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Mock D-Bus objects

Project Description


With this program/Python library you can easily create mock objects on D-Bus. This is useful for writing tests for software which talks to D-Bus services such as upower, systemd, logind, gnome-session or others, and it is hard (or impossible without root privileges) to set the state of the real services to what you expect in your tests.

Suppose you want to write tests for gnome-settings-daemon’s power plugin, or another program that talks to upower. You want to verify that after the configured idle time the program suspends the machine. So your program calls org.freedesktop.UPower.Suspend() on the system D-Bus.

Now, your test suite should not really talk to the actual system D-Bus and the real upower; a make check that suspends your machine will not be considered very friendly by most people, and if you want to run this in continuous integration test servers or package build environments, chances are that your process does not have the privilege to suspend, or there is no system bus or upower to begin with. Likewise, there is no way for an user process to forcefully set the system/seat idle flag in logind, so your tests cannot set up the expected test environment on the real daemon.

That’s where mock objects come into play: They look like the real API (or at least the parts that you actually need), but they do not actually do anything (or only some action that you specify yourself). You can configure their state, behaviour and responses as you like in your test, without making any assumptions about the real system status.

When using a local system/session bus, you can do unit or integration testing without needing root privileges or disturbing a running system. The Python API offers some convenience functions like start_session_bus() and start_system_bus() for this, in a DBusTestCase class (subclass of the standard unittest.TestCase).

You can use this with any programming language, as you can run the mocker as a normal program. The actual setup of the mock (adding objects, methods, properties, and signals) all happen via D-Bus methods on the org.freedesktop.DBus.Mock interface. You just don’t have the convenience D-Bus launch API that way.

Simple example in Python

Picking up the above example about mocking upower’s Suspend() method, this is how you would set up a mock upower in your test case:

import dbus
import dbusmock

class TestMyProgram(dbusmock.DBusTestCase):
    def setUpClass(klass):
        klass.dbus_con = klass.get_dbus(system_bus=True)

    def setUp(self):
        self.p_mock = self.spawn_server('org.freedesktop.UPower',

        # Get a proxy for the UPower object's Mock interface
        self.dbus_upower_mock = dbus.Interface(self.dbus_con.get_object(
            'org.freedesktop.UPower', '/org/freedesktop/UPower'),

        self.dbus_upower_mock.AddMethod('', 'Suspend', '', '', '')

    def tearDown(self):

    def test_suspend_on_idle(self):
        # run your program in a way that should trigger one suspend call

        # now check the log that we got one Suspend() call
        self.assertRegex(self.p_mock.stdout.readline(), b'^[0-9.]+ Suspend$')

Let’s walk through:

  • We derive our tests from dbusmock.DBusTestCase instead of unittest.TestCase directly, to make use of the convenience API to start a local system bus.

  • setUpClass() starts a local system bus, and makes a connection to it available to all methods as dbus_con. True means that we connect to the system bus, not the session bus. We can use the same bus for all tests, so doing this once in setUpClass() instead of setUp() is enough.

  • setUp() spawns the mock D-Bus server process for an initial /org/freedesktop/UPower object with an org.freedesktop.UPower D-Bus interface on the system bus. We capture its stdout to be able to verify that methods were called.

    We then call org.freedesktop.DBus.Mock.AddMethod() to add a Suspend() method to our new object to the default D-Bus interface. This will not do anything (except log its call to stdout). It takes no input arguments, returns nothing, and does not run any custom code.

  • tearDown() stops our mock D-Bus server again. We do this so that each test case has a fresh and clean upower instance, but of course you can also set up everything in setUpClass() if tests do not interfere with each other on setting up the mock.

  • test_suspend_on_idle() is the actual test case. It needs to run your program in a way that should trigger one suspend call. Your program will try to call Suspend(), but as that’s now being served by our mock instead of upower, there will not be any actual machine suspend. Our mock process will log the method call together with a time stamp; you can use the latter for doing timing related tests, but we just ignore it here.

Simple example from shell

We use the actual session bus for this example. You can use dbus-launch to start a private one as well if you want, but that is not part of the actual mocking.

So let’s start a mock at the D-Bus name com.example.Foo with an initial “main” object on path /, with the main D-Bus interface com.example.Foo.Manager:

python3 -m dbusmock com.example.Foo / com.example.Foo.Manager

On another terminal, let’s first see what it does:

gdbus introspect --session -d com.example.Foo -o /

You’ll see that it supports the standard D-Bus Introspectable and Properties interfaces, as well as the org.freedesktop.DBus.Mock interface for controlling the mock, but no “real” functionality yet. So let’s add a method:

gdbus call --session -d com.example.Foo -o / -m org.freedesktop.DBus.Mock.AddMethod '' Ping '' '' ''

Now you can see the new method in introspect, and call it:

gdbus call --session -d com.example.Foo -o / -m com.example.Foo.Manager.Ping

The mock process in the other terminal will log the method call with a time stamp, and you’ll see something like 1348832614.970 Ping.

Now add another method with two int arguments and a return value and call it:

gdbus call --session -d com.example.Foo -o / -m org.freedesktop.DBus.Mock.AddMethod \
    '' Add 'ii' 'i' 'ret = args[0] + args[1]'
gdbus call --session -d com.example.Foo -o / -m com.example.Foo.Manager.Add 2 3

This will print (5,) as expected (remember that the return value is always a tuple), and again the mock process will log the Add method call.

You can do the same operations in e. g. d-feet or any other D-Bus language binding.


Usually you want to verify which methods have been called on the mock with which arguments. There are three ways to do that:

  • By default, the mock process writes the call log to stdout.
  • You can call the mock process with the -l/--logfile argument, or specify a log file object in the spawn_server() method if you are using Python.
  • You can use the GetCalls(), GetMethodCalls() and ClearCalls() methods on the org.freedesktop.DBus.Mock D-BUS interface to get an array of tuples describing the calls.


Some D-BUS services are commonly used in test suites, such as UPower or NetworkManager. python-dbusmock provides “templates” which set up the common structure of these services (their main objects, properties, and methods) so that you do not need to carry around this common code, and only need to set up the particular properties and specific D-BUS objects that you need. These templates can be parameterized for common customizations, and they can provide additional convenience methods on the org.freedesktop.DBus.Mock interface to provide more abstract functionality like “add a battery”.

For example, for starting a server with the “upower” template in Python you can run

(self.p_mock, self.obj_upower) = self.spawn_server_template(
    'upower', {'OnBattery': True}, stdout=subprocess.PIPE)

or load a template into an already running server with the AddTemplate() method; this is particularly useful if you are not using Python:

python3 -m dbusmock --system org.freedesktop.UPower /org/freedesktop/UPower org.freedesktop.UPower

gdbus call --system -d org.freedesktop.UPower -o /org/freedesktop/UPower -m org.freedesktop.DBus.Mock.AddTemplate 'upower' '{"OnBattery": <true>}'

This creates all expected properties such as DaemonVersion, and changes the default for one of them (OnBattery) through the (optional) parameters dict.

If you do not need to specify parameters, you can do this in a simpler way with

python3 -m dbusmock --template upower

The template does not create any devices by default. You can add some with the template’s convenience methods like

ac_path = self.dbusmock.AddAC('mock_AC', 'Mock AC')
bt_path = self.dbusmock.AddChargingBattery('mock_BAT', 'Mock Battery', 30.0, 1200)

or calling AddObject() yourself with the desired properties, of course.

If you want to contribute a template, look at dbusmock/templates/ for a real-life implementation. You can copy dbusmock/templates/SKELETON to your new template file name and replace “CHANGEME” with the actual code/values.

More Examples

Have a look at the test suite for two real-live use cases:

  • tests/ simulates upowerd, in a more complete way than in above example and using the upower template. It verifies that upower --dump is convinced that it’s talking to upower.
  • tests/ simulates ConsoleKit and verifies that ck-list-sessions works with the mock.
  • tests/ runs a mock on the session bus and exercises all available functionality, such as adding additional objects, properties, multiple methods, input arguments, return values, code in methods, raising signals, and introspection.


The dbusmock module has extensive documentation built in, which you can read with e. g. pydoc3 dbusmock.

pydoc3 dbusmock.DBusMockObject shows the D-Bus API of the mock object, i. e. methods like AddObject(), AddMethod() etc. which are used to set up your mock object.

pydoc3 dbusmock.DBusTestCase shows the convenience Python API for writing test cases with local private session/system buses and launching the server.

pydoc3 dbusmock.templates shows all available templates.

pydoc3 dbusmock.templates.NAME shows the documentation and available parameters for the NAME template.

python3 -m dbusmock --help shows the arguments and options for running the mock server as a program.


python-dbusmock is hosted on github:


For feature requests and bugs, please file reports at one of:
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