RFC: making cn_proc work in {pid,user} namespaces

Aleksa Sarai asarai at suse.de
Mon Oct 16 12:11:48 UTC 2017

>> At the moment, cn_proc is not usable by containers or container runtimes. In
>> addition, all connectors have an odd relationship with init_net (for example,
>> /proc/net/connectors only exists in init_net). There are two main use-cases that
>> would be perfect for cn_proc, which is the reason for me pushing this:
>> First, when adding a process to an existing container, in certain modes runc
>> would like to know that process's exit code. But, when joining a PID namespace,
>> it is advisable[1] to always double-fork after doing the setns(2) to reparent
>> the joining process to the init of the container (this causes the SIGCHLD to be
>> received by the container init).  It would also be useful to be able to monitor
>> the exit code of the init process in a container without being its parent. At
>> the moment, cn_proc doesn't allow unprivileged users to use it (making it a
>> problem for user namespaces and "rootless containers"). In addition, it also
>> doesn't allow nested containers to use it, because it requires the process to be
>> in init_pid. As a result, runc cannot use cn_proc and relies on SIGCHLD (which
>> can only be used if we don't double-fork, or keep around a long-running process
>> which is something that runc also cannot do).
> As far as I know there are no technical issues that require a
> daemonizing double fork when injecting a process into a pid namespaces.
> A fork is required because the pid is changing and that requires another
> process.

 From memory I believe there was some issue that we saw, but because we 
couldn't collect exit codes we didn't look into it much further. I will 
try to write up a sample program to explain what I think the issue is 
(it's related to who gets SIGCHLD inside the container in the "attach" 

> Monitoring and acting on the monitored state without keeping around a
> single process to do the monitoring does not make sense to me.  So I am
> just going to ignore that.

/me just realised you can't use SIGCHLD with double-fork, because that 
implies the process isn't actually reparented to the container's init. I 
was referring to the "middle" process in a double-fork here, but that 
obviously doesn't make sense.

> So I don't think fixing cn_proc for this issue makes sense.
>> Secondly, there are/were some init systems that rely on cn_proc to manage
>> service state. From a "it would be neat" perspective, I think it would be quite
>> nice if such init systems could be used inside containers. But that requires
>> cn_proc to be able to be used as an unprivileged user and in a pid namespace
>> other than init_pid.
> Any pointers to these init systems?  In general I agree.  Given how much
> work it takes to go through a subsystem and ensure that it is safe for
> non-root users I am happy to see the work done, but I am not
> volunteering for the work when I have several I have as many tasks as I
> have on my plate right now.

I *believe* (though I can't quite read scheme code) that GNU Shepherd 
(used to be called dmd) is the most recent example that uses cn_proc. 
Upstart /used/ to use it before they switched to ptrace.

However, we've also seen some users that are trying to use programs that 
make use of cn_proc inside containers[1]. So I don't think this is a 
problem that's going to go away (not to mention that I'm fairly 
convinced that cn_proc might be the only sane way to currently get 
process exit events if you're not their parent).

>> The /proc/net/connectors thing is quite easily resolved (just make it the
>> connector driver perdev and make some small changes to make sure the interfaces
>> stay sane inside of a container's network namespace). I'm sure that we'll
>> probably have to make some changes to the registration API, so that a connector
>> can specify whether they want to be visible to non-init_net
>> namespaces.
>> However, the cn_proc problem is a bit harder to resolve nicely and there are
>> quite a few interface questions that would need to be agreed upon. The basic
>> idea would be that a process can only get cn_proc events if it has
>> ptrace_may_access rights over said process (effectively a forced filter -- which
>> would ideally be done send-side but it looks like it might have to be done
>> receive-side). This should resolve possible concerns about an unprivileged
>> process being able to inspect (fairly granular) information about the host. And
>> obviously the pids, uids, and gids would all be translated according to the
>> receiving process's user namespaces (if it cannot be translated then the message
>> is not received). I guess that the translation would be done in the same way as
>> SCM_CREDENTIALS (and cgroup.procs files), which is that it's done on the receive
>> side not the send side.
> Hmm.  We have several of these things such as bsd process accounting
> which appear to be working fine.
> The basic logic winds up being:
> for_each_receiver:
>      compose_msg in receivers namespace
>      send_msg.
> The tricky bit in my mind is dealing with receivers because of the
> connection with the network namespace.
> SCM_CREDENTIALS is an unfortunate case, that really should not be
> followed as a model.  The major challenge there is not knowing
> the receiving socket, or the receiver.  If I had been smarter
> when I coded that originally I would have forced everything into
> the namespace of the opener of the receiving socket.   I may have to
> revisit that one again someday and see if there are improvements that
> can be made.

When you say "namespace of the opener of the receiving socket", does 
that mean that if a process moves the fd to a different set of 
namespaces that the mappings will still be in relation to the old 
namespace? Or am I misunderstanding?

>> My reason for sending this email rather than just writing the patch is to see
>> whether anyone has any solid NACKs against the use-case or whether there is some
>> fundamental issue that I'm not seeing. If nobody objects, I'll be happy to work
>> on this.
> If you want a non-crazy (with respect to namespace involvement) model
> please look at kernel/acct.c:acc_process()

Will do, I guess you're referring to do_acc_process()?

> If there are use cases that people still care about that use the
> proc connector and want to run in a container it seems sensible to dig
> in and sort things out.  I think I have been hoping it is little enough
> used we won't have to mess with making it work in namespaces.

There are a few other container-related bugs in it that need to be 
resolved anyway (see the discussion in [1] -- it's clearly not a 
security issue per-se but it is a correctness one). I'll try to work 
through those in either case, but I imagine that the architecture 
reworks necessary to fix those issues will make making it work for 
unprivileged users quite trivial (excluding the part where we have to 
verify that there's no security issues opened by it).

[1]: https://github.com/moby/moby/issues/30176

Aleksa Sarai
Snr. Software Engineer (Containers)
SUSE Linux GmbH

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