this case). But actually it isn't too hard to guess what you need. For example if you about 0.9.5 revision you need 0.9-gdi-freetype.diff", if you about 0.9 revision you need 0.9-gdi-freetype-old.diff. Of course it is possible to apply wrong version of patch by mistake - in this case just execute:

git-checkout -f

And then apply the correct patch(es).

Alternative method

If you need to compile very old WINE version sometimes it is possible to use a faster alternative to reverse regression testing: fix the code yourself. But this can be faster only if you know exactly what's wrong, how to fix it and there are few lines to change. For example, this is exactly how I created the patch 0.9-kernel-time.diff: by fixing the code manually (I just replaced old function TIME_!ClockTimeToFileTime with newer version of it taken from recent time.c). However, if you don't know exact cause or there too many lines to change reverse regression testing is the best and fastest option.


If you get error like this:

fatal: Untracked working tree file 'dlls/advapi32/tests/.gitignore'
would be overwritten by merge.

Then try to run these commands:

git-clean -d
git-checkout -f

Above commands may also help in other cases. Please note that these two commands will erase all untracked files in WINE source directory and revert all non-committed changes to source files. This is typical and a very useful clean up procedure so it is good practice to avoid non-autogenerated untracked files in the directory with git-tree.

# FIXME: cleanup formatting freetype.c:166:15: error: 'FT_MulFix' undeclared here (not in a function) freetype.c:166:28: warning: type defaults to 'int' in declaration of 'pFT_MulFix' freetype.c: In function 'WineEngGetOutlineTextMetrics': freetype.c:5142:51: error: called object 'pFT_MulFix' is not a function

git show de251e1c62651d8160b340a4fb9d0f9834a8e538 | patch -p1

This page was last edited on 12 March 2016, at 21:11.