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Revision as of 15:06, 1 August 2012 by Dwalsh (talk | contribs) (How To Test)

Feature Name

Create a tool sandboxcontainer that will allow an administrator to easily create a LXC Container to run the an application server, with libvirt and SELinux locking it down.


This change allows an administrator to run multiple services on the same machine each service in a secure Linux Container. sandboxcontainer takes an executable and sets up all of the mountpoints and libvirt container information to run the application within the container. Then libvirt will be able to launch the container with a SELinux context that will prevent the containers process from interacting with other process on the system including other containers. This could allow an administrator to run multiple web servers simultaneously each with their own data and sharing the system data, even running as root, but prevent them from breaking the host machine or other processes on the system.


  • Email:

Current status

  • Targeted release: [Fedora 18]
  • Last updated: Thu Jan 19 2012
  • Percentage of completion: 80%
    • libvirt changes going into Rawhide end of week, currently in libvirt upstream
    • libvirt-sandbox-0.0.3-3.fc18 currently in Fedora/Rawhide
      • Continuing to be developed and tested.
    • kernel fixes for connecting applications to a container still being developed.
    • Policy changes ongoing.
      • Continuing to be developed and tested.

Detailed Description

libvirt as of Fedora 16 has the ability to run processes within a container, the problem with this is the processes can run as root and can easily break out of the container. Also it is fairly difficult to setup one of these containers to run a particular service, for example apache.

We want to make the processes of setting up these containers easier and to use SELinux and containers together to lock down the processes running within the container, meaning you could run multiple customers on a host and prevent them from attacking each other or the host.

Benefit to Fedora

Linux Containers is a low level way of doing virtualization, and allows you to run multiple copies of the same service at the same time on a system. It has some advantages over full virtualization as it does not have to wait for an entire system to boot, it can use less memory and can use the base OS, in a read/only manner.


This change effects

  • SELinux Policy writers
    • New policy has to be written to define what a confined application container is allowed to do
  • Kernel and SELinux toolchain changes
    • One problem we have with the way the kernel currently labels files, is that MCS portion of the label is applied based off the process level not the level of the directory that the file was create in. This means when a process running as unconfined_t:s0 creates a file in a directory labeled svirt_lxc_file_t:s0:c1,c2, the file will be created as svirt_lxc_file_t:s0 and the container will not be able to use the file, until the administrator changed the label.

This feature requires that the kernel support new policy construct to allow the policy writer to specify whether the MCS Label is inherited from the parent directory MCS Labelor from the creating process MCS Label. kernel-3.3 should have this feature.

  • libvirt-sandbox package introduced in Fedora 17
    • virt-sandbox-service script used for creating/starting/stopping Secure Containers
      • Create
        • Create an image file or a directory on disk and populate the image/directory with the default content based on the rpm data associated with the executable.
        • It will also create the virt-sandbox database used by libvirt-sandbox to create a libvirt-lxc container.
        • Create systemd unit files that will allow an admin to start and stop linux containers just like any other servers.
      • Start
        • Convert the Linux-sandbox configuration into libvirt-lxc configuration and tell libvirt to start container.
        • Container will execute dhcpd to connect the network, as well as the executable specified during creation.
        • Container will also start a shell to allow an administrator to connect to the console to debug what is going on within the container.
      • Stop
        • Stop the container, and remove it from libvirt
      • Delete
        • Delete all content related to the container
      • Connect
        • Connect to the running container administrative shell

How To Test

Use the virt-sandbox-service command to create a container.

{ virt-sandbox-service create -C -l s0:c1,c2 -u httpd.service container1 Created sandbox container dir /var/lib/libvirt/filesystems/container1 Created sandbox config /etc/libvirt-sandbox/services/container1.sandbox Created unit file /etc/systemd/system/httpd@container1.service }

Manipulate the data within the container while running outside of the container. { cd /var/lib/libvirt/filesystems/container1/var/log touch content ls -lZ content

  1. Make sure the content gets created with the correct MCS label.
  2. Content should be labeled with s0:c1,c2 : Not s0

Now create a file with a bad label for the container. cat "Secret" > badcontent chcon -l s0:c3,c4 badcontent


Start the container { virt-sandbox-service start container1 }

In another window

Make sure the processes are running with the proper SELinux label. ps -eZ | grep svirt_lxc You should see processes like systemd, systemd-journal, dhclient and httpd running within the container with the MCS label of s0:c1,c2

Connect to the container { virt-sandbox-service connect container1 id getenforce # Should tell you SELinux is disabled. setenforce 1 # Should be denied touch /file # Should deny you creating this file touch /var/www/html/content # Should be allowed cat /var/www/html/badcontent # Should be denied Configure the apache server any way you would like, and manipulate html pages ifconfig eth0 # Grap IP Address for use on next test

  1. Use the shell running with in the container to attempt to break out of the container.

^] }

Connect to container using Firefox { firefox $IP # Using IP address from container, make sure you see the content. }

Shut down the container { virt-sandbox-service stop container1 }

Now lets try to do the same but starting and stoping the container using systemctl commands

{ systemctl start httpd@container1.service systemctl enable httpd@container1.service # Check on reboot if the container is running } Make sure the container is running.

{ virt-sandbox-service connect container1 ps -eZ ^] }

Connect to container again

{ virt-sandbox-service connect container1 ps -eZ ^] }

Stop container { systemctl stop httpd@container1.service } Delete the container { virt-sandbox-service delete container1

  1. Make sure it is deleted

ls /var/lib/libvirt/filesystems/container1 ls /etc/libvirt-sandbox/services/container1.sandbox ls /etc/systemd/system/httpd@container1.service }

Now lets setup hundreds of containers cat /usr/bin/containers

  1. !/bin/bash

create() {

   virt-sandbox-service create -C -l s0:c$2 -u httpd.service $1


delete() {

   virt-sandbox-service delete $1


start() {

   systemctl start httpd@$1.service


stop() {

   systemctl stop httpd@$1.service


command=$1 name=$2 repeat=$3 for i in $(seq 1 $repeat) do

   eval $command $name$i $i


containers create containers 100 containers start containers 100 Make sure containers start.

ps -eZ | grep systemd-journald | wc -l

Should be close to 101.

Make sure you can connect to a couple of container. Run Top to check CPU usage and see if any processes in container are using substantial CPU. Check for memory.

containers stop containers 100 containers delete containers 100

User Experience

Users should be able to easily establish containers and be able to run multiple containers simultaneously.


Release Notes

Comments and Discussion