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chroot on Unix-like operating systems is an operation that changes the apparent root directory for the current running process and its children.(Read more ...)

Basic Installation

Building a "chroot" is very easy in Debian.

You will need:

  • Install the required packages

apt-get install binutils debootstrap
  • Choose a location

mkdir -p /srv/chroot/wheezy
  • Build the chroot

debootstrap --arch i386 wheezy /srv/chroot/wheezy http://http.debian.net/debian
  • To enter:

chroot /srv/chroot/wheezy


In general, it is necessary to create/edit key configuration points.

Create a /usr/sbin/policy-rc.d file IN THE CHROOT so that dpkg won't start daemons unless desired. This example prevents all daemons from being started in the chroot.

chroot /srv/chroot/wheezy
cat > ./usr/sbin/policy-rc.d <<EOF
exit 101
chmod a+x ./usr/sbin/policy-rc.d

The ischroot command is buggy and does not detect that it is running in a chroot (685034). Several packages depend upon ischroot for determining correct behavior in a chroot and will operate incorrectly during upgrades if it is not fixed. The easiest way to fix it is to replace ischroot with the /bin/true command.

dpkg-divert --divert /usr/bin/ischroot.debianutils --rename /usr/bin/ischroot
ln -s /bin/true /usr/bin/ischroot

Configuring a chroot is relatively static and very specific, it may be possible to dispense with the command "top-level" and directly edit files.

  • Users defined in the chroot

  • Settings network settings in the chroot

  • Mounts filesystems from the underlying host (NOT in the chroot)


Mounting pseudo filesystems


  • Check the chrooted system the presence of /proc if the chroot is not likely to be fully operational. A priori, since version debootstrap Debian/Wheezy integrates natively mount /proc and /sys

proc on /proc type proc (rw)
sysfs on /sys sysfs kind (rw)


  • It is also advisable to do a "bind" /dev/pts. This prevents error messages like Must be connected to a terminal or Can not access '/dev/pts/0': No such file or directory of this type with using the control screen.

In this case, the primary system, run the command:

mount --bind /dev/pts /srv/chroot/wheezy/dev/pts

Default Configurations

Generally the file /etc/fstab might look like this:

# grep chroot /etc/fstab
/dev /srv/chroot/wheezy/dev auto bind 0 0
/dev/pts /srv/chroot/wheezy/dev/pts auto bind 0 0
/proc /srv/chroot/wheezy/proc auto bind 0 0

Therefore mount on the primary system would be:

# mount | grep chroot
/dev on /srv/chroot/wheezy/dev -type none (rw, bind)
/dev/pts on /srv/chroot/wheezy/dev/pts kind none (rw, bind)
/proc on /srv/chroot/wheezy/proc type none (rw, bind)

Adding / removing packages

  • Eliminate unnecessary packages (all depends on the purpose of the chroot)

apt-get install deborphan

deborphan -a
  • And for example

apt-get remove --purge telnet manpages pppconfig ipchains ...

Complementary list svgalibg1 whiptail

  • Add a little comfort

apt-get install emacs23 local mc


Common examples of chroot usage:

  • Recompiling application in a context other than the machine that hosts the chroot (backport, cross-compiling, ...)

  • Update service production by tilting the old service (host machine) to the new (installed in the chroot)
  • Securing a service "chrooted" from the host machine (and vice versa)

ToDo - Clean up from French translation.