Re: For review: pid_namespaces(7) man page
From: Eric W. Biederman
Date: Thu Feb 28 2013 - 10:37:44 EST
"Michael Kerrisk (man-pages)" <mtk.manpages@xxxxxxxxx> writes:
> Eric et al,
> Eventually, there will be more namespace man pages, but let us start
> now with one for PID namespaces. The attached page aims to provide a
> fairly complete overview of PID namespaces.
> Eric, various pieces of the page are shifted out of other pages
> (clone(2), setns(2), etc.) and are derived from comments you've
> emailed me off list, so you are (jointly) in the copyright of the
> page. I've chosen the common license for man-pages; let me know if you
> have any objections to that license.
Interesting license. It seems reasonable.
> I'm looking for review comments (corrections, improvements, additions,
> etc.) on this page. I've provided it in two forms inline below, and
> reviewers can comment comment on whichever form they are most
> comfortable with:
> 1) The rendered page as plain text
> 2) The *roff source (also attached); rendering that source will enable
> readers to see proper formatting for the page.
> Note that the namespaces(7) page referred to in this page is not yet
> finished; I'll send it out for review at a future time.
> PID_NAMESPACES(7) Linux Programmer's Manual PID_NAMESPACES(7)
> pid_namespaces - overview of Linux PID namespaces
> For an overview of namespaces, see namespaces(7).
> PID namespaces isolate the process ID number space, meaning
> that processes in different PID namespaces can have the same
> PID. PID namespaces allow containers to migrate to a new host
> while the processes inside the container maintain the same
> PIDs in a new PID namespace start at 1, somewhat like a standâ
> alone system, and calls to fork(2), vfork(2), or clone(2) will
> produce processes with PIDs that are unique within the namesâ
> Use of PID namespaces requires a kernel that is configured with
> the CONFIG_PID_NS option.
> The namespace init process
> The first process created in a new namespace (i.e., the process
> created using clone(2) with the CLONE_NEWPID flag, or the first
> child created by a process after a call to unshare(2) using the
> CLONE_NEWPID flag) has the PID 1, and is the "init" process for
> the namespace (see init(1)). Children that are orphaned within
> the namespace will be reparented to this process rather than
> If the "init" process of a PID namespace terminates, the kernel
> terminates all of the processes in the namespace via a SIGKILL
> signal. This behavior reflects the fact that the "init"
> process is essential for the correct operation of a PID namesâ
> pace. In this case, a subsequent fork(2) into this PID namesâ
> pace (e.g., from a process that has done a setns(2) into the
> namespace using an open file descriptor for a
> /proc/[pid]/ns/pid file corresponding to a process that was in
> the namespace) will fail with the error ENOMEM; it is not posâ
> sible to create a new processes in a PID namespace whose "init"
> process has terminated.
It may be useful to mention unshare in the case of fork(2) failing just
because that is such an easy mistake to make.
pid = fork();
fork() -> ENOMEM
> Only signals for which the "init" process has established a
> signal handler can be sent to the "init" process by other memâ
> bers of the PID namespace. This restriction applies even to
> privileged processes, and prevents other members of the PID
> namespace from accidentally killing the "init" process.
> Likewise, a process in an ancestor namespace canâsubject to the
> usual permission checks described in kill(2)âsend signals to
> the "init" process of a child PID namespace only if the "init"
> process has established a handler for that signal. (Within the
> handler, the siginfo_t si_pid field described in sigaction(2)
> will be zero.) SIGKILL or SIGSTOP are treated exceptionally:
> these signals are forcibly delivered when sent from an ancestor
> PID namespace. Neither of these signals can be caught by the
> "init" process, and so will result in the usual actions associâ
> ated with those signals (respectively, terminating and stopping
> the process).
> Nesting PID namespaces
> PID namespaces can be nested: each PID namespace has a parent,
> except for the initial ("root") PID namespace. The parent of a
> PID namespace is the PID namespace of the process that created
> the namespace using clone(2) or unshare(2). PID namespaces
> thus form a tree, with all namespaces ultimately tracing their
> ancestry to the root namespace.
> A process is visible to other processes in its PID namespace,
> and to the processes in each direct ancestor PID namespace
> going back to the root PID namespace. In this context, "visiâ
> ble" means that one process can be the target of operations by
> another process using system calls that specify a process ID.
> Conversely, the processes in a child PID namespace can't see
> processes in the parent and further removed ancestor namespace.
> More succinctly: a process can see (e.g., send signals with
> kill(2), set nice values with setpriority(2), etc.) only proâ
> cesses contained in its own PID namespace and in descendants of
> that namespace.
> A process has one process ID in each of the layers of the PID
> namespace hierarchy in which is visible, and walking back
> though each direct ancestor namespace through to the root PID
> namespace. System calls that operate on process IDs always
> operate using the process ID that is visible in the PID namesâ
> pace of the caller. A call to getpid(2) always returns the PID
> associated with the namespace in which the process was created.
> Some processes in a PID namespace may have parents that are
> outside of the namespace. For example, the parent of the iniâ
> tial process in the namespace (i.e., the init(1) process with
> PID 1) is necessarily in another namespace. Likewise, the
> direct children of a process that uses setns(2) to cause its
> children to join a PID namespace are in a different PID namesâ
> pace from the caller of setns(2). Calls to getppid(2) for such
> processes return 0.
> setns(2) and unshare(2) semantics
> Calls to setns(2) that specify a PID namespace file descriptor
> and calls to unshare(2) with the CLONE_NEWPID flag cause chilâ
> dren subsequently created by the caller to be placed in a difâ
> ferent PID namespace from the caller. These calls do not, howâ
> ever, change the PID namespace of the calling process, because
> doing so would change the caller's idea of its own PID (as
> reported by getpid()), which would break many applications and
> To put things another way: a process's PID namespace membership
> is determined when the process is created and cannot be changed
> thereafter. Among other things, this means that the parental
> relationship between processes mirrors the parental between PID
> namespaces: the parent of a process is either in the same
> namespace or resides in the immediate parent PID namespace.
This is mostly true. With setns it is possible to have a parent
in a pid namespace several steps up the pid namespace hierarchy.
> Every thread in a process must be in the same PID namespace.
> For this reason, the two following call sequences will fail:
> clone(..., CLONE_VM, ...); /* Fails */
> setns(fd, CLONE_NEWPID);
> clone(..., CLONE_VM, ...); /* Fails */
> Because the above unshare(2) and setns(2) calls only change the
> PID namespace for created children, the clone(2) calls necesâ
> sarily put the new thread in a different PID namespace from the
> calling thread.
I don't know if it is interesting but these sequences also fail. But I
suppose that is obvious? Or documented at least Documented in the clone
manpage and unshare manpages.
clone(..., CLONE_VM, ...);
unshare(CLONE_NEWPID); /* Fails */
clone(..., CLONE_VM, ...);
setns(fd, CLONE_NEWPID); /* Fails */
> After creating a new PID namespace, it is useful for the child
> to change its root directory and mount a new procfs instance at
> /proc so that tools such as ps(1) work correctly. (If a new
> mount namespace is simultaneously created by including
> CLONE_NEWNS in the flags argument of clone(2) or unshare(2)),
> then it isn't necessary to change the root directory: a new
> procfs instance can be mounted directly over /proc.)
Should it be documented somewhere that /proc when mounted from a pid
namespace will use the pids of that pid namespace and /proc will only
show process for visible in the mounting pid namespace, even if that
mount of proc is accessed by processes in other pid namespaces?
You sort of say it here by saying it is useful to mount a new copy of
/proc, which it is. I just don't see you coming out straight and saying
why it is. It just seems to be implied.
> Calling readlink(2) on the path /proc/self yields the process
> ID of the caller in the PID namespace of the procfs mount
> (i.e., the PID namespace of the process that mounted the
> When a process ID is passed over a UNIX domain socket to a
> process in a different PID namespace (see the description of
> SCM_CREDENTIALS in unix(7)), it is translated into the correâ
> sponding PID value in the receiving process's PID namespace.
> CONFORMING TO
> Namespaces are a Linux-specific feature.
> SEE ALSO
> unshare(1), clone(2), setns(2), unshare(2), proc(5), credenâ
> tials(7), capabilities(7), user_namespaces(7), switch_root(8)
> Linux 2013-01-14 PID_NAMESPACES(7)
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