pivot_root(".", ".") and the fchdir() dance

Philipp Wendler ml at philippwendler.de
Tue Aug 6 08:12:43 UTC 2019

Hello Michael, hello Aleksa,

Am 05.08.19 um 14:29 schrieb Michael Kerrisk (man-pages):

> On 8/5/19 12:36 PM, Aleksa Sarai wrote:
>> On 2019-08-01, Michael Kerrisk (man-pages) <mtk.manpages at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> I'd like to add some documentation about the pivot_root(".", ".")
>>> idea, but I have a doubt/question. In the lxc_pivot_root() code we
>>> have these steps
>>>         oldroot = open("/", O_DIRECTORY | O_RDONLY | O_CLOEXEC);
>>>         newroot = open(rootfs, O_DIRECTORY | O_RDONLY | O_CLOEXEC);
>>>         fchdir(newroot);
>>>         pivot_root(".", ".");
>>>         fchdir(oldroot);      // ****
>>>         mount("", ".", "", MS_SLAVE | MS_REC, NULL);
>>>         umount2(".", MNT_DETACH);
>>>         fchdir(newroot);      // ****
>> And this one is required because we are in @oldroot at this point, due
>> to the first fchdir(2). If we don't have the first one, then switching
>> from "." to "/" in the mount/umount2 calls should fix the issue.
> See my notes above for why I therefore think that the second fchdir()
> is also not needed (and therefore why switching from "." to "/" in the
> mount()/umount2() calls is unnecessary.
> Do you agree with my analysis?

If both the second and third fchdir are not required,
then we do not need to bother with file descriptors at all, right?

Indeed, my tests show that the following seems to work fine:

pivot_root(".", ".")
umount2(".", MNT_DETACH)

I tested that with my own tool[1] that uses user namespaces and marks
everything MS_PRIVATE before, so I do not need the mount(MS_SLAVE) here.

And it works the same with both umount2("/") and umount2(".").

Did I overlook something that makes the file descriptors required?
If not, wouldn't the above snippet make sense as example in the man page?


[1]: https://github.com/sosy-lab/benchexec/blob/b90aeb034b867711845a453587b73fbe8e4dca68/benchexec/container.py#L735

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