replace os.system with subprocess.call - add a timeout option in the mix
[tests.git] / system / TestPlc.py
index 4cbc558..c378af6 100644 (file)
@@ -7,11 +7,11 @@ import os, os.path
 import traceback
 import socket
 from datetime import datetime, timedelta
-from types import StringTypes
 
 import utils
+from Completer import Completer, CompleterTask
 from TestSite import TestSite
-from TestNode import TestNode
+from TestNode import TestNode, CompleterTaskNodeSsh
 from TestUser import TestUser
 from TestKey import TestKey
 from TestSlice import TestSlice
@@ -21,62 +21,94 @@ from TestSsh import TestSsh
 from TestApiserver import TestApiserver
 from TestAuthSfa import TestAuthSfa
 from PlcapiUrlScanner import PlcapiUrlScanner
-from Completer import Completer, CompleterTask
+
+from TestBonding import TestBonding
+
+has_sfa_cache_filename="sfa-cache"
 
 # step methods must take (self) and return a boolean (options is a member of the class)
 
-def standby(minutes,dry_run):
-    utils.header('Entering StandBy for %d mn'%minutes)
+def standby(minutes, dry_run):
+    utils.header('Entering StandBy for {:d} mn'.format(minutes))
     if dry_run:
-        print 'dry_run'
+        print('dry_run')
     else:
         time.sleep(60*minutes)
     return True
 
-def standby_generic (func):
+def standby_generic(func):
     def actual(self):
-        minutes=int(func.__name__.split("_")[1])
-        return standby(minutes,self.options.dry_run)
+        minutes = int(func.__name__.split("_")[1])
+        return standby(minutes, self.options.dry_run)
     return actual
 
-def node_mapper (method):
-    def actual(self,*args, **kwds):
-        overall=True
+def node_mapper(method):
+    def map_on_nodes(self, *args, **kwds):
+        overall = True
         node_method = TestNode.__dict__[method.__name__]
         for test_node in self.all_nodes():
-            if not node_method(test_node, *args, **kwds): overall=False
+            if not node_method(test_node, *args, **kwds):
+                overall=False
         return overall
+    # maintain __name__ for ignore_result
+    map_on_nodes.__name__ = method.__name__
     # restore the doc text
-    actual.__doc__=TestNode.__dict__[method.__name__].__doc__
-    return actual
+    map_on_nodes.__doc__ = TestNode.__dict__[method.__name__].__doc__
+    return map_on_nodes
 
-def slice_mapper (method):
-    def actual(self):
-        overall=True
+def slice_mapper(method):
+    def map_on_slices(self):
+        overall = True
         slice_method = TestSlice.__dict__[method.__name__]
         for slice_spec in self.plc_spec['slices']:
             site_spec = self.locate_site (slice_spec['sitename'])
             test_site = TestSite(self,site_spec)
-            test_slice=TestSlice(self,test_site,slice_spec)
-            if not slice_method(test_slice,self.options): overall=False
+            test_slice = TestSlice(self,test_site,slice_spec)
+            if not slice_method(test_slice, self.options):
+                overall=False
         return overall
+    # maintain __name__ for ignore_result
+    map_on_slices.__name__ = method.__name__
     # restore the doc text
-    actual.__doc__=TestSlice.__dict__[method.__name__].__doc__
-    return actual
+    map_on_slices.__doc__ = TestSlice.__dict__[method.__name__].__doc__
+    return map_on_slices
+
+def bonding_redirector(method):
+    bonding_name = method.__name__.replace('bonding_', '')
+    def redirect(self):
+        bonding_method = TestBonding.__dict__[bonding_name]
+        return bonding_method(self.test_bonding)
+    # maintain __name__ for ignore_result
+    redirect.__name__ = method.__name__
+    # restore the doc text
+    redirect.__doc__ = TestBonding.__dict__[bonding_name].__doc__
+    return redirect
+
+# run a step but return True so that we can go on
+def ignore_result(method):
+    def ignoring(self):
+        # ssh_slice_ignore->ssh_slice
+        ref_name = method.__name__.replace('_ignore', '').replace('force_', '')
+        ref_method = TestPlc.__dict__[ref_name]
+        result = ref_method(self)
+        print("Actual (but ignored) result for {ref_name} is {result}".format(**locals()))
+        return Ignored(result)
+    name = method.__name__.replace('_ignore', '').replace('force_', '')
+    ignoring.__name__ = name
+    ignoring.__doc__ = "ignored version of " + name
+    return ignoring
 
 # a variant that expects the TestSlice method to return a list of CompleterTasks that
 # are then merged into a single Completer run to avoid wating for all the slices
 # esp. useful when a test fails of course
 # because we need to pass arguments we use a class instead..
-class slice_mapper__tasks (object):
+class slice_mapper__tasks(object):
     # could not get this to work with named arguments
-    def __init__ (self,timeout_minutes,silent_minutes,period_seconds):
-        print "self",self
-        print "timeout_minutes,silent_minutes,period_seconds",timeout_minutes,silent_minutes,period_seconds
-        self.timeout=timedelta(minutes=timeout_minutes)
-        self.silent=timedelta(minutes=silent_minutes)
-        self.period=timedelta(seconds=period_seconds)
-    def __call__ (self, method):
+    def __init__(self, timeout_minutes, silent_minutes, period_seconds):
+        self.timeout = timedelta(minutes = timeout_minutes)
+        self.silent = timedelta(minutes = silent_minutes)
+        self.period = timedelta(seconds = period_seconds)
+    def __call__(self, method):
         decorator_self=self
         # compute augmented method name
         method_name = method.__name__ + "__tasks"
@@ -86,327 +118,372 @@ class slice_mapper__tasks (object):
             tasks=[]
             for slice_spec in self.plc_spec['slices']:
                 site_spec = self.locate_site (slice_spec['sitename'])
-                test_site = TestSite(self,site_spec)
-                test_slice=TestSlice(self,test_site,slice_spec)
+                test_site = TestSite(self, site_spec)
+                test_slice = TestSlice(self, test_site, slice_spec)
                 tasks += slice_method (test_slice, self.options)
-            return Completer (tasks).run (decorator_self.timeout, decorator_self.silent, decorator_self.period)
+            return Completer (tasks, message=method.__name__).\
+                run(decorator_self.timeout, decorator_self.silent, decorator_self.period)
         # restore the doc text from the TestSlice method even if a bit odd
+        wrappee.__name__ = method.__name__
         wrappee.__doc__ = slice_method.__doc__
         return wrappee
 
-def auth_sfa_mapper (method):
+def auth_sfa_mapper(method):
     def actual(self):
-        overall=True
+        overall = True
         auth_method = TestAuthSfa.__dict__[method.__name__]
         for auth_spec in self.plc_spec['sfa']['auth_sfa_specs']:
-            test_auth=TestAuthSfa(self,auth_spec)
-            if not auth_method(test_auth,self.options): overall=False
+            test_auth = TestAuthSfa(self, auth_spec)
+            if not auth_method(test_auth, self.options):
+                overall=False
         return overall
     # restore the doc text
-    actual.__doc__=TestAuthSfa.__dict__[method.__name__].__doc__
+    actual.__doc__ = TestAuthSfa.__dict__[method.__name__].__doc__
     return actual
 
-SEP='<sep>'
-SEPSFA='<sep_sfa>'
+class Ignored:
+    def __init__(self, result):
+        self.result = result
+
+SEP = '<sep>'
+SEPSFA = '<sep_sfa>'
 
 class TestPlc:
 
     default_steps = [
         'show', SEP,
-        'vs_delete','timestamp_vs','vs_create', SEP,
-#        'plc_install', 'mod_python', 'plc_configure', 'plc_start', SEP,
+        'plcvm_delete','plcvm_timestamp','plcvm_create', SEP,
         'plc_install', 'plc_configure', 'plc_start', SEP,
         'keys_fetch', 'keys_store', 'keys_clear_known_hosts', SEP,
         'plcapi_urls','speed_up_slices', SEP,
         'initscripts', 'sites', 'nodes', 'slices', 'nodegroups', 'leases', SEP,
 # slices created under plcsh interactively seem to be fine but these ones don't have the tags
 # keep this our of the way for now
-#        'check_vsys_defaults', SEP,
+        'check_vsys_defaults_ignore', SEP,
+# run this first off so it's easier to re-run on another qemu box        
+        'qemu_kill_mine', SEP,
         'nodestate_reinstall', 'qemu_local_init','bootcd', 'qemu_local_config', SEP,
-        'qemu_kill_mine','qemu_clean_mine', 'qemu_export', 'qemu_start', 'timestamp_qemu', SEP,
+        'qemu_clean_mine', 'qemu_export', 'qemu_start', 'qemu_timestamp', SEP,
         'sfa_install_all', 'sfa_configure', 'cross_sfa_configure', 'sfa_start', 'sfa_import', SEPSFA,
-        'sfi_configure@1', 'sfa_add_site@1','sfa_add_pi@1', SEPSFA,
-        'sfa_add_user@1', 'sfa_update_user@1', 'sfa_add_slice@1', 'sfa_renew_slice@1', SEPSFA,
-        'sfa_discover@1', 'sfa_create_slice@1', 'sfa_check_slice_plc@1', 'sfa_update_slice@1', SEPSFA,
-        'sfi_list@1', 'sfi_show@1', 'sfa_utest@1', SEPSFA,
+        'sfi_configure@1', 'sfa_register_site@1','sfa_register_pi@1', SEPSFA,
+        'sfa_register_user@1', 'sfa_update_user@1', 'sfa_register_slice@1', 'sfa_renew_slice@1', SEPSFA,
+        'sfa_remove_user_from_slice@1','sfi_show_slice_researchers@1', 
+        'sfa_insert_user_in_slice@1','sfi_show_slice_researchers@1', SEPSFA,
+        'sfa_discover@1', 'sfa_rspec@1', 'sfa_allocate@1', 'sfa_provision@1', SEPSFA,
+        'sfa_check_slice_plc@1', 'sfa_update_slice@1', SEPSFA,
+        'sfi_list@1', 'sfi_show_site@1', 'sfa_utest@1', SEPSFA,
         # we used to run plcsh_stress_test, and then ssh_node_debug and ssh_node_boot
         # but as the stress test might take a while, we sometimes missed the debug mode..
-        'ssh_node_debug@1', 'plcsh_stress_test@1', SEP,
-        'ssh_node_boot@1', 'node_bmlogs@1', 'ssh_slice', 'ssh_slice_basics', 'check_initscripts', SEP,
-        'ssh_slice_sfa@1', 'sfa_delete_slice@1', 'sfa_delete_user@1', SEPSFA,
+        'probe_kvm_iptables',
+        'ping_node', 'ssh_node_debug', 'plcsh_stress_test@1', SEP,
+        'ssh_node_boot', 'node_bmlogs', 'ssh_slice', 'ssh_slice_basics', 'check_initscripts', SEP,
+        'ssh_slice_sfa@1', SEPSFA, 
+        'sfa_rspec_empty@1', 'sfa_allocate_empty@1', 'sfa_provision_empty@1','sfa_check_slice_plc_empty@1', SEPSFA,
+        'sfa_delete_slice@1', 'sfa_delete_user@1', SEPSFA,
         'cross_check_tcp@1', 'check_system_slice', SEP,
-        'empty_slices', 'ssh_slice_off', 'fill_slices', SEP,
-        'force_gather_logs', SEP,
+        # for inspecting the slice while it runs the first time
+        #'fail',
+        # check slices are turned off properly
+        'empty_slices', 'ssh_slice_off', 'slice_fs_deleted_ignore', SEP,
+        # check they are properly re-created with the same name
+        'fill_slices', 'ssh_slice_again', SEP,
+        'gather_logs_force', SEP,
         ]
     other_steps = [ 
-        'export', 'show_boxes', SEP,
-        'check_hooks', 'plc_stop', 'vs_start', 'vs_stop', SEP,
+        'export', 'show_boxes', 'super_speed_up_slices', SEP,
+        'check_hooks', 'plc_stop', 'plcvm_start', 'plcvm_stop', SEP,
         'delete_initscripts', 'delete_nodegroups','delete_all_sites', SEP,
         'delete_sites', 'delete_nodes', 'delete_slices', 'keys_clean', SEP,
         'delete_leases', 'list_leases', SEP,
         'populate', SEP,
         'nodestate_show','nodestate_safeboot','nodestate_boot', SEP,
         'qemu_list_all', 'qemu_list_mine', 'qemu_kill_all', SEP,
-       'sfa_install_core', 'sfa_install_sfatables', 'sfa_install_plc', 'sfa_install_client', SEPSFA,
+        'sfa_install_core', 'sfa_install_sfatables', 'sfa_install_plc', 'sfa_install_client', SEPSFA,
         'sfa_plcclean', 'sfa_dbclean', 'sfa_stop','sfa_uninstall', 'sfi_clean', SEPSFA,
+        'sfa_get_expires', SEPSFA,
         'plc_db_dump' , 'plc_db_restore', SEP,
         'check_netflow','check_drl', SEP,
-        'debug_nodemanager', SEP,
-        'standby_1_through_20',SEP,
+        'debug_nodemanager', 'slice_fs_present', SEP,
+        'standby_1_through_20','yes','no',SEP,
+        ]
+    bonding_steps = [
+        'bonding_init_partial',
+        'bonding_add_yum',
+        'bonding_install_rpms', SEP,
         ]
 
     @staticmethod
-    def printable_steps (list):
-        single_line=" ".join(list)+" "
-        return single_line.replace(" "+SEP+" "," \\\n").replace(" "+SEPSFA+" "," \\\n")
+    def printable_steps(list):
+        single_line = " ".join(list) + " "
+        return single_line.replace(" "+SEP+" ", " \\\n").replace(" "+SEPSFA+" ", " \\\n")
     @staticmethod
-    def valid_step (step):
+    def valid_step(step):
         return step != SEP and step != SEPSFA
 
     # turn off the sfa-related steps when build has skipped SFA
     # this was originally for centos5 but is still valid
     # for up to f12 as recent SFAs with sqlalchemy won't build before f14
     @staticmethod
-    def check_whether_build_has_sfa (rpms_url):
-        utils.header ("Checking if build provides SFA package...")
+    def _has_sfa_cached(rpms_url):
+        if os.path.isfile(has_sfa_cache_filename):
+            with open(has_sfa_cache_filename) as cache:
+                cached = cache.read() == "yes"
+            utils.header("build provides SFA (cached):{}".format(cached))
+            return cached
         # warning, we're now building 'sface' so let's be a bit more picky
-        retcod=os.system ("curl --silent %s/ | grep -q sfa-"%rpms_url)
         # full builds are expected to return with 0 here
-        if retcod==0:
+        utils.header("Checking if build provides SFA package...")
+        retcod = utils.system("curl --silent {}/ | grep -q sfa-".format(rpms_url)) == 0
+        encoded = 'yes' if retcod else 'no'
+        with open(has_sfa_cache_filename,'w') as cache:
+            cache.write(encoded)
+        return retcod
+        
+    @staticmethod
+    def check_whether_build_has_sfa(rpms_url):
+        has_sfa = TestPlc._has_sfa_cached(rpms_url)
+        if has_sfa:
             utils.header("build does provide SFA")
         else:
             # move all steps containing 'sfa' from default_steps to other_steps
             utils.header("SFA package not found - removing steps with sfa or sfi")
-            sfa_steps= [ step for step in TestPlc.default_steps if step.find('sfa')>=0 or step.find("sfi")>=0 ]
+            sfa_steps = [ step for step in TestPlc.default_steps
+                          if step.find('sfa') >= 0 or step.find("sfi") >= 0 ]
             TestPlc.other_steps += sfa_steps
-            for step in sfa_steps: TestPlc.default_steps.remove(step)
-
-    def __init__ (self,plc_spec,options):
-       self.plc_spec=plc_spec
-        self.options=options
-       self.test_ssh=TestSsh(self.plc_spec['host_box'],self.options.buildname)
-        self.vserverip=plc_spec['vserverip']
-        self.vservername=plc_spec['vservername']
-        self.url="https://%s:443/PLCAPI/"%plc_spec['vserverip']
-       self.apiserver=TestApiserver(self.url,options.dry_run)
-        (self.ssh_node_boot_timeout,self.ssh_node_boot_silent)=plc_spec['ssh_node_boot_timers']
-        (self.ssh_node_debug_timeout,self.ssh_node_debug_silent)=plc_spec['ssh_node_debug_timers']
+            for step in sfa_steps:
+                TestPlc.default_steps.remove(step)
+
+    def __init__(self, plc_spec, options):
+        self.plc_spec = plc_spec
+        self.options = options
+        self.test_ssh = TestSsh(self.plc_spec['host_box'], self.options.buildname)
+        self.vserverip = plc_spec['vserverip']
+        self.vservername = plc_spec['vservername']
+        self.url = "https://{}:443/PLCAPI/".format(plc_spec['vserverip'])
+        self.apiserver = TestApiserver(self.url, options.dry_run)
+        (self.ssh_node_boot_timeout, self.ssh_node_boot_silent) = plc_spec['ssh_node_boot_timers']
+        (self.ssh_node_debug_timeout, self.ssh_node_debug_silent) = plc_spec['ssh_node_debug_timers']
         
-    def has_addresses_api (self):
+    def has_addresses_api(self):
         return self.apiserver.has_method('AddIpAddress')
 
     def name(self):
-        name=self.plc_spec['name']
-        return "%s.%s"%(name,self.vservername)
+        name = self.plc_spec['name']
+        return "{}.{}".format(name,self.vservername)
 
     def hostname(self):
         return self.plc_spec['host_box']
 
-    def is_local (self):
+    def is_local(self):
         return self.test_ssh.is_local()
 
     # define the API methods on this object through xmlrpc
     # would help, but not strictly necessary
-    def connect (self):
-       pass
+    def connect(self):
+        pass
 
-    def actual_command_in_guest (self,command):
-        return self.test_ssh.actual_command(self.host_to_guest(command),dry_run=self.options.dry_run)
+    def actual_command_in_guest(self,command, backslash=False):
+        raw1 = self.host_to_guest(command)
+        raw2 = self.test_ssh.actual_command(raw1, dry_run=self.options.dry_run, backslash=backslash)
+        return raw2
     
-    def start_guest (self):
-      return utils.system(self.test_ssh.actual_command(self.start_guest_in_host(),dry_run=self.options.dry_run))
+    def start_guest(self):
+      return utils.system(self.test_ssh.actual_command(self.start_guest_in_host(),
+                                                       dry_run=self.options.dry_run))
     
-    def stop_guest (self):
-      return utils.system(self.test_ssh.actual_command(self.stop_guest_in_host(),dry_run=self.options.dry_run))
+    def stop_guest(self):
+      return utils.system(self.test_ssh.actual_command(self.stop_guest_in_host(),
+                                                       dry_run=self.options.dry_run))
     
-    def run_in_guest (self,command):
-        return utils.system(self.actual_command_in_guest(command))
+    def run_in_guest(self, command, backslash=False):
+        raw = self.actual_command_in_guest(command, backslash)
+        return utils.system(raw)
     
-    def run_in_host (self,command):
+    def run_in_host(self,command):
         return self.test_ssh.run_in_buildname(command, dry_run=self.options.dry_run)
 
+    # backslashing turned out so awful at some point that I've turned off auto-backslashing
+    # see e.g. plc_start esp. the version for f14
     #command gets run in the plc's vm
-    def host_to_guest(self,command):
-        if self.options.plcs_use_lxc:
-            return "ssh -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null %s %s"%(self.vserverip,command)
+    def host_to_guest(self, command):
+        vservername = self.vservername
+        personality = self.options.personality
+        raw = "{personality} virsh -c lxc:/// lxc-enter-namespace {vservername}".format(**locals())
+        # f14 still needs some extra help
+        if self.options.fcdistro == 'f14':
+            raw +=" -- /usr/bin/env PATH=/bin:/sbin:/usr/bin:/usr/sbin {command}".format(**locals())
         else:
-            return "vserver %s exec %s"%(self.vservername,command)
+            raw +=" -- /usr/bin/env {command}".format(**locals())
+        return raw
     
+    # this /vservers thing is legacy...
     def vm_root_in_host(self):
-        if self.options.plcs_use_lxc:
-            return "/vservers/%s/rootfs/"%(self.vservername)
-        else:
-            return "/vservers/%s"%(self.vservername)
+        return "/vservers/{}/".format(self.vservername)
 
-    def vm_timestamp_path (self):
-        if self.options.plcs_use_lxc:
-            return "/vservers/%s/%s.timestamp"%(self.vservername,self.vservername)
-        else:
-            return "/vservers/%s.timestamp"%(self.vservername)
+    def vm_timestamp_path(self):
+        return "/vservers/{}/{}.timestamp".format(self.vservername, self.vservername)
 
     #start/stop the vserver
     def start_guest_in_host(self):
-        if self.options.plcs_use_lxc:
-            return "virsh -c lxc:// start %s"%(self.vservername)
-        else:
-            return "vserver %s start"%(self.vservername)
+        return "virsh -c lxc:/// start {}".format(self.vservername)
     
     def stop_guest_in_host(self):
-        if self.options.plcs_use_lxc:
-            return "virsh -c lxc:// destroy %s"%(self.vservername)
-        else:
-            return "vserver %s stop"%(self.vservername)
+        return "virsh -c lxc:/// destroy {}".format(self.vservername)
     
     # xxx quick n dirty
-    def run_in_guest_piped (self,local,remote):
-        return utils.system(local+" | "+self.test_ssh.actual_command(self.host_to_guest(remote),keep_stdin=True))
+    def run_in_guest_piped(self,local,remote):
+        return utils.system(local+" | "+self.test_ssh.actual_command(self.host_to_guest(remote),
+                                                                     keep_stdin = True))
 
-    def yum_check_installed (self, rpms):
-        if isinstance (rpms, list): 
+    def yum_check_installed(self, rpms):
+        if isinstance(rpms, list): 
             rpms=" ".join(rpms)
-        return self.run_in_guest("rpm -q %s"%rpms)==0
+        return self.run_in_guest("rpm -q {}".format(rpms)) == 0
         
     # does a yum install in the vs, ignore yum retcod, check with rpm
-    def yum_install (self, rpms):
-        if isinstance (rpms, list): 
+    def yum_install(self, rpms):
+        if isinstance(rpms, list): 
             rpms=" ".join(rpms)
-        self.run_in_guest("yum -y install %s"%rpms)
+        self.run_in_guest("yum -y install {}".format(rpms))
         # yum-complete-transaction comes with yum-utils, that is in vtest.pkgs
         self.run_in_guest("yum-complete-transaction -y")
-        return self.yum_check_installed (rpms)
+        return self.yum_check_installed(rpms)
 
-    def auth_root (self):
-       return {'Username':self.plc_spec['PLC_ROOT_USER'],
-               'AuthMethod':'password',
-               'AuthString':self.plc_spec['PLC_ROOT_PASSWORD'],
-                'Role' : self.plc_spec['role']
+    def auth_root(self):
+        return {'Username'   : self.plc_spec['settings']['PLC_ROOT_USER'],
+                'AuthMethod' : 'password',
+                'AuthString' : self.plc_spec['settings']['PLC_ROOT_PASSWORD'],
+                'Role'       : self.plc_spec['role'],
                 }
-    def locate_site (self,sitename):
+    
+    def locate_site(self,sitename):
         for site in self.plc_spec['sites']:
             if site['site_fields']['name'] == sitename:
                 return site
             if site['site_fields']['login_base'] == sitename:
                 return site
-        raise Exception,"Cannot locate site %s"%sitename
+        raise Exception("Cannot locate site {}".format(sitename))
         
-    def locate_node (self,nodename):
+    def locate_node(self, nodename):
         for site in self.plc_spec['sites']:
             for node in site['nodes']:
                 if node['name'] == nodename:
-                    return (site,node)
-        raise Exception,"Cannot locate node %s"%nodename
+                    return site, node
+        raise Exception("Cannot locate node {}".format(nodename))
         
-    def locate_hostname (self,hostname):
+    def locate_hostname(self, hostname):
         for site in self.plc_spec['sites']:
             for node in site['nodes']:
                 if node['node_fields']['hostname'] == hostname:
-                    return (site,node)
-        raise Exception,"Cannot locate hostname %s"%hostname
+                    return(site, node)
+        raise Exception("Cannot locate hostname {}".format(hostname))
         
-    def locate_key (self,key_name):
+    def locate_key(self, key_name):
         for key in self.plc_spec['keys']:
             if key['key_name'] == key_name:
                 return key
-        raise Exception,"Cannot locate key %s"%key_name
+        raise Exception("Cannot locate key {}".format(key_name))
 
-    def locate_private_key_from_key_names (self, key_names):
+    def locate_private_key_from_key_names(self, key_names):
         # locate the first avail. key
-        found=False
+        found = False
         for key_name in key_names:
-            key_spec=self.locate_key(key_name)
-            test_key=TestKey(self,key_spec)
-            publickey=test_key.publicpath()
-            privatekey=test_key.privatepath()
+            key_spec = self.locate_key(key_name)
+            test_key = TestKey(self,key_spec)
+            publickey = test_key.publicpath()
+            privatekey = test_key.privatepath()
             if os.path.isfile(publickey) and os.path.isfile(privatekey):
-                found=True
-        if found: return privatekey
-        else:     return None
+                found = True
+        if found:
+            return privatekey
+        else:
+            return None
 
-    def locate_slice (self, slicename):
+    def locate_slice(self, slicename):
         for slice in self.plc_spec['slices']:
             if slice['slice_fields']['name'] == slicename:
                 return slice
-        raise Exception,"Cannot locate slice %s"%slicename
+        raise Exception("Cannot locate slice {}".format(slicename))
 
-    def all_sliver_objs (self):
-        result=[]
+    def all_sliver_objs(self):
+        result = []
         for slice_spec in self.plc_spec['slices']:
             slicename = slice_spec['slice_fields']['name']
             for nodename in slice_spec['nodenames']:
-                result.append(self.locate_sliver_obj (nodename,slicename))
+                result.append(self.locate_sliver_obj(nodename, slicename))
         return result
 
-    def locate_sliver_obj (self,nodename,slicename):
-        (site,node) = self.locate_node(nodename)
-        slice = self.locate_slice (slicename)
+    def locate_sliver_obj(self, nodename, slicename):
+        site,node = self.locate_node(nodename)
+        slice = self.locate_slice(slicename)
         # build objects
-        test_site = TestSite (self, site)
-        test_node = TestNode (self, test_site,node)
+        test_site = TestSite(self, site)
+        test_node = TestNode(self, test_site, node)
         # xxx the slice site is assumed to be the node site - mhh - probably harmless
-        test_slice = TestSlice (self, test_site, slice)
-        return TestSliver (self, test_node, test_slice)
+        test_slice = TestSlice(self, test_site, slice)
+        return TestSliver(self, test_node, test_slice)
 
     def locate_first_node(self):
-        nodename=self.plc_spec['slices'][0]['nodenames'][0]
-        (site,node) = self.locate_node(nodename)
-        test_site = TestSite (self, site)
-        test_node = TestNode (self, test_site,node)
+        nodename = self.plc_spec['slices'][0]['nodenames'][0]
+        site,node = self.locate_node(nodename)
+        test_site = TestSite(self, site)
+        test_node = TestNode(self, test_site, node)
         return test_node
 
-    def locate_first_sliver (self):
-        slice_spec=self.plc_spec['slices'][0]
-        slicename=slice_spec['slice_fields']['name']
-        nodename=slice_spec['nodenames'][0]
+    def locate_first_sliver(self):
+        slice_spec = self.plc_spec['slices'][0]
+        slicename = slice_spec['slice_fields']['name']
+        nodename = slice_spec['nodenames'][0]
         return self.locate_sliver_obj(nodename,slicename)
 
     # all different hostboxes used in this plc
     def get_BoxNodes(self):
         # maps on sites and nodes, return [ (host_box,test_node) ]
-        tuples=[]
+        tuples = []
         for site_spec in self.plc_spec['sites']:
-            test_site = TestSite (self,site_spec)
+            test_site = TestSite(self,site_spec)
             for node_spec in site_spec['nodes']:
-                test_node = TestNode (self, test_site, node_spec)
+                test_node = TestNode(self, test_site, node_spec)
                 if not test_node.is_real():
                     tuples.append( (test_node.host_box(),test_node) )
         # transform into a dict { 'host_box' -> [ test_node .. ] }
         result = {}
         for (box,node) in tuples:
-            if not result.has_key(box):
-                result[box]=[node]
+            if box not in result:
+                result[box] = [node]
             else:
                 result[box].append(node)
         return result
                     
     # a step for checking this stuff
-    def show_boxes (self):
+    def show_boxes(self):
         'print summary of nodes location'
-        for (box,nodes) in self.get_BoxNodes().iteritems():
-            print box,":"," + ".join( [ node.name() for node in nodes ] )
+        for box,nodes in self.get_BoxNodes().items():
+            print(box,":"," + ".join( [ node.name() for node in nodes ] ))
         return True
 
     # make this a valid step
     def qemu_kill_all(self):
         'kill all qemu instances on the qemu boxes involved by this setup'
         # this is the brute force version, kill all qemus on that host box
-        for (box,nodes) in self.get_BoxNodes().iteritems():
+        for (box,nodes) in self.get_BoxNodes().items():
             # pass the first nodename, as we don't push template-qemu on testboxes
-            nodedir=nodes[0].nodedir()
-            TestBoxQemu(box,self.options.buildname).qemu_kill_all(nodedir)
+            nodedir = nodes[0].nodedir()
+            TestBoxQemu(box, self.options.buildname).qemu_kill_all(nodedir)
         return True
 
     # make this a valid step
     def qemu_list_all(self):
         'list all qemu instances on the qemu boxes involved by this setup'
-        for (box,nodes) in self.get_BoxNodes().iteritems():
+        for box,nodes in self.get_BoxNodes().items():
             # this is the brute force version, kill all qemus on that host box
-            TestBoxQemu(box,self.options.buildname).qemu_list_all()
+            TestBoxQemu(box, self.options.buildname).qemu_list_all()
         return True
 
     # kill only the qemus related to this test
     def qemu_list_mine(self):
         'list qemu instances for our nodes'
-        for (box,nodes) in self.get_BoxNodes().iteritems():
+        for (box,nodes) in self.get_BoxNodes().items():
             # the fine-grain version
             for node in nodes:
                 node.list_qemu()
@@ -415,7 +492,7 @@ class TestPlc:
     # kill only the qemus related to this test
     def qemu_clean_mine(self):
         'cleanup (rm -rf) qemu instances for our nodes'
-        for (box,nodes) in self.get_BoxNodes().iteritems():
+        for box,nodes in self.get_BoxNodes().items():
             # the fine-grain version
             for node in nodes:
                 node.qemu_clean()
@@ -424,219 +501,214 @@ class TestPlc:
     # kill only the right qemus
     def qemu_kill_mine(self):
         'kill the qemu instances for our nodes'
-        for (box,nodes) in self.get_BoxNodes().iteritems():
+        for box,nodes in self.get_BoxNodes().items():
             # the fine-grain version
             for node in nodes:
                 node.kill_qemu()
         return True
 
     #################### display config
-    def show (self):
+    def show(self):
         "show test configuration after localization"
-        self.show_pass (1)
-        self.show_pass (2)
+        self.show_pass(1)
+        self.show_pass(2)
         return True
 
     # uggly hack to make sure 'run export' only reports about the 1st plc 
     # to avoid confusion - also we use 'inri_slice1' in various aliases..
-    exported_id=1
-    def export (self):
+    exported_id = 1
+    def export(self):
         "print cut'n paste-able stuff to export env variables to your shell"
         # guess local domain from hostname
-        if TestPlc.exported_id>1: 
-            print "export GUESTHOSTNAME%d=%s"%(TestPlc.exported_id,self.plc_spec['vservername'])
+        if TestPlc.exported_id > 1: 
+            print("export GUESTHOSTNAME{:d}={}".format(TestPlc.exported_id, self.plc_spec['vservername']))
             return True
-        TestPlc.exported_id+=1
-        domain=socket.gethostname().split('.',1)[1]
-        fqdn="%s.%s"%(self.plc_spec['host_box'],domain)
-        print "export BUILD=%s"%self.options.buildname
-        if self.options.plcs_use_lxc:
-            print "export PLCHOSTLXC=%s"%fqdn
-        else:
-            print "export PLCHOSTVS=%s"%fqdn
-        print "export GUESTNAME=%s"%self.plc_spec['vservername']
-        vplcname=self.plc_spec['vservername'].split('-')[-1]
-        print "export GUESTHOSTNAME=%s.%s"%(vplcname,domain)
+        TestPlc.exported_id += 1
+        domain = socket.gethostname().split('.',1)[1]
+        fqdn   = "{}.{}".format(self.plc_spec['host_box'], domain)
+        print("export BUILD={}".format(self.options.buildname))
+        print("export PLCHOSTLXC={}".format(fqdn))
+        print("export GUESTNAME={}".format(self.plc_spec['vservername']))
+        vplcname = self.plc_spec['vservername'].split('-')[-1]
+        print("export GUESTHOSTNAME={}.{}".format(vplcname, domain))
         # find hostname of first node
-        (hostname,qemubox) = self.all_node_infos()[0]
-        print "export KVMHOST=%s.%s"%(qemubox,domain)
-        print "export NODE=%s"%(hostname)
+        hostname, qemubox = self.all_node_infos()[0]
+        print("export KVMHOST={}.{}".format(qemubox, domain))
+        print("export NODE={}".format(hostname))
         return True
 
     # entry point
-    always_display_keys=['PLC_WWW_HOST','nodes','sites',]
-    def show_pass (self,passno):
-        for (key,val) in self.plc_spec.iteritems():
-            if not self.options.verbose and key not in TestPlc.always_display_keys: continue
+    always_display_keys=['PLC_WWW_HOST', 'nodes', 'sites']
+    def show_pass(self, passno):
+        for (key,val) in self.plc_spec.items():
+            if not self.options.verbose and key not in TestPlc.always_display_keys:
+                continue
             if passno == 2:
                 if key == 'sites':
                     for site in val:
                         self.display_site_spec(site)
                         for node in site['nodes']:
                             self.display_node_spec(node)
-                elif key=='initscripts':
+                elif key == 'initscripts':
                     for initscript in val:
-                        self.display_initscript_spec (initscript)
-                elif key=='slices':
+                        self.display_initscript_spec(initscript)
+                elif key == 'slices':
                     for slice in val:
-                        self.display_slice_spec (slice)
-                elif key=='keys':
+                        self.display_slice_spec(slice)
+                elif key == 'keys':
                     for key in val:
-                        self.display_key_spec (key)
+                        self.display_key_spec(key)
             elif passno == 1:
-                if key not in ['sites','initscripts','slices','keys', 'sfa']:
-                    print '+   ',key,':',val
-
-    def display_site_spec (self,site):
-        print '+ ======== site',site['site_fields']['name']
-        for (k,v) in site.iteritems():
-            if not self.options.verbose and k not in TestPlc.always_display_keys: continue
-            if k=='nodes':
+                if key not in ['sites', 'initscripts', 'slices', 'keys']:
+                    print('+   ', key, ':', val)
+
+    def display_site_spec(self, site):
+        print('+ ======== site', site['site_fields']['name'])
+        for k,v in site.items():
+            if not self.options.verbose and k not in TestPlc.always_display_keys:
+                continue
+            if k == 'nodes':
                 if v: 
-                    print '+       ','nodes : ',
+                    print('+       ','nodes : ', end=' ')
                     for node in v:  
-                        print node['node_fields']['hostname'],'',
-                    print ''
-            elif k=='users':
+                        print(node['node_fields']['hostname'],'', end=' ')
+                    print('')
+            elif k == 'users':
                 if v: 
-                    print '+       users : ',
+                    print('+       users : ', end=' ')
                     for user in v:  
-                        print user['name'],'',
-                    print ''
+                        print(user['name'],'', end=' ')
+                    print('')
             elif k == 'site_fields':
-                print '+       login_base',':',v['login_base']
+                print('+       login_base', ':', v['login_base'])
             elif k == 'address_fields':
                 pass
             else:
-                print '+       ',
-                utils.pprint(k,v)
+                print('+       ', end=' ')
+                utils.pprint(k, v)
         
-    def display_initscript_spec (self,initscript):
-        print '+ ======== initscript',initscript['initscript_fields']['name']
+    def display_initscript_spec(self, initscript):
+        print('+ ======== initscript', initscript['initscript_fields']['name'])
 
-    def display_key_spec (self,key):
-        print '+ ======== key',key['key_name']
+    def display_key_spec(self, key):
+        print('+ ======== key', key['key_name'])
 
-    def display_slice_spec (self,slice):
-        print '+ ======== slice',slice['slice_fields']['name']
-        for (k,v) in slice.iteritems():
-            if k=='nodenames':
+    def display_slice_spec(self, slice):
+        print('+ ======== slice', slice['slice_fields']['name'])
+        for k,v in slice.items():
+            if k == 'nodenames':
                 if v: 
-                    print '+       nodes : ',
+                    print('+       nodes : ', end=' ')
                     for nodename in v:  
-                        print nodename,'',
-                    print ''
-            elif k=='usernames':
+                        print(nodename,'', end=' ')
+                    print('')
+            elif k == 'usernames':
                 if v: 
-                    print '+       users : ',
+                    print('+       users : ', end=' ')
                     for username in v:  
-                        print username,'',
-                    print ''
-            elif k=='slice_fields':
-                print '+       fields',':',
-                print 'max_nodes=',v['max_nodes'],
-                print ''
+                        print(username,'', end=' ')
+                    print('')
+            elif k == 'slice_fields':
+                print('+       fields',':', end=' ')
+                print('max_nodes=',v['max_nodes'], end=' ')
+                print('')
             else:
-                print '+       ',k,v
+                print('+       ',k,v)
 
-    def display_node_spec (self,node):
-        print "+           node=%s host_box=%s"%(node['name'],node['host_box']),
-        print "hostname=",node['node_fields']['hostname'],
-        print "ip=",node['interface_fields']['ip']
+    def display_node_spec(self, node):
+        print("+           node={} host_box={}".format(node['name'], node['host_box']), end=' ')
+        print("hostname=", node['node_fields']['hostname'], end=' ')
+        print("ip=", node['interface_fields']['ip'])
         if self.options.verbose:
-            utils.pprint("node details",node,depth=3)
+            utils.pprint("node details", node, depth=3)
 
     # another entry point for just showing the boxes involved
-    def display_mapping (self):
+    def display_mapping(self):
         TestPlc.display_mapping_plc(self.plc_spec)
         return True
 
     @staticmethod
-    def display_mapping_plc (plc_spec):
-        print '+ MyPLC',plc_spec['name']
+    def display_mapping_plc(plc_spec):
+        print('+ MyPLC',plc_spec['name'])
         # WARNING this would not be right for lxc-based PLC's - should be harmless though
-        print '+\tvserver address = root@%s:/vservers/%s'%(plc_spec['host_box'],plc_spec['vservername'])
-        print '+\tIP = %s/%s'%(plc_spec['PLC_API_HOST'],plc_spec['vserverip'])
+        print('+\tvserver address = root@{}:/vservers/{}'.format(plc_spec['host_box'], plc_spec['vservername']))
+        print('+\tIP = {}/{}'.format(plc_spec['settings']['PLC_API_HOST'], plc_spec['vserverip']))
         for site_spec in plc_spec['sites']:
             for node_spec in site_spec['nodes']:
                 TestPlc.display_mapping_node(node_spec)
 
     @staticmethod
-    def display_mapping_node (node_spec):
-        print '+   NODE %s'%(node_spec['name'])
-        print '+\tqemu box %s'%node_spec['host_box']
-        print '+\thostname=%s'%node_spec['node_fields']['hostname']
+    def display_mapping_node(node_spec):
+        print('+   NODE {}'.format(node_spec['name']))
+        print('+\tqemu box {}'.format(node_spec['host_box']))
+        print('+\thostname={}'.format(node_spec['node_fields']['hostname']))
 
     # write a timestamp in /vservers/<>.timestamp
     # cannot be inside the vserver, that causes vserver .. build to cough
-    def timestamp_vs (self):
+    def plcvm_timestamp(self):
         "Create a timestamp to remember creation date for this plc"
-        now=int(time.time())
+        now = int(time.time())
         # TODO-lxc check this one
         # a first approx. is to store the timestamp close to the VM root like vs does
-        stamp_path=self.vm_timestamp_path ()
-        stamp_dir = os.path.dirname (stamp_path)
-        utils.system(self.test_ssh.actual_command("mkdir -p %s"%stamp_dir))
-        return utils.system(self.test_ssh.actual_command("echo %d > %s"%(now,stamp_path)))==0
+        stamp_path = self.vm_timestamp_path()
+        stamp_dir = os.path.dirname(stamp_path)
+        utils.system(self.test_ssh.actual_command("mkdir -p {}".format(stamp_dir)))
+        return utils.system(self.test_ssh.actual_command("echo {:d} > {}".format(now, stamp_path))) == 0
         
     # this is called inconditionnally at the beginning of the test sequence 
     # just in case this is a rerun, so if the vm is not running it's fine
-    def vs_delete(self):
+    def plcvm_delete(self):
         "vserver delete the test myplc"
-        stamp_path=self.vm_timestamp_path()
-        self.run_in_host("rm -f %s"%stamp_path)
-        if self.options.plcs_use_lxc:
-            self.run_in_host("virsh -c lxc:// destroy %s"%self.vservername)
-            self.run_in_host("virsh -c lxc:// undefine %s"%self.vservername)
-            self.run_in_host("rm -fr /vservers/%s"%self.vservername)
-            return True
-        else:
-            self.run_in_host("vserver --silent %s delete"%self.vservername)
-            return True
+        stamp_path = self.vm_timestamp_path()
+        self.run_in_host("rm -f {}".format(stamp_path))
+        self.run_in_host("virsh -c lxc:// destroy {}".format(self.vservername))
+        self.run_in_host("virsh -c lxc:// undefine {}".format(self.vservername))
+        self.run_in_host("rm -fr /vservers/{}".format(self.vservername))
+        return True
 
     ### install
     # historically the build was being fetched by the tests
     # now the build pushes itself as a subdir of the tests workdir
     # so that the tests do not have to worry about extracting the build (svn, git, or whatever)
-    def vs_create (self):
+    def plcvm_create(self):
         "vserver creation (no install done)"
         # push the local build/ dir to the testplc box 
         if self.is_local():
             # a full path for the local calls
-            build_dir=os.path.dirname(sys.argv[0])
+            build_dir = os.path.dirname(sys.argv[0])
             # sometimes this is empty - set to "." in such a case
-            if not build_dir: build_dir="."
+            if not build_dir:
+                build_dir="."
             build_dir += "/build"
         else:
             # use a standard name - will be relative to remote buildname
-            build_dir="build"
+            build_dir = "build"
             # remove for safety; do *not* mkdir first, otherwise we end up with build/build/
             self.test_ssh.rmdir(build_dir)
-            self.test_ssh.copy(build_dir,recursive=True)
+            self.test_ssh.copy(build_dir, recursive=True)
         # the repo url is taken from arch-rpms-url 
         # with the last step (i386) removed
         repo_url = self.options.arch_rpms_url
         for level in [ 'arch' ]:
-           repo_url = os.path.dirname(repo_url)
+            repo_url = os.path.dirname(repo_url)
+
+        # invoke initvm (drop support for vs)
+        script = "lbuild-initvm.sh"
+        script_options = ""
         # pass the vbuild-nightly options to [lv]test-initvm
-        test_env_options=""
-        test_env_options += " -p %s"%self.options.personality
-        test_env_options += " -d %s"%self.options.pldistro
-        test_env_options += " -f %s"%self.options.fcdistro
-        if self.options.plcs_use_lxc:
-            script="ltest-initvm.sh"
-        else:
-            script="vtest-initvm.sh"
+        script_options += " -p {}".format(self.options.personality)
+        script_options += " -d {}".format(self.options.pldistro)
+        script_options += " -f {}".format(self.options.fcdistro)
+        script_options += " -r {}".format(repo_url)
         vserver_name = self.vservername
-        vserver_options="--netdev eth0 --interface %s"%self.vserverip
         try:
-            vserver_hostname=socket.gethostbyaddr(self.vserverip)[0]
-            vserver_options += " --hostname %s"%vserver_hostname
+            vserver_hostname = socket.gethostbyaddr(self.vserverip)[0]
+            script_options += " -n {}".format(vserver_hostname)
         except:
-            print "Cannot reverse lookup %s"%self.vserverip
-            print "This is considered fatal, as this might pollute the test results"
+            print("Cannot reverse lookup {}".format(self.vserverip))
+            print("This is considered fatal, as this might pollute the test results")
             return False
-        create_vserver="%(build_dir)s/%(script)s %(test_env_options)s %(vserver_name)s %(repo_url)s -- %(vserver_options)s"%locals()
+        create_vserver="{build_dir}/{script} {script_options} {vserver_name}".format(**locals())
         return self.run_in_host(create_vserver) == 0
 
     ### install_rpm 
@@ -653,71 +725,73 @@ class TestPlc:
         elif self.options.personality == "linux64":
             arch = "x86_64"
         else:
-            raise Exception, "Unsupported personality %r"%self.options.personality
-        nodefamily="%s-%s-%s"%(self.options.pldistro,self.options.fcdistro,arch)
+            raise Exception("Unsupported personality {}".format(self.options.personality))
+        nodefamily = "{}-{}-{}".format(self.options.pldistro, self.options.fcdistro, arch)
 
         pkgs_list=[]
-        pkgs_list.append ("slicerepo-%s"%nodefamily)
-        pkgs_list.append ("myplc")
-        pkgs_list.append ("noderepo-%s"%nodefamily)
-        pkgs_list.append ("nodeimage-%s-plain"%nodefamily)
+        pkgs_list.append("slicerepo-{}".format(nodefamily))
+        pkgs_list.append("myplc")
+        pkgs_list.append("noderepo-{}".format(nodefamily))
+        pkgs_list.append("nodeimage-{}-plain".format(nodefamily))
         pkgs_string=" ".join(pkgs_list)
-        return self.yum_install (pkgs_list)
+        return self.yum_install(pkgs_list)
 
     ###
     def mod_python(self):
         """yum install mod_python, useful on f18 and above so as to avoid broken wsgi"""
-        return self.yum_install ( [ 'mod_python' ] )
+        return self.yum_install( ['mod_python'] )
 
     ### 
     def plc_configure(self):
         "run plc-config-tty"
-        tmpname='%s.plc-config-tty'%(self.name())
-        fileconf=open(tmpname,'w')
-        for var in [ 'PLC_NAME',
-                     'PLC_ROOT_USER',
-                     'PLC_ROOT_PASSWORD',
-                     'PLC_SLICE_PREFIX',
-                     'PLC_MAIL_ENABLED',
-                     'PLC_MAIL_SUPPORT_ADDRESS',
-                     'PLC_DB_HOST',
-#                     'PLC_DB_PASSWORD',
-                    # Above line was added for integrating SFA Testing
-                     'PLC_API_HOST',
-                     'PLC_WWW_HOST',
-                     'PLC_BOOT_HOST',
-                     'PLC_NET_DNS1',
-                     'PLC_NET_DNS2',
-                     'PLC_RESERVATION_GRANULARITY',
-                     'PLC_OMF_ENABLED',
-                     'PLC_OMF_XMPP_SERVER',
-                     'PLC_VSYS_DEFAULTS',
-                     ]:
-            fileconf.write ('e %s\n%s\n'%(var,self.plc_spec[var]))
-        fileconf.write('w\n')
-        fileconf.write('q\n')
-        fileconf.close()
-        utils.system('cat %s'%tmpname)
-        self.run_in_guest_piped('cat %s'%tmpname,'plc-config-tty')
-        utils.system('rm %s'%tmpname)
+        tmpname = '{}.plc-config-tty'.format(self.name())
+        with open(tmpname,'w') as fileconf:
+            for (var,value) in self.plc_spec['settings'].items():
+                fileconf.write('e {}\n{}\n'.format(var, value))
+            fileconf.write('w\n')
+            fileconf.write('q\n')
+        utils.system('cat {}'.format(tmpname))
+        self.run_in_guest_piped('cat {}'.format(tmpname), 'plc-config-tty')
+        utils.system('rm {}'.format(tmpname))
         return True
 
+# f14 is a bit odd in this respect, although this worked fine in guests up to f18
+# however using a vplc guest under f20 requires this trick
+# the symptom is this: service plc start
+# Starting plc (via systemctl):  Failed to get D-Bus connection: \
+#    Failed to connect to socket /org/freedesktop/systemd1/private: Connection refused
+# weird thing is the doc says f14 uses upstart by default and not systemd
+# so this sounds kind of harmless
+    def start_service(self, service):
+        return self.start_stop_service(service, 'start')
+    def stop_service(self, service):
+        return self.start_stop_service(service, 'stop')
+
+    def start_stop_service(self, service, start_or_stop):
+        "utility to start/stop a service with the special trick for f14"
+        if self.options.fcdistro != 'f14':
+            return self.run_in_guest("service {} {}".format(service, start_or_stop)) == 0
+        else:
+            # patch /sbin/service so it does not reset environment
+            self.run_in_guest('sed -i -e \\"s,env -i,env,\\" /sbin/service')
+            # this is because our own scripts in turn call service 
+            return self.run_in_guest("SYSTEMCTL_SKIP_REDIRECT=true service {} {}"\
+                                     .format(service, start_or_stop)) == 0
+
     def plc_start(self):
         "service plc start"
-        self.run_in_guest('service plc start')
-        return True
+        return self.start_service('plc')
 
     def plc_stop(self):
         "service plc stop"
-        self.run_in_guest('service plc stop')
-        return True
-        
-    def vs_start (self):
+        return self.stop_service('plc')
+
+    def plcvm_start(self):
         "start the PLC vserver"
         self.start_guest()
         return True
 
-    def vs_stop (self):
+    def plcvm_stop(self):
         "stop the PLC vserver"
         self.stop_guest()
         return True
@@ -726,7 +800,7 @@ class TestPlc:
     def keys_store(self):
         "stores test users ssh keys in keys/"
         for key_spec in self.plc_spec['keys']:
-               TestKey(self,key_spec).store_key()
+                TestKey(self,key_spec).store_key()
         return True
 
     def keys_clean(self):
@@ -741,520 +815,606 @@ class TestPlc:
         dir="./keys"
         if not os.path.isdir(dir):
             os.mkdir(dir)
-        vservername=self.vservername
-        vm_root=self.vm_root_in_host()
-        overall=True
+        vservername = self.vservername
+        vm_root = self.vm_root_in_host()
+        overall = True
         prefix = 'debug_ssh_key'
-        for ext in [ 'pub', 'rsa' ] :
-            src="%(vm_root)s/etc/planetlab/%(prefix)s.%(ext)s"%locals()
-            dst="keys/%(vservername)s-debug.%(ext)s"%locals()
-            if self.test_ssh.fetch(src,dst) != 0: overall=False
+        for ext in ['pub', 'rsa'] :
+            src = "{vm_root}/etc/planetlab/{prefix}.{ext}".format(**locals())
+            dst = "keys/{vservername}-debug.{ext}".format(**locals())
+            if self.test_ssh.fetch(src, dst) != 0:
+                overall=False
         return overall
 
-    def sites (self):
+    def sites(self):
         "create sites with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_sites()
     
-    def delete_sites (self):
+    def delete_sites(self):
         "delete sites with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_sites(action="delete")
     
-    def do_sites (self,action="add"):
+    def do_sites(self, action="add"):
         for site_spec in self.plc_spec['sites']:
-            test_site = TestSite (self,site_spec)
+            test_site = TestSite(self,site_spec)
             if (action != "add"):
-                utils.header("Deleting site %s in %s"%(test_site.name(),self.name()))
+                utils.header("Deleting site {} in {}".format(test_site.name(), self.name()))
                 test_site.delete_site()
                 # deleted with the site
                 #test_site.delete_users()
                 continue
             else:
-                utils.header("Creating site %s & users in %s"%(test_site.name(),self.name()))
+                utils.header("Creating site {} & users in {}".format(test_site.name(), self.name()))
                 test_site.create_site()
                 test_site.create_users()
         return True
 
-    def delete_all_sites (self):
+    def delete_all_sites(self):
         "Delete all sites in PLC, and related objects"
-        print 'auth_root',self.auth_root()
+        print('auth_root', self.auth_root())
         sites = self.apiserver.GetSites(self.auth_root(), {}, ['site_id','login_base'])
         for site in sites:
             # keep automatic site - otherwise we shoot in our own foot, root_auth is not valid anymore
-            if site['login_base']==self.plc_spec['PLC_SLICE_PREFIX']: continue
-            site_id=site['site_id']
-            print 'Deleting site_id',site_id
-            self.apiserver.DeleteSite(self.auth_root(),site_id)
+            if site['login_base'] == self.plc_spec['settings']['PLC_SLICE_PREFIX']:
+                continue
+            site_id = site['site_id']
+            print('Deleting site_id', site_id)
+            self.apiserver.DeleteSite(self.auth_root(), site_id)
         return True
 
-    def nodes (self):
+    def nodes(self):
         "create nodes with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_nodes()
-    def delete_nodes (self):
+    def delete_nodes(self):
         "delete nodes with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_nodes(action="delete")
 
-    def do_nodes (self,action="add"):
+    def do_nodes(self, action="add"):
         for site_spec in self.plc_spec['sites']:
-            test_site = TestSite (self,site_spec)
+            test_site = TestSite(self, site_spec)
             if action != "add":
-                utils.header("Deleting nodes in site %s"%test_site.name())
+                utils.header("Deleting nodes in site {}".format(test_site.name()))
                 for node_spec in site_spec['nodes']:
-                    test_node=TestNode(self,test_site,node_spec)
-                    utils.header("Deleting %s"%test_node.name())
+                    test_node = TestNode(self, test_site, node_spec)
+                    utils.header("Deleting {}".format(test_node.name()))
                     test_node.delete_node()
             else:
-                utils.header("Creating nodes for site %s in %s"%(test_site.name(),self.name()))
+                utils.header("Creating nodes for site {} in {}".format(test_site.name(), self.name()))
                 for node_spec in site_spec['nodes']:
-                    utils.pprint('Creating node %s'%node_spec,node_spec)
-                    test_node = TestNode (self,test_site,node_spec)
-                    test_node.create_node ()
+                    utils.pprint('Creating node {}'.format(node_spec), node_spec)
+                    test_node = TestNode(self, test_site, node_spec)
+                    test_node.create_node()
         return True
 
-    def nodegroups (self):
+    def nodegroups(self):
         "create nodegroups with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_nodegroups("add")
-    def delete_nodegroups (self):
+    def delete_nodegroups(self):
         "delete nodegroups with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_nodegroups("delete")
 
     YEAR = 365*24*3600
     @staticmethod
-    def translate_timestamp (start,grain,timestamp):
-        if timestamp < TestPlc.YEAR:    return start+timestamp*grain
-        else:                           return timestamp
+    def translate_timestamp(start, grain, timestamp):
+        if timestamp < TestPlc.YEAR:
+            return start+timestamp*grain
+        else:
+            return timestamp
 
     @staticmethod
-    def timestamp_printable (timestamp):
-        return time.strftime('%m-%d %H:%M:%S UTC',time.gmtime(timestamp))
+    def timestamp_printable(timestamp):
+        return time.strftime('%m-%d %H:%M:%S UTC', time.gmtime(timestamp))
 
     def leases(self):
         "create leases (on reservable nodes only, use e.g. run -c default -c resa)"
-        now=int(time.time())
-        grain=self.apiserver.GetLeaseGranularity(self.auth_root())
-        print 'API answered grain=',grain
-        start=(now/grain)*grain
+        now = int(time.time())
+        grain = self.apiserver.GetLeaseGranularity(self.auth_root())
+        print('API answered grain=', grain)
+        start = (now/grain)*grain
         start += grain
         # find out all nodes that are reservable
-        nodes=self.all_reservable_nodenames()
+        nodes = self.all_reservable_nodenames()
         if not nodes: 
-            utils.header ("No reservable node found - proceeding without leases")
+            utils.header("No reservable node found - proceeding without leases")
             return True
-        ok=True
+        ok = True
         # attach them to the leases as specified in plc_specs
         # this is where the 'leases' field gets interpreted as relative of absolute
         for lease_spec in self.plc_spec['leases']:
             # skip the ones that come with a null slice id
-            if not lease_spec['slice']: continue
-            lease_spec['t_from']=TestPlc.translate_timestamp(start,grain,lease_spec['t_from'])
-            lease_spec['t_until']=TestPlc.translate_timestamp(start,grain,lease_spec['t_until'])
-            lease_addition=self.apiserver.AddLeases(self.auth_root(),nodes,
-                                                    lease_spec['slice'],lease_spec['t_from'],lease_spec['t_until'])
+            if not lease_spec['slice']:
+                continue
+            lease_spec['t_from']  = TestPlc.translate_timestamp(start, grain, lease_spec['t_from'])
+            lease_spec['t_until'] = TestPlc.translate_timestamp(start, grain, lease_spec['t_until'])
+            lease_addition = self.apiserver.AddLeases(self.auth_root(), nodes, lease_spec['slice'],
+                                                      lease_spec['t_from'],lease_spec['t_until'])
             if lease_addition['errors']:
-                utils.header("Cannot create leases, %s"%lease_addition['errors'])
-                ok=False
+                utils.header("Cannot create leases, {}".format(lease_addition['errors']))
+                ok = False
             else:
-                utils.header('Leases on nodes %r for %s from %d (%s) until %d (%s)'%\
-                              (nodes,lease_spec['slice'],
-                               lease_spec['t_from'],TestPlc.timestamp_printable(lease_spec['t_from']),
-                               lease_spec['t_until'],TestPlc.timestamp_printable(lease_spec['t_until'])))
+                utils.header('Leases on nodes {} for {} from {:d} ({}) until {:d} ({})'\
+                             .format(nodes, lease_spec['slice'],
+                                     lease_spec['t_from'],  TestPlc.timestamp_printable(lease_spec['t_from']),
+                                     lease_spec['t_until'], TestPlc.timestamp_printable(lease_spec['t_until'])))
                 
         return ok
 
-    def delete_leases (self):
+    def delete_leases(self):
         "remove all leases in the myplc side"
-        lease_ids= [ l['lease_id'] for l in self.apiserver.GetLeases(self.auth_root())]
-        utils.header("Cleaning leases %r"%lease_ids)
-        self.apiserver.DeleteLeases(self.auth_root(),lease_ids)
+        lease_ids = [ l['lease_id'] for l in self.apiserver.GetLeases(self.auth_root())]
+        utils.header("Cleaning leases {}".format(lease_ids))
+        self.apiserver.DeleteLeases(self.auth_root(), lease_ids)
         return True
 
-    def list_leases (self):
+    def list_leases(self):
         "list all leases known to the myplc"
         leases = self.apiserver.GetLeases(self.auth_root())
-        now=int(time.time())
+        now = int(time.time())
         for l in leases:
-            current=l['t_until']>=now
+            current = l['t_until'] >= now
             if self.options.verbose or current:
-                utils.header("%s %s from %s until %s"%(l['hostname'],l['name'],
-                                                       TestPlc.timestamp_printable(l['t_from']), 
-                                                       TestPlc.timestamp_printable(l['t_until'])))
+                utils.header("{} {} from {} until {}"\
+                             .format(l['hostname'], l['name'],
+                                     TestPlc.timestamp_printable(l['t_from']), 
+                                     TestPlc.timestamp_printable(l['t_until'])))
         return True
 
     # create nodegroups if needed, and populate
-    def do_nodegroups (self, action="add"):
+    def do_nodegroups(self, action="add"):
         # 1st pass to scan contents
         groups_dict = {}
         for site_spec in self.plc_spec['sites']:
-            test_site = TestSite (self,site_spec)
+            test_site = TestSite(self,site_spec)
             for node_spec in site_spec['nodes']:
-                test_node=TestNode (self,test_site,node_spec)
-                if node_spec.has_key('nodegroups'):
-                    nodegroupnames=node_spec['nodegroups']
-                    if isinstance(nodegroupnames,StringTypes):
+                test_node = TestNode(self, test_site, node_spec)
+                if 'nodegroups' in node_spec:
+                    nodegroupnames = node_spec['nodegroups']
+                    if isinstance(nodegroupnames, str):
                         nodegroupnames = [ nodegroupnames ]
                     for nodegroupname in nodegroupnames:
-                        if not groups_dict.has_key(nodegroupname):
-                            groups_dict[nodegroupname]=[]
+                        if nodegroupname not in groups_dict:
+                            groups_dict[nodegroupname] = []
                         groups_dict[nodegroupname].append(test_node.name())
-        auth=self.auth_root()
+        auth = self.auth_root()
         overall = True
-        for (nodegroupname,group_nodes) in groups_dict.iteritems():
+        for (nodegroupname,group_nodes) in groups_dict.items():
             if action == "add":
-                print 'nodegroups:','dealing with nodegroup',nodegroupname,'on nodes',group_nodes
+                print('nodegroups:', 'dealing with nodegroup',\
+                    nodegroupname, 'on nodes', group_nodes)
                 # first, check if the nodetagtype is here
-                tag_types = self.apiserver.GetTagTypes(auth,{'tagname':nodegroupname})
+                tag_types = self.apiserver.GetTagTypes(auth, {'tagname':nodegroupname})
                 if tag_types:
                     tag_type_id = tag_types[0]['tag_type_id']
                 else:
                     tag_type_id = self.apiserver.AddTagType(auth,
-                                                            {'tagname':nodegroupname,
-                                                             'description': 'for nodegroup %s'%nodegroupname,
-                                                             'category':'test'})
-                print 'located tag (type)',nodegroupname,'as',tag_type_id
+                                                            {'tagname' : nodegroupname,
+                                                             'description' : 'for nodegroup {}'.format(nodegroupname),
+                                                             'category' : 'test'})
+                print('located tag (type)', nodegroupname, 'as', tag_type_id)
                 # create nodegroup
-                nodegroups = self.apiserver.GetNodeGroups (auth, {'groupname':nodegroupname})
+                nodegroups = self.apiserver.GetNodeGroups(auth, {'groupname' : nodegroupname})
                 if not nodegroups:
                     self.apiserver.AddNodeGroup(auth, nodegroupname, tag_type_id, 'yes')
-                    print 'created nodegroup',nodegroupname,'from tagname',nodegroupname,'and value','yes'
+                    print('created nodegroup', nodegroupname, \
+                        'from tagname', nodegroupname, 'and value', 'yes')
                 # set node tag on all nodes, value='yes'
                 for nodename in group_nodes:
                     try:
                         self.apiserver.AddNodeTag(auth, nodename, nodegroupname, "yes")
                     except:
                         traceback.print_exc()
-                        print 'node',nodename,'seems to already have tag',nodegroupname
+                        print('node', nodename, 'seems to already have tag', nodegroupname)
                     # check anyway
                     try:
                         expect_yes = self.apiserver.GetNodeTags(auth,
-                                                                {'hostname':nodename,
-                                                                 'tagname':nodegroupname},
+                                                                {'hostname' : nodename,
+                                                                 'tagname'  : nodegroupname},
                                                                 ['value'])[0]['value']
                         if expect_yes != "yes":
-                            print 'Mismatch node tag on node',nodename,'got',expect_yes
-                            overall=False
+                            print('Mismatch node tag on node',nodename,'got',expect_yes)
+                            overall = False
                     except:
                         if not self.options.dry_run:
-                            print 'Cannot find tag',nodegroupname,'on node',nodename
+                            print('Cannot find tag', nodegroupname, 'on node', nodename)
                             overall = False
             else:
                 try:
-                    print 'cleaning nodegroup',nodegroupname
-                    self.apiserver.DeleteNodeGroup(auth,nodegroupname)
+                    print('cleaning nodegroup', nodegroupname)
+                    self.apiserver.DeleteNodeGroup(auth, nodegroupname)
                 except:
                     traceback.print_exc()
-                    overall=False
+                    overall = False
         return overall
 
     # a list of TestNode objs
-    def all_nodes (self):
+    def all_nodes(self):
         nodes=[]
         for site_spec in self.plc_spec['sites']:
-            test_site = TestSite (self,site_spec)
+            test_site = TestSite(self,site_spec)
             for node_spec in site_spec['nodes']:
-                nodes.append(TestNode (self,test_site,node_spec))
+                nodes.append(TestNode(self, test_site, node_spec))
         return nodes
 
     # return a list of tuples (nodename,qemuname)
-    def all_node_infos (self) :
+    def all_node_infos(self) :
         node_infos = []
         for site_spec in self.plc_spec['sites']:
-            node_infos += [ (node_spec['node_fields']['hostname'],node_spec['host_box']) \
+            node_infos += [ (node_spec['node_fields']['hostname'], node_spec['host_box']) \
                                 for node_spec in site_spec['nodes'] ]
         return node_infos
     
-    def all_nodenames (self): return [ x[0] for x in self.all_node_infos() ]
-    def all_reservable_nodenames (self): 
-        res=[]
+    def all_nodenames(self):
+        return [ x[0] for x in self.all_node_infos() ]
+    def all_reservable_nodenames(self): 
+        res = []
         for site_spec in self.plc_spec['sites']:
             for node_spec in site_spec['nodes']:
-                node_fields=node_spec['node_fields']
-                if 'node_type' in node_fields and node_fields['node_type']=='reservable':
+                node_fields = node_spec['node_fields']
+                if 'node_type' in node_fields and node_fields['node_type'] == 'reservable':
                     res.append(node_fields['hostname'])
         return res
 
     # silent_minutes : during the first <silent_minutes> minutes nothing gets printed
-    def nodes_check_boot_state (self, target_boot_state, timeout_minutes, silent_minutes,period_seconds=15):
+    def nodes_check_boot_state(self, target_boot_state, timeout_minutes,
+                               silent_minutes, period_seconds = 15):
         if self.options.dry_run:
-            print 'dry_run'
+            print('dry_run')
             return True
 
-        class CompleterTaskBootState (CompleterTask):
-            def __init__ (self, test_plc,hostname):
-                self.test_plc=test_plc
-                self.hostname=hostname
-                self.last_boot_state='undef'
-            def actual_run (self):
+        class CompleterTaskBootState(CompleterTask):
+            def __init__(self, test_plc, hostname):
+                self.test_plc = test_plc
+                self.hostname = hostname
+                self.last_boot_state = 'undef'
+            def actual_run(self):
                 try:
-                    node = self.test_plc.apiserver.GetNodes(self.test_plc.auth_root(), [ self.hostname ],
-                                                               ['boot_state'])[0]
+                    node = self.test_plc.apiserver.GetNodes(self.test_plc.auth_root(),
+                                                            [ self.hostname ],
+                                                            ['boot_state'])[0]
                     self.last_boot_state = node['boot_state'] 
                     return self.last_boot_state == target_boot_state
                 except:
                     return False
-            def message (self):
-                return "CompleterTaskBootState with node %s"%self.hostname
-            def failure_message (self):
-                return "node %s in state %s - expected %s"%(self.hostname,self.last_boot_state,target_boot_state)
+            def message(self):
+                return "CompleterTaskBootState with node {}".format(self.hostname)
+            def failure_epilogue(self):
+                print("node {} in state {} - expected {}"\
+                    .format(self.hostname, self.last_boot_state, target_boot_state))
                 
         timeout = timedelta(minutes=timeout_minutes)
         graceout = timedelta(minutes=silent_minutes)
         period   = timedelta(seconds=period_seconds)
         # the nodes that haven't checked yet - start with a full list and shrink over time
-        utils.header("checking nodes boot state (expected %s)"%target_boot_state)
-        tasks = [ CompleterTaskBootState (self,hostname) \
+        utils.header("checking nodes boot state (expected {})".format(target_boot_state))
+        tasks = [ CompleterTaskBootState(self,hostname) \
                       for (hostname,_) in self.all_node_infos() ]
-        return Completer (tasks).run (timeout, graceout, period)
+        message = 'check_boot_state={}'.format(target_boot_state)
+        return Completer(tasks, message=message).run(timeout, graceout, period)
 
     def nodes_booted(self):
-        return self.nodes_check_boot_state('boot',timeout_minutes=30,silent_minutes=28)
-
-    def check_nodes_ssh(self,debug,timeout_minutes,silent_minutes,period_seconds=15):
-        class CompleterTaskNodeSsh (CompleterTask):
-            def __init__ (self, hostname, qemuname, boot_state, local_key):
-                self.hostname=hostname
-                self.qemuname=qemuname
-                self.boot_state=boot_state
-                self.local_key=local_key
-            def run (self, silent):
-                command = TestSsh (self.hostname,key=self.local_key).actual_command("hostname;uname -a")
-                return utils.system (command, silent=silent)==0
-            def failure_message (self):
-                return "Cannot reach %s @ %s in %s mode"%(self.hostname, self.qemuname, self.boot_state)
+        return self.nodes_check_boot_state('boot', timeout_minutes=30, silent_minutes=28)
+
+    def probe_kvm_iptables(self):
+        (_,kvmbox) = self.all_node_infos()[0]
+        TestSsh(kvmbox).run("iptables-save")
+        return True
 
+    # probing nodes
+    def check_nodes_ping(self, timeout_seconds=30, period_seconds=10):
+        class CompleterTaskPingNode(CompleterTask):
+            def __init__(self, hostname):
+                self.hostname = hostname
+            def run(self, silent):
+                command="ping -c 1 -w 1 {} >& /dev/null".format(self.hostname)
+                return utils.system(command, silent=silent) == 0
+            def failure_epilogue(self):
+                print("Cannot ping node with name {}".format(self.hostname))
+        timeout = timedelta(seconds = timeout_seconds)
+        graceout = timeout
+        period = timedelta(seconds = period_seconds)
+        node_infos = self.all_node_infos()
+        tasks = [ CompleterTaskPingNode(h) for (h,_) in node_infos ]
+        return Completer(tasks, message='ping_node').run(timeout, graceout, period)
+
+    # ping node before we try to reach ssh, helpful for troubleshooting failing bootCDs
+    def ping_node(self):
+        "Ping nodes"
+        return self.check_nodes_ping()
+
+    def check_nodes_ssh(self, debug, timeout_minutes, silent_minutes, period_seconds=15):
         # various delays 
         timeout  = timedelta(minutes=timeout_minutes)
         graceout = timedelta(minutes=silent_minutes)
         period   = timedelta(seconds=period_seconds)
-        vservername=self.vservername
+        vservername = self.vservername
         if debug: 
-            message="debug"
-            local_key = "keys/%(vservername)s-debug.rsa"%locals()
+            message = "debug"
+            completer_message = 'ssh_node_debug'
+            local_key = "keys/{vservername}-debug.rsa".format(**locals())
         else: 
-            message="boot"
-           local_key = "keys/key_admin.rsa"
-        utils.header("checking ssh access to nodes (expected in %s mode)"%message)
+            message = "boot"
+            completer_message = 'ssh_node_boot'
+            local_key = "keys/key_admin.rsa"
+        utils.header("checking ssh access to nodes (expected in {} mode)".format(message))
         node_infos = self.all_node_infos()
-        tasks = [ CompleterTaskNodeSsh (nodename, qemuname, message, local_key) \
-                      for (nodename,qemuname) in node_infos ]
-        return Completer (tasks).run (timeout, graceout, period)
+        tasks = [ CompleterTaskNodeSsh(nodename, qemuname, local_key,
+                                        boot_state=message, dry_run=self.options.dry_run) \
+                      for (nodename, qemuname) in node_infos ]
+        return Completer(tasks, message=completer_message).run(timeout, graceout, period)
         
     def ssh_node_debug(self):
         "Tries to ssh into nodes in debug mode with the debug ssh key"
-        return self.check_nodes_ssh(debug=True,
-                                    timeout_minutes=self.ssh_node_debug_timeout,
-                                    silent_minutes=self.ssh_node_debug_silent)
+        return self.check_nodes_ssh(debug = True,
+                                    timeout_minutes = self.ssh_node_debug_timeout,
+                                    silent_minutes = self.ssh_node_debug_silent)
     
     def ssh_node_boot(self):
         "Tries to ssh into nodes in production mode with the root ssh key"
-        return self.check_nodes_ssh(debug=False,
-                                    timeout_minutes=self.ssh_node_boot_timeout,
-                                    silent_minutes=self.ssh_node_boot_silent)
+        return self.check_nodes_ssh(debug = False,
+                                    timeout_minutes = self.ssh_node_boot_timeout,
+                                    silent_minutes = self.ssh_node_boot_silent)
 
     def node_bmlogs(self):
         "Checks that there's a non-empty dir. /var/log/bm/raw"
-        return utils.system(self.actual_command_in_guest("ls /var/log/bm/raw"))==0
+        return utils.system(self.actual_command_in_guest("ls /var/log/bm/raw")) == 0
     
     @node_mapper
-    def qemu_local_init (self): pass
+    def qemu_local_init(self): pass
     @node_mapper
-    def bootcd (self): pass
+    def bootcd(self): pass
     @node_mapper
-    def qemu_local_config (self): pass
+    def qemu_local_config(self): pass
     @node_mapper
-    def nodestate_reinstall (self): pass
+    def nodestate_reinstall(self): pass
     @node_mapper
-    def nodestate_safeboot (self): pass
+    def nodestate_safeboot(self): pass
     @node_mapper
-    def nodestate_boot (self): pass
+    def nodestate_boot(self): pass
     @node_mapper
-    def nodestate_show (self): pass
+    def nodestate_show(self): pass
     @node_mapper
-    def qemu_export (self): pass
+    def qemu_export(self): pass
         
     ### check hooks : invoke scripts from hooks/{node,slice}
-    def check_hooks_node (self): 
+    def check_hooks_node(self): 
         return self.locate_first_node().check_hooks()
-    def check_hooks_sliver (self) : 
+    def check_hooks_sliver(self) : 
         return self.locate_first_sliver().check_hooks()
     
-    def check_hooks (self):
+    def check_hooks(self):
         "runs unit tests in the node and slice contexts - see hooks/{node,slice}"
         return self.check_hooks_node() and self.check_hooks_sliver()
 
     ### initscripts
     def do_check_initscripts(self):
-        class CompleterTaskInitscript (CompleterTask):
-            def __init__ (self, test_sliver, stamp):
-                self.test_sliver=test_sliver
-                self.stamp=stamp
-            def actual_run (self):
-                return self.test_sliver.check_initscript_stamp (self.stamp)
-            def message (self):
-                return "initscript checker for %s"%self.test_sliver.name()
-            def failure_message (self):
-                return "initscript stamp %s not found in sliver %s"%(self.stamp,self.test_sliver.name())
+        class CompleterTaskInitscript(CompleterTask):
+            def __init__(self, test_sliver, stamp):
+                self.test_sliver = test_sliver
+                self.stamp = stamp
+            def actual_run(self):
+                return self.test_sliver.check_initscript_stamp(self.stamp)
+            def message(self):
+                return "initscript checker for {}".format(self.test_sliver.name())
+            def failure_epilogue(self):
+                print("initscript stamp {} not found in sliver {}"\
+                    .format(self.stamp, self.test_sliver.name()))
             
-        tasks=[]
+        tasks = []
         for slice_spec in self.plc_spec['slices']:
-            if not slice_spec.has_key('initscriptstamp'):
+            if 'initscriptstamp' not in slice_spec:
                 continue
-            stamp=slice_spec['initscriptstamp']
-            slicename=slice_spec['slice_fields']['name']
+            stamp = slice_spec['initscriptstamp']
+            slicename = slice_spec['slice_fields']['name']
             for nodename in slice_spec['nodenames']:
-                print 'nodename',nodename,'slicename',slicename,'stamp',stamp
-                (site,node) = self.locate_node (nodename)
+                print('nodename', nodename, 'slicename', slicename, 'stamp', stamp)
+                site,node = self.locate_node(nodename)
                 # xxx - passing the wrong site - probably harmless
-                test_site = TestSite (self,site)
-                test_slice = TestSlice (self,test_site,slice_spec)
-                test_node = TestNode (self,test_site,node)
-                test_sliver = TestSliver (self, test_node, test_slice)
-                tasks.append ( CompleterTaskInitscript (test_sliver, stamp))
-        return Completer (tasks).run (timedelta(minutes=5), timedelta(minutes=4), timedelta(seconds=10))
-           
+                test_site = TestSite(self, site)
+                test_slice = TestSlice(self, test_site, slice_spec)
+                test_node = TestNode(self, test_site, node)
+                test_sliver = TestSliver(self, test_node, test_slice)
+                tasks.append(CompleterTaskInitscript(test_sliver, stamp))
+        return Completer(tasks, message='check_initscripts').\
+            run (timedelta(minutes=5), timedelta(minutes=4), timedelta(seconds=10))
+            
     def check_initscripts(self):
         "check that the initscripts have triggered"
         return self.do_check_initscripts()
     
-    def initscripts (self):
+    def initscripts(self):
         "create initscripts with PLCAPI"
         for initscript in self.plc_spec['initscripts']:
-            utils.pprint('Adding Initscript in plc %s'%self.plc_spec['name'],initscript)
-            self.apiserver.AddInitScript(self.auth_root(),initscript['initscript_fields'])
+            utils.pprint('Adding Initscript in plc {}'.format(self.plc_spec['name']), initscript)
+            self.apiserver.AddInitScript(self.auth_root(), initscript['initscript_fields'])
         return True
 
-    def delete_initscripts (self):
+    def delete_initscripts(self):
         "delete initscripts with PLCAPI"
         for initscript in self.plc_spec['initscripts']:
             initscript_name = initscript['initscript_fields']['name']
-            print('Attempting to delete %s in plc %s'%(initscript_name,self.plc_spec['name']))
+            print(('Attempting to delete {} in plc {}'.format(initscript_name, self.plc_spec['name'])))
             try:
-                self.apiserver.DeleteInitScript(self.auth_root(),initscript_name)
-                print initscript_name,'deleted'
+                self.apiserver.DeleteInitScript(self.auth_root(), initscript_name)
+                print(initscript_name, 'deleted')
             except:
-                print 'deletion went wrong - probably did not exist'
+                print('deletion went wrong - probably did not exist')
         return True
 
     ### manage slices
-    def slices (self):
+    def slices(self):
         "create slices with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_slices(action="add")
 
-    def delete_slices (self):
+    def delete_slices(self):
         "delete slices with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_slices(action="delete")
 
-    def fill_slices (self):
+    def fill_slices(self):
         "add nodes in slices with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_slices(action="fill")
 
-    def empty_slices (self):
+    def empty_slices(self):
         "remove nodes from slices with PLCAPI"
         return self.do_slices(action="empty")
 
-    def do_slices (self,  action="add"):
+    def do_slices(self,  action="add"):
         for slice in self.plc_spec['slices']:
-            site_spec = self.locate_site (slice['sitename'])
+            site_spec = self.locate_site(slice['sitename'])
             test_site = TestSite(self,site_spec)
             test_slice=TestSlice(self,test_site,slice)
             if action == "delete":
                 test_slice.delete_slice()
-            elif action=="fill":
+            elif action == "fill":
                 test_slice.add_nodes()
-            elif action=="empty":
+            elif action == "empty":
                 test_slice.delete_nodes()
             else:
                 test_slice.create_slice()
         return True
         
-    @slice_mapper__tasks(20,10,15)
+    @slice_mapper__tasks(20, 10, 15)
     def ssh_slice(self): pass
-    @slice_mapper__tasks(20,19,15)
-    def ssh_slice_off (self): pass
+    @slice_mapper__tasks(20, 19, 15)
+    def ssh_slice_off(self): pass
+    @slice_mapper__tasks(1, 1, 15)
+    def slice_fs_present(self): pass
+    @slice_mapper__tasks(1, 1, 15)
+    def slice_fs_deleted(self): pass
+
+    # use another name so we can exclude/ignore it from the tests on the nightly command line
+    def ssh_slice_again(self): return self.ssh_slice()
+    # note that simply doing ssh_slice_again=ssh_slice would kind of work too
+    # but for some reason the ignore-wrapping thing would not
 
     @slice_mapper
     def ssh_slice_basics(self): pass
-
     @slice_mapper
     def check_vsys_defaults(self): pass
 
     @node_mapper
-    def keys_clear_known_hosts (self): pass
+    def keys_clear_known_hosts(self): pass
     
-    def plcapi_urls (self):
-        return PlcapiUrlScanner (self.auth_root(),ip=self.vserverip).scan()
+    def plcapi_urls(self):
+        return PlcapiUrlScanner(self.auth_root(), ip=self.vserverip).scan()
+
+    def speed_up_slices(self):
+        "tweak nodemanager cycle (wait time) to 30+/-10 s"
+        return self._speed_up_slices (30, 10)
+    def super_speed_up_slices(self):
+        "dev mode: tweak nodemanager cycle (wait time) to 5+/-1 s"
+        return self._speed_up_slices(5, 1)
 
-    def speed_up_slices (self):
-        "tweak nodemanager settings on all nodes using a conf file"
+    def _speed_up_slices(self, p, r):
         # create the template on the server-side 
-        template="%s.nodemanager"%self.name()
-        template_file = open (template,"w")
-        template_file.write('OPTIONS="-p 30 -r 11 -d"\n')
-        template_file.close()
-        in_vm="/var/www/html/PlanetLabConf/nodemanager"
-        remote="%s/%s"%(self.vm_root_in_host(),in_vm)
-        self.test_ssh.copy_abs(template,remote)
+        template = "{}.nodemanager".format(self.name())
+        with open(template,"w") as template_file:
+            template_file.write('OPTIONS="-p {} -r {} -d"\n'.format(p, r))
+        in_vm = "/var/www/html/PlanetLabConf/nodemanager"
+        remote = "{}/{}".format(self.vm_root_in_host(), in_vm)
+        self.test_ssh.copy_abs(template, remote)
         # Add a conf file
-        self.apiserver.AddConfFile (self.auth_root(),
-                                    {'dest':'/etc/sysconfig/nodemanager',
-                                     'source':'PlanetLabConf/nodemanager',
-                                     'postinstall_cmd':'service nm restart',})
+        if not self.apiserver.GetConfFiles(self.auth_root(),
+                                           {'dest' : '/etc/sysconfig/nodemanager'}):
+            self.apiserver.AddConfFile(self.auth_root(),
+                                        {'dest' : '/etc/sysconfig/nodemanager',
+                                         'source' : 'PlanetLabConf/nodemanager',
+                                         'postinstall_cmd' : 'service nm restart',})
         return True
 
-    def debug_nodemanager (self):
+    def debug_nodemanager(self):
         "sets verbose mode for nodemanager, and speeds up cycle even more (needs speed_up_slices first)"
-        template="%s.nodemanager"%self.name()
-        template_file = open (template,"w")
-        template_file.write('OPTIONS="-p 10 -r 6 -v -d"\n')
-        template_file.close()
-        in_vm="/var/www/html/PlanetLabConf/nodemanager"
-        remote="%s/%s"%(self.vm_root_in_host(),in_vm)
-        self.test_ssh.copy_abs(template,remote)
+        template = "{}.nodemanager".format(self.name())
+        with open(template,"w") as template_file:
+            template_file.write('OPTIONS="-p 10 -r 6 -v -d"\n')
+        in_vm = "/var/www/html/PlanetLabConf/nodemanager"
+        remote = "{}/{}".format(self.vm_root_in_host(), in_vm)
+        self.test_ssh.copy_abs(template, remote)
         return True
 
     @node_mapper
-    def qemu_start (self) : pass
+    def qemu_start(self) : pass
 
     @node_mapper
-    def timestamp_qemu (self) : pass
+    def qemu_timestamp(self) : pass
 
     # when a spec refers to a node possibly on another plc
-    def locate_sliver_obj_cross (self, nodename, slicename, other_plcs):
+    def locate_sliver_obj_cross(self, nodename, slicename, other_plcs):
         for plc in [ self ] + other_plcs:
             try:
-                return plc.locate_sliver_obj (nodename, slicename)
+                return plc.locate_sliver_obj(nodename, slicename)
             except:
                 pass
-        raise Exception, "Cannot locate sliver %s@%s among all PLCs"%(nodename,slicename)
+        raise Exception("Cannot locate sliver {}@{} among all PLCs".format(nodename, slicename))
 
     # implement this one as a cross step so that we can take advantage of different nodes
     # in multi-plcs mode
-    def cross_check_tcp (self, other_plcs):
+    def cross_check_tcp(self, other_plcs):
         "check TCP connectivity between 2 slices (or in loopback if only one is defined)"
         if 'tcp_specs' not in self.plc_spec or not self.plc_spec['tcp_specs']: 
-            utils.header ("check_tcp: no/empty config found")
+            utils.header("check_tcp: no/empty config found")
             return True
         specs = self.plc_spec['tcp_specs']
-        overall=True
+        overall = True
+
+        # first wait for the network to be up and ready from the slices
+        class CompleterTaskNetworkReadyInSliver(CompleterTask):
+            def __init__(self, test_sliver):
+                self.test_sliver = test_sliver
+            def actual_run(self):
+                return self.test_sliver.check_tcp_ready(port = 9999)
+            def message(self):
+                return "network ready checker for {}".format(self.test_sliver.name())
+            def failure_epilogue(self):
+                print("could not bind port from sliver {}".format(self.test_sliver.name()))
+
+        sliver_specs = {}
+        tasks = []
+        managed_sliver_names = set()
+        for spec in specs:
+            # locate the TestSliver instances involved, and cache them in the spec instance
+            spec['s_sliver'] = self.locate_sliver_obj_cross(spec['server_node'], spec['server_slice'], other_plcs)
+            spec['c_sliver'] = self.locate_sliver_obj_cross(spec['client_node'], spec['client_slice'], other_plcs)
+            message = "Will check TCP between s={} and c={}"\
+                      .format(spec['s_sliver'].name(), spec['c_sliver'].name())
+            if 'client_connect' in spec:
+                message += " (using {})".format(spec['client_connect'])
+            utils.header(message)
+            # we need to check network presence in both slivers, but also
+            # avoid to insert a sliver several times
+            for sliver in [ spec['s_sliver'], spec['c_sliver'] ]:
+                if sliver.name() not in managed_sliver_names:
+                    tasks.append(CompleterTaskNetworkReadyInSliver(sliver))
+                    # add this sliver's name in the set
+                    managed_sliver_names .update( {sliver.name()} )
+
+        # wait for the netork to be OK in all server sides
+        if not Completer(tasks, message='check for network readiness in slivers').\
+           run(timedelta(seconds=30), timedelta(seconds=24), period=timedelta(seconds=5)):
+            return False
+            
+        # run server and client
         for spec in specs:
             port = spec['port']
             # server side
-            s_test_sliver = self.locate_sliver_obj_cross (spec['server_node'],spec['server_slice'],other_plcs)
-            if not s_test_sliver.run_tcp_server(port,timeout=20):
-                overall=False
+            # the issue here is that we have the server run in background
+            # and so we have no clue if it took off properly or not
+            # looks like in some cases it does not
+            if not spec['s_sliver'].run_tcp_server(port, timeout=20):
+                overall = False
                 break
 
             # idem for the client side
-            c_test_sliver = self.locate_sliver_obj_cross (spec['client_node'],spec['client_slice'],other_plcs)
-            # use nodename from locatesd sliver, unless 'client_connect' is set
+            # use nodename from located sliver, unless 'client_connect' is set
             if 'client_connect' in spec:
                 destination = spec['client_connect']
             else:
-                destination=s_test_sliver.test_node.name()
-            if not c_test_sliver.run_tcp_client(destination,port):
-                overall=False
+                destination = spec['s_sliver'].test_node.name()
+            if not spec['c_sliver'].run_tcp_client(destination, port):
+                overall = False
         return overall
 
     # painfully enough, we need to allow for some time as netflow might show up last
-    def check_system_slice (self): 
+    def check_system_slice(self): 
         "all nodes: check that a system slice is alive"
         # netflow currently not working in the lxc distro
         # drl not built at all in the wtx distro
@@ -1262,51 +1422,51 @@ class TestPlc:
         return self.check_netflow() or self.check_drl()
     
     # expose these
-    def check_netflow (self): return self._check_system_slice ('netflow')
-    def check_drl (self): return self._check_system_slice ('drl')
+    def check_netflow(self): return self._check_system_slice('netflow')
+    def check_drl(self): return self._check_system_slice('drl')
 
     # we have the slices up already here, so it should not take too long
-    def _check_system_slice (self, slicename, timeout_minutes=5, period_seconds=15):
-        class CompleterTaskSystemSlice (CompleterTask):
-            def __init__ (self, test_node, dry_run): 
-                self.test_node=test_node
-                self.dry_run=dry_run
-            def actual_run (self): 
-                return self.test_node._check_system_slice (slicename, dry_run=self.dry_run)
-            def message (self): 
-                return "System slice %s @ %s"%(slicename, self.test_node.name())
-            def failure_message (self): 
-                return "COULD not find system slice %s @ %s"%(slicename, self.test_node.name())
+    def _check_system_slice(self, slicename, timeout_minutes=5, period_seconds=15):
+        class CompleterTaskSystemSlice(CompleterTask):
+            def __init__(self, test_node, dry_run): 
+                self.test_node = test_node
+                self.dry_run = dry_run
+            def actual_run(self): 
+                return self.test_node._check_system_slice(slicename, dry_run=self.dry_run)
+            def message(self): 
+                return "System slice {} @ {}".format(slicename, self.test_node.name())
+            def failure_epilogue(self): 
+                print("COULD not find system slice {} @ {}".format(slicename, self.test_node.name()))
         timeout = timedelta(minutes=timeout_minutes)
-        silent  = timedelta (0)
-        period  = timedelta (seconds=period_seconds)
-        tasks = [ CompleterTaskSystemSlice (test_node, self.options.dry_run) \
+        silent  = timedelta(0)
+        period  = timedelta(seconds=period_seconds)
+        tasks = [ CompleterTaskSystemSlice(test_node, self.options.dry_run) \
                       for test_node in self.all_nodes() ]
-        return Completer (tasks) . run (timeout, silent, period)
+        return Completer(tasks, message='_check_system_slice').run(timeout, silent, period)
 
-    def plcsh_stress_test (self):
+    def plcsh_stress_test(self):
         "runs PLCAPI stress test, that checks Add/Update/Delete on all types - preserves contents"
         # install the stress-test in the plc image
         location = "/usr/share/plc_api/plcsh_stress_test.py"
-        remote="%s/%s"%(self.vm_root_in_host(),location)
-        self.test_ssh.copy_abs("plcsh_stress_test.py",remote)
+        remote = "{}/{}".format(self.vm_root_in_host(), location)
+        self.test_ssh.copy_abs("plcsh_stress_test.py", remote)
         command = location
         command += " -- --check"
         if self.options.size == 1:
             command +=  " --tiny"
-        return ( self.run_in_guest(command) == 0)
+        return self.run_in_guest(command) == 0
 
     # populate runs the same utility without slightly different options
     # in particular runs with --preserve (dont cleanup) and without --check
     # also it gets run twice, once with the --foreign option for creating fake foreign entries
 
-    def sfa_install_all (self):
+    def sfa_install_all(self):
         "yum install sfa sfa-plc sfa-sfatables sfa-client"
-        return self.yum_install ("sfa sfa-plc sfa-sfatables sfa-client")
+        return self.yum_install("sfa sfa-plc sfa-sfatables sfa-client")
 
     def sfa_install_core(self):
         "yum install sfa"
-        return self.yum_install ("sfa")
+        return self.yum_install("sfa")
         
     def sfa_install_plc(self):
         "yum install sfa-plc"
@@ -1314,7 +1474,7 @@ class TestPlc:
         
     def sfa_install_sfatables(self):
         "yum install sfa-sfatables"
-        return self.yum_install ("sfa-sfatables")
+        return self.yum_install("sfa-sfatables")
 
     # for some very odd reason, this sometimes fails with the following symptom
     # # yum install sfa-client
@@ -1337,20 +1497,23 @@ class TestPlc:
     # so as a workaround, we first try yum install, and then invoke rpm on the cached rpm...
     def sfa_install_client(self):
         "yum install sfa-client"
-        first_try=self.yum_install("sfa-client")
-        if first_try: return True
-        utils.header ("********** Regular yum failed - special workaround in place, 2nd chance")
-        (code,cached_rpm_path)=utils.output_of(self.actual_command_in_guest('find /var/cache/yum -name sfa-client\*.rpm'))
-        utils.header("rpm_path=<<%s>>"%rpm_path)
+        first_try = self.yum_install("sfa-client")
+        if first_try:
+            return True
+        utils.header("********** Regular yum failed - special workaround in place, 2nd chance")
+        code, cached_rpm_path = \
+                utils.output_of(self.actual_command_in_guest('find /var/cache/yum -name sfa-client\*.rpm'))
+        utils.header("rpm_path=<<{}>>".format(rpm_path))
         # just for checking 
-        self.run_in_guest("rpm -i %s"%cached_rpm_path)
-        return self.yum_check_installed ("sfa-client")
+        self.run_in_guest("rpm -i {}".format(cached_rpm_path))
+        return self.yum_check_installed("sfa-client")
 
     def sfa_dbclean(self):
         "thoroughly wipes off the SFA database"
-        return self.run_in_guest("sfaadmin reg nuke")==0 or \
-            self.run_in_guest("sfa-nuke.py")==0 or \
-            self.run_in_guest("sfa-nuke-plc.py")==0
+        return self.run_in_guest("sfaadmin reg nuke") == 0 or \
+            self.run_in_guest("sfa-nuke.py") == 0 or \
+            self.run_in_guest("sfa-nuke-plc.py") == 0 or \
+            self.run_in_guest("sfaadmin registry nuke") == 0             
 
     def sfa_fsclean(self):
         "cleanup /etc/sfa/trusted_roots and /var/lib/sfa"
@@ -1360,23 +1523,26 @@ class TestPlc:
     def sfa_plcclean(self):
         "cleans the PLC entries that were created as a side effect of running the script"
         # ignore result 
-        sfa_spec=self.plc_spec['sfa']
+        sfa_spec = self.plc_spec['sfa']
 
         for auth_sfa_spec in sfa_spec['auth_sfa_specs']:
-            login_base=auth_sfa_spec['login_base']
-            try: self.apiserver.DeleteSite (self.auth_root(),login_base)
-            except: print "Site %s already absent from PLC db"%login_base
+            login_base = auth_sfa_spec['login_base']
+            try:
+                self.apiserver.DeleteSite(self.auth_root(),login_base)
+            except:
+                print("Site {} already absent from PLC db".format(login_base))
 
             for spec_name in ['pi_spec','user_spec']:
-                user_spec=auth_sfa_spec[spec_name]
-                username=user_spec['email']
-                try: self.apiserver.DeletePerson(self.auth_root(),username)
+                user_spec = auth_sfa_spec[spec_name]
+                username = user_spec['email']
+                try:
+                    self.apiserver.DeletePerson(self.auth_root(),username)
                 except: 
                     # this in fact is expected as sites delete their members
-                    #print "User %s already absent from PLC db"%username
+                    #print "User {} already absent from PLC db".format(username)
                     pass
 
-        print "REMEMBER TO RUN sfa_import AGAIN"
+        print("REMEMBER TO RUN sfa_import AGAIN")
         return True
 
     def sfa_uninstall(self):
@@ -1403,81 +1569,58 @@ class TestPlc:
         "yum install sfa-tests and run SFA unittests"
         self.run_in_guest("yum -y install sfa-tests")
         # failed to install - forget it
-        if self.run_in_guest("rpm -q sfa-tests")!=0: 
+        if self.run_in_guest("rpm -q sfa-tests") != 0: 
             utils.header("WARNING: SFA unit tests failed to install, ignoring")
             return True
-        return self.run_in_guest("/usr/share/sfa/tests/testAll.py")==0
+        return self.run_in_guest("/usr/share/sfa/tests/testAll.py") == 0
 
     ###
     def confdir(self):
-        dirname="conf.%s"%self.plc_spec['name']
+        dirname = "conf.{}".format(self.plc_spec['name'])
         if not os.path.isdir(dirname):
-            utils.system("mkdir -p %s"%dirname)
+            utils.system("mkdir -p {}".format(dirname))
         if not os.path.isdir(dirname):
-            raise Exception,"Cannot create config dir for plc %s"%self.name()
+            raise Exception("Cannot create config dir for plc {}".format(self.name()))
         return dirname
 
-    def conffile(self,filename):
-        return "%s/%s"%(self.confdir(),filename)
-    def confsubdir(self,dirname,clean,dry_run=False):
-        subdirname="%s/%s"%(self.confdir(),dirname)
+    def conffile(self, filename):
+        return "{}/{}".format(self.confdir(), filename)
+    def confsubdir(self, dirname, clean, dry_run=False):
+        subdirname = "{}/{}".format(self.confdir(), dirname)
         if clean:
-            utils.system("rm -rf %s"%subdirname)
+            utils.system("rm -rf {}".format(subdirname))
         if not os.path.isdir(subdirname): 
-            utils.system("mkdir -p %s"%subdirname)
+            utils.system("mkdir -p {}".format(subdirname))
         if not dry_run and not os.path.isdir(subdirname):
-            raise "Cannot create config subdir %s for plc %s"%(dirname,self.name())
+            raise "Cannot create config subdir {} for plc {}".format(dirname, self.name())
         return subdirname
         
-    def conffile_clean (self,filename):
+    def conffile_clean(self, filename):
         filename=self.conffile(filename)
-        return utils.system("rm -rf %s"%filename)==0
+        return utils.system("rm -rf {}".format(filename))==0
     
     ###
     def sfa_configure(self):
         "run sfa-config-tty"
-        tmpname=self.conffile("sfa-config-tty")
-        fileconf=open(tmpname,'w')
-        for var in [ 'SFA_REGISTRY_ROOT_AUTH',
-                     'SFA_INTERFACE_HRN',
-                     'SFA_REGISTRY_LEVEL1_AUTH',
-                    'SFA_REGISTRY_HOST',
-                    'SFA_AGGREGATE_HOST',
-                     'SFA_SM_HOST',
-                    'SFA_PLC_URL',
-                     'SFA_PLC_USER',
-                     'SFA_PLC_PASSWORD',
-                     'SFA_DB_HOST',
-                     'SFA_DB_USER',
-                     'SFA_DB_PASSWORD',
-                     'SFA_DB_NAME',
-                     'SFA_API_LOGLEVEL',
-                     'SFA_GENERIC_FLAVOUR',
-                     'SFA_AGGREGATE_ENABLED',
-                     ]:
-            if self.plc_spec['sfa'].has_key(var):
-                fileconf.write ('e %s\n%s\n'%(var,self.plc_spec['sfa'][var]))
-        # the way plc_config handles booleans just sucks..
-        for var in []:
-            val='false'
-            if self.plc_spec['sfa'][var]: val='true'
-            fileconf.write ('e %s\n%s\n'%(var,val))
-        fileconf.write('w\n')
-        fileconf.write('R\n')
-        fileconf.write('q\n')
-        fileconf.close()
-        utils.system('cat %s'%tmpname)
-        self.run_in_guest_piped('cat %s'%tmpname,'sfa-config-tty')
+        tmpname = self.conffile("sfa-config-tty")
+        with open(tmpname,'w') as fileconf:
+            for (var,value) in self.plc_spec['sfa']['settings'].items():
+                fileconf.write('e {}\n{}\n'.format(var, value))
+            fileconf.write('w\n')
+            fileconf.write('R\n')
+            fileconf.write('q\n')
+        utils.system('cat {}'.format(tmpname))
+        self.run_in_guest_piped('cat {}'.format(tmpname), 'sfa-config-tty')
         return True
 
     def aggregate_xml_line(self):
-        port=self.plc_spec['sfa']['neighbours-port']
-        return '<aggregate addr="%s" hrn="%s" port="%r"/>' % \
-            (self.vserverip,self.plc_spec['sfa']['SFA_REGISTRY_ROOT_AUTH'],port)
+        port = self.plc_spec['sfa']['neighbours-port']
+        return '<aggregate addr="{}" hrn="{}" port="{}"/>'\
+            .format(self.vserverip, self.plc_spec['sfa']['settings']['SFA_REGISTRY_ROOT_AUTH'], port)
 
     def registry_xml_line(self):
-        return '<registry addr="%s" hrn="%s" port="12345"/>' % \
-            (self.vserverip,self.plc_spec['sfa']['SFA_REGISTRY_ROOT_AUTH'])
+        return '<registry addr="{}" hrn="{}" port="12345"/>'\
+            .format(self.vserverip, self.plc_spec['sfa']['settings']['SFA_REGISTRY_ROOT_AUTH'])
 
 
     # a cross step that takes all other plcs in argument
@@ -1486,79 +1629,114 @@ class TestPlc:
         # of course with a single plc, other_plcs is an empty list
         if not other_plcs:
             return True
-        agg_fname=self.conffile("agg.xml")
-        file(agg_fname,"w").write("<aggregates>%s</aggregates>\n" % \
-                                     " ".join([ plc.aggregate_xml_line() for plc in other_plcs ]))
-        utils.header ("(Over)wrote %s"%agg_fname)
+        agg_fname = self.conffile("agg.xml")
+        with open(agg_fname,"w") as out:
+            out.write("<aggregates>{}</aggregates>\n"\
+                      .format(" ".join([ plc.aggregate_xml_line() for plc in other_plcs ])))
+        utils.header("(Over)wrote {}".format(agg_fname))
         reg_fname=self.conffile("reg.xml")
-        file(reg_fname,"w").write("<registries>%s</registries>\n" % \
-                                     " ".join([ plc.registry_xml_line() for plc in other_plcs ]))
-        utils.header ("(Over)wrote %s"%reg_fname)
-        return self.test_ssh.copy_abs(agg_fname,'/%s/etc/sfa/aggregates.xml'%self.vm_root_in_host())==0 \
-            and  self.test_ssh.copy_abs(reg_fname,'/%s/etc/sfa/registries.xml'%self.vm_root_in_host())==0
+        with open(reg_fname,"w") as out:
+            out.write("<registries>{}</registries>\n"\
+                      .format(" ".join([ plc.registry_xml_line() for plc in other_plcs ])))
+        utils.header("(Over)wrote {}".format(reg_fname))
+        return self.test_ssh.copy_abs(agg_fname,
+                                      '/{}/etc/sfa/aggregates.xml'.format(self.vm_root_in_host())) == 0 \
+           and self.test_ssh.copy_abs(reg_fname,
+                                      '/{}/etc/sfa/registries.xml'.format(self.vm_root_in_host())) == 0
 
     def sfa_import(self):
         "use sfaadmin to import from plc"
-        auth=self.plc_spec['sfa']['SFA_REGISTRY_ROOT_AUTH']
-        return \
-            self.run_in_guest('sfaadmin reg import_registry')==0 
-# not needed anymore
-#        self.run_in_guest('cp /etc/sfa/authorities/%s/%s.pkey /etc/sfa/authorities/server.key'%(auth,auth))
+        auth = self.plc_spec['sfa']['settings']['SFA_REGISTRY_ROOT_AUTH']
+        return self.run_in_guest('sfaadmin reg import_registry') == 0 
 
     def sfa_start(self):
         "service sfa start"
-        return self.run_in_guest('service sfa start')==0
+        return self.start_service('sfa')
+
 
     def sfi_configure(self):
         "Create /root/sfi on the plc side for sfi client configuration"
         if self.options.dry_run: 
             utils.header("DRY RUN - skipping step")
             return True
-        sfa_spec=self.plc_spec['sfa']
+        sfa_spec = self.plc_spec['sfa']
         # cannot use auth_sfa_mapper to pass dir_name
         for slice_spec in self.plc_spec['sfa']['auth_sfa_specs']:
-            test_slice=TestAuthSfa(self,slice_spec)
-            dir_basename=os.path.basename(test_slice.sfi_path())
-            dir_name=self.confsubdir("dot-sfi/%s"%dir_basename,clean=True,dry_run=self.options.dry_run)
+            test_slice = TestAuthSfa(self, slice_spec)
+            dir_basename = os.path.basename(test_slice.sfi_path())
+            dir_name = self.confsubdir("dot-sfi/{}".format(dir_basename),
+                                       clean=True, dry_run=self.options.dry_run)
             test_slice.sfi_configure(dir_name)
             # push into the remote /root/sfi area
             location = test_slice.sfi_path()
-            remote="%s/%s"%(self.vm_root_in_host(),location)
-            self.test_ssh.mkdir(remote,abs=True)
+            remote = "{}/{}".format(self.vm_root_in_host(), location)
+            self.test_ssh.mkdir(remote, abs=True)
             # need to strip last level or remote otherwise we get an extra dir level
             self.test_ssh.copy_abs(dir_name, os.path.dirname(remote), recursive=True)
 
         return True
 
-    def sfi_clean (self):
+    def sfi_clean(self):
         "clean up /root/sfi on the plc side"
         self.run_in_guest("rm -rf /root/sfi")
         return True
 
+    def sfa_rspec_empty(self):
+        "expose a static empty rspec (ships with the tests module) in the sfi directory"
+        filename = "empty-rspec.xml"
+        overall = True
+        for slice_spec in self.plc_spec['sfa']['auth_sfa_specs']:
+            test_slice = TestAuthSfa(self, slice_spec)
+            in_vm = test_slice.sfi_path()
+            remote = "{}/{}".format(self.vm_root_in_host(), in_vm)
+            if self.test_ssh.copy_abs(filename, remote) !=0:
+                overall = False
+        return overall
+
     @auth_sfa_mapper
-    def sfa_add_site (self): pass
+    def sfa_register_site(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
-    def sfa_add_pi (self): pass
+    def sfa_register_pi(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
-    def sfa_add_user(self): pass
+    def sfa_register_user(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
     def sfa_update_user(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
-    def sfa_add_slice(self): pass
+    def sfa_register_slice(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
     def sfa_renew_slice(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfa_get_expires(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
     def sfa_discover(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
-    def sfa_create_slice(self): pass
+    def sfa_rspec(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfa_allocate(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfa_allocate_empty(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfa_provision(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfa_provision_empty(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
     def sfa_check_slice_plc(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfa_check_slice_plc_empty(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
     def sfa_update_slice(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfa_remove_user_from_slice(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfa_insert_user_in_slice(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
     def sfi_list(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
-    def sfi_show(self): pass
+    def sfi_show_site(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfi_show_slice(self): pass
+    @auth_sfa_mapper
+    def sfi_show_slice_researchers(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
     def ssh_slice_sfa(self): pass
     @auth_sfa_mapper
@@ -1568,24 +1746,36 @@ class TestPlc:
 
     def sfa_stop(self):
         "service sfa stop"
-        self.run_in_guest('service sfa stop')==0
-        return True
+        return self.stop_service('sfa')
 
-    def populate (self):
+    def populate(self):
         "creates random entries in the PLCAPI"
         # install the stress-test in the plc image
         location = "/usr/share/plc_api/plcsh_stress_test.py"
-        remote="%s/%s"%(self.vm_root_in_host(),location)
-        self.test_ssh.copy_abs("plcsh_stress_test.py",remote)
+        remote = "{}/{}".format(self.vm_root_in_host(), location)
+        self.test_ssh.copy_abs("plcsh_stress_test.py", remote)
         command = location
         command += " -- --preserve --short-names"
         local = (self.run_in_guest(command) == 0);
         # second run with --foreign
         command += ' --foreign'
         remote = (self.run_in_guest(command) == 0);
-        return ( local and remote)
+        return local and remote
 
-    def gather_logs (self):
+
+    ####################
+    @bonding_redirector
+    def bonding_init_partial(self): pass
+
+    @bonding_redirector
+    def bonding_add_yum(self): pass
+
+    @bonding_redirector
+    def bonding_install_rpms(self): pass
+
+    ####################
+
+    def gather_logs(self):
         "gets all possible logs from plc's/qemu node's/slice's for future reference"
         # (1.a) get the plc's /var/log/ and store it locally in logs/myplc.var-log.<plcname>/*
         # (1.b) get the plc's  /var/lib/pgsql/data/pg_log/ -> logs/myplc.pgsql-log.<plcname>/*
@@ -1594,103 +1784,126 @@ class TestPlc:
         # (3) get the nodes /var/log and store is as logs/node.var-log.<node>/*
         # (4) as far as possible get the slice's /var/log as logs/sliver.var-log.<sliver>/*
         # (1.a)
-        print "-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : PLC's /var/log"
-        self.gather_var_logs ()
+        print("-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : PLC's /var/log")
+        self.gather_var_logs()
         # (1.b)
-        print "-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : PLC's /var/lib/psql/data/pg_log/"
-        self.gather_pgsql_logs ()
+        print("-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : PLC's /var/lib/psql/data/pg_log/")
+        self.gather_pgsql_logs()
         # (1.c)
-        print "-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : PLC's /root/sfi/"
-        self.gather_root_sfi ()
+        print("-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : PLC's /root/sfi/")
+        self.gather_root_sfi()
         # (2) 
-        print "-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : nodes's QEMU logs"
+        print("-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : nodes's QEMU logs")
         for site_spec in self.plc_spec['sites']:
-            test_site = TestSite (self,site_spec)
+            test_site = TestSite(self,site_spec)
             for node_spec in site_spec['nodes']:
-                test_node=TestNode(self,test_site,node_spec)
+                test_node = TestNode(self, test_site, node_spec)
                 test_node.gather_qemu_logs()
         # (3)
-        print "-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : nodes's /var/log"
+        print("-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : nodes's /var/log")
         self.gather_nodes_var_logs()
         # (4)
-        print "-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : sample sliver's /var/log"
+        print("-------------------- TestPlc.gather_logs : sample sliver's /var/log")
         self.gather_slivers_var_logs()
         return True
 
     def gather_slivers_var_logs(self):
         for test_sliver in self.all_sliver_objs():
             remote = test_sliver.tar_var_logs()
-            utils.system("mkdir -p logs/sliver.var-log.%s"%test_sliver.name())
-            command = remote + " | tar -C logs/sliver.var-log.%s -xf -"%test_sliver.name()
+            utils.system("mkdir -p logs/sliver.var-log.{}".format(test_sliver.name()))
+            command = remote + " | tar -C logs/sliver.var-log.{} -xf -".format(test_sliver.name())
             utils.system(command)
         return True
 
-    def gather_var_logs (self):
-        utils.system("mkdir -p logs/myplc.var-log.%s"%self.name())
+    def gather_var_logs(self):
+        utils.system("mkdir -p logs/myplc.var-log.{}".format(self.name()))
         to_plc = self.actual_command_in_guest("tar -C /var/log/ -cf - .")        
-        command = to_plc + "| tar -C logs/myplc.var-log.%s -xf -"%self.name()
+        command = to_plc + "| tar -C logs/myplc.var-log.{} -xf -".format(self.name())
         utils.system(command)
-        command = "chmod a+r,a+x logs/myplc.var-log.%s/httpd"%self.name()
+        command = "chmod a+r,a+x logs/myplc.var-log.{}/httpd".format(self.name())
         utils.system(command)
 
-    def gather_pgsql_logs (self):
-        utils.system("mkdir -p logs/myplc.pgsql-log.%s"%self.name())
+    def gather_pgsql_logs(self):
+        utils.system("mkdir -p logs/myplc.pgsql-log.{}".format(self.name()))
         to_plc = self.actual_command_in_guest("tar -C /var/lib/pgsql/data/pg_log/ -cf - .")        
-        command = to_plc + "| tar -C logs/myplc.pgsql-log.%s -xf -"%self.name()
+        command = to_plc + "| tar -C logs/myplc.pgsql-log.{} -xf -".format(self.name())
         utils.system(command)
 
-    def gather_root_sfi (self):
-        utils.system("mkdir -p logs/sfi.%s"%self.name())
+    def gather_root_sfi(self):
+        utils.system("mkdir -p logs/sfi.{}".format(self.name()))
         to_plc = self.actual_command_in_guest("tar -C /root/sfi/ -cf - .")        
-        command = to_plc + "| tar -C logs/sfi.%s -xf -"%self.name()
+        command = to_plc + "| tar -C logs/sfi.{} -xf -".format(self.name())
         utils.system(command)
 
-    def gather_nodes_var_logs (self):
+    def gather_nodes_var_logs(self):
         for site_spec in self.plc_spec['sites']:
-            test_site = TestSite (self,site_spec)
+            test_site = TestSite(self, site_spec)
             for node_spec in site_spec['nodes']:
-                test_node=TestNode(self,test_site,node_spec)
-                test_ssh = TestSsh (test_node.name(),key="keys/key_admin.rsa")
+                test_node = TestNode(self, test_site, node_spec)
+                test_ssh = TestSsh(test_node.name(), key="keys/key_admin.rsa")
                 command = test_ssh.actual_command("tar -C /var/log -cf - .")
-                command = command + "| tar -C logs/node.var-log.%s -xf -"%test_node.name()
-                utils.system("mkdir -p logs/node.var-log.%s"%test_node.name())
+                command = command + "| tar -C logs/node.var-log.{} -xf -".format(test_node.name())
+                utils.system("mkdir -p logs/node.var-log.{}".format(test_node.name()))
                 utils.system(command)
 
 
     # returns the filename to use for sql dump/restore, using options.dbname if set
-    def dbfile (self, database):
+    def dbfile(self, database):
         # uses options.dbname if it is found
         try:
-            name=self.options.dbname
-            if not isinstance(name,StringTypes):
+            name = self.options.dbname
+            if not isinstance(name, str):
                 raise Exception
         except:
-            t=datetime.now()
-            d=t.date()
-            name=str(d)
-        return "/root/%s-%s.sql"%(database,name)
+            t = datetime.now()
+            d = t.date()
+            name = str(d)
+        return "/root/{}-{}.sql".format(database, name)
 
     def plc_db_dump(self):
         'dump the planetlab5 DB in /root in the PLC - filename has time'
         dump=self.dbfile("planetab5")
         self.run_in_guest('pg_dump -U pgsqluser planetlab5 -f '+ dump)
-        utils.header('Dumped planetlab5 database in %s'%dump)
+        utils.header('Dumped planetlab5 database in {}'.format(dump))
         return True
 
     def plc_db_restore(self):
         'restore the planetlab5 DB - looks broken, but run -n might help'
-        dump=self.dbfile("planetab5")
+        dump = self.dbfile("planetab5")
         ##stop httpd service
         self.run_in_guest('service httpd stop')
         # xxx - need another wrapper
-        self.run_in_guest_piped('echo drop database planetlab5','psql --user=pgsqluser template1')
+        self.run_in_guest_piped('echo drop database planetlab5', 'psql --user=pgsqluser template1')
         self.run_in_guest('createdb -U postgres --encoding=UNICODE --owner=pgsqluser planetlab5')
-        self.run_in_guest('psql -U pgsqluser planetlab5 -f '+dump)
+        self.run_in_guest('psql -U pgsqluser planetlab5 -f ' + dump)
         ##starting httpd service
         self.run_in_guest('service httpd start')
 
         utils.header('Database restored from ' + dump)
 
+    @staticmethod
+    def create_ignore_steps():
+        for step in TestPlc.default_steps + TestPlc.other_steps:
+            # default step can have a plc qualifier
+            if '@' in step:
+                step, qualifier = step.split('@')
+            # or be defined as forced or ignored by default
+            for keyword in ['_ignore','_force']:
+                if step.endswith(keyword):
+                    step=step.replace(keyword,'')
+            if step == SEP or step == SEPSFA :
+                continue
+            method = getattr(TestPlc,step)
+            name = step + '_ignore'
+            wrapped = ignore_result(method)
+#            wrapped.__doc__ = method.__doc__ + " (run in ignore-result mode)"
+            setattr(TestPlc, name, wrapped)
+            
+#    @ignore_result
+#    def ssh_slice_again_ignore (self): pass
+#    @ignore_result
+#    def check_initscripts_ignore (self): pass
+    
     def standby_1_through_20(self):
         """convenience function to wait for a specified number of minutes"""
         pass
@@ -1734,3 +1947,8 @@ class TestPlc:
     def standby_19(): pass
     @standby_generic 
     def standby_20(): pass
+
+    # convenience for debugging the test logic
+    def yes(self): return True
+    def no(self): return False
+    def fail(self): return False