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Revision 3 as of 2017-10-25 03:15:14
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Editor: PaulWise
Comment: bug fixed, remove workaround
Revision 17 as of 2021-11-18 11:29:25
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Editor: ?DanCarpenter
Comment: Expand upon private networking
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== systemd containers == = systemd-nspawn =
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systemd-nspawn and machinectl are lightweight container management tools. <<TableOfContents(3)>>
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They are deployed as part of systemd with the DebianPts:systemd-container package. == About systemd-nspawn ==

systemd-nspawn may be used to run a command or OS in a light-weight namespace container. In many ways it is similar to [[DebianMan:chroot]], but more powerful since it fully virtualizes the file system hierarchy, as well as the process tree, the various IPC subsystems and the host and domain name.

This mechanism is also similar to [[LXC]], but is much simpler to configure and most of the necessary software is already installed on contemporary Debian systems.

== Host Preparation ==

The ''host'' (i.e. the system hosting one or more containers) needs to have the [[DebianPackage:systemd-container]] package installed.

{{{#!highlight bash numbers=disable
$ apt-get install systemd-container
}}}

The host should also have unprivileged user namespaces enabled (see the [[https://www.freedesktop.org/software/systemd/man/systemd-nspawn.html#-U|documentation]] for an explanation of why, note that some consider this a [[https://lwn.net/Articles/673597/|security risk]]):

{{{#!highlight bash numbers=disable
$ echo 'kernel.unprivileged_userns_clone=1' >/etc/sysctl.d/nspawn.conf
$ systemctl restart systemd-sysctl.service
}}}

== Creating a Debian Container ==

Each ''guest'' OS should also have the [[DebianPackage:systemd-container]] package installed. A suitable guest OS installation may created using the DebianPackage:debootstrap or DebianPackage:cdebootstrap tools. For example, to create a new guest OS called `debian`:

{{{#!highlight bash numbers=disable
$ debootstrap --include=systemd-container stable /var/lib/machines/debian
I: Target architecture can be executed
I: Retrieving InRelease
I: Checking Release signature
...
}}}

After DebianPackage:debootstrap finishes, it is necessary to login to the newly created container and make some changes to allow root logins:
{{{#!highlight bash numbers=disable
$ systemd-nspawn -D /var/lib/machines/debian -U --machine debian
Spawning container buster on /var/lib/machines/debian.
Press ^] three times within 1s to kill container.
Selected user namespace base 818610176 and range 65536.

# set root password
root@debian:~# passwd
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: password updated successfully

# allow login via local tty
root@debian:~# echo 'pts/1' >> /etc/securetty # May need to set 'pts/0' instead

# logout from container
root@debian:~# logout
Container debian exited successfully.
}}}

== Booting a Container ==

Once it has been setup, it is possible to boot a container using an instantiated [[DebianMan:systemd.service]]:
{{{#!highlight bash numbers=disable
# The part after the @ must match the container name used in the previous step
$ systemctl start systemd-nspawn@debian
}}}

== Checking Container State ==

To check the state of containers, use one of the following commands:

{{{#!highlight bash numbers=disable
$ machinectl list
MACHINE CLASS SERVICE OS VERSION ADDRESSES
debian container systemd-nspawn debian 10 -

# or
$ systemctl status systemd-nspawn@debian
● systemd-nspawn@debian.service - Container debian
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/systemd-nspawn@.service; disabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since ...
}}}

== Logging into a Container ==

To login to a running container:
{{{#!highlight bash numbers=disable
$ machinectl login debian
Connected to machine debian. Press ^] three times within 1s to exit session.

Debian GNU/Linux 10 debian pts/0

debian login:
}}}

== Stopping a Container ==

To stop a running container from the host, do:
{{{#!highlight bash numbers=disable
$ systemctl stop systemd-nspawn@debian
}}}

Alternatively, you can stop the container from within the guest OS by running e.g. `halt`:
{{{#!highlight bash numbers=disable
$ machinectl login debian
Connected to machine debian. Press ^] three times within 1s to exit session.

Debian GNU/Linux 10 debian pts/0

debian login: root
Password: <something>
Last login: Wed Jan 22 21:53:00 CET 2020 on pts/1
Linux debian 5.4.0-3-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 5.4.13-1 (2020-01-19) x86_64

The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.
root@debian:~# halt
...
Machine debian terminated
}}}

== Networking ==

The host communicates with the guest container using a virtual interface named `ve-<container_name>@if<X>` while the guest uses a virtual interface named `host@if<Y>` for the same purposes:
{{{
$ ip a show dev ve-debian
77: ve-debian@if2: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST> mtu 1500 qdisc noop state DOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/ether ... brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff link-netnsid 1
}}}

Enable and start [[SystemdNetworkd|systemd-networkd.service]] on the host and in the container to automatically provision the virtual link via DHCP with routing onto host's external network interfaces.

Alternatively the interfaces can be configured manually, e.g. to setup IP forwarding, masquerading, etc.

A port in the container can be made reachable from the outside using the `Port=tcp:hostport:containerport` option in the `.nspawn` `[Network]` section. The port will then be reachable from outside the host [[https://github.com/systemd/systemd/issues/6106|but not on the host's own 127.0.0.1]].

Container names can be resolved to IP addresses reachable from the host with no further configuration, but you may want to enable and start `systemd-resolved` on both the host and the container if they get resolved slowly. Then, from the host, `dig @127.0.0.53 my-container-hostname` should return the container's IP (`dig` is available in the package `dnsutils`).

=== Using host networking ===

You can disable private networking and make nspawn container to use host networking instead by adding following lines to /etc/systemd/nspawn/container-name.nspawn :

{{{
[Network]
VirtualEthernet=no
}}}

Replace 'container-name' with a name of your container.

Look [[https://wiki.archlinux.org/title/Systemd-nspawn#Use_host_networking|here]] for more info
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=== Usage example === == Using programs with Xorg ==
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Deploy FreedomBox on a Sid container. This will take around 1.2 GB of disk space. The container does not have any knowledge of your host's X server at first. If you want to run applications inside your container that should be able to use your host's X server and session, you need to specify the `DISPLAY` environment variable. A good way to do so interactively is using the `-E` option:
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# create a new container using debootstrap
$ CDIR=/var/lib/machines/freedombox
$ sudo debootstrap sid $CDIR
$ sudo systemd-nspawn -D $CDIR --machine FreedomBox
root@FreedomBox:~# apt-get install -y freedombox-setup
$ systemd-nspawn -E DISPLAY="$DISPLAY" ...
}}}
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# set root password and stop the container
root@FreedomBox:~# passwd root
root@FreedomBox:~# ^D
However, the container now knows about the display but does not have any privileges. One possible way to allow access to your X server is using [[xhost]]. Note that you often find `xhost +` in tutorials on the web. '''Do not use this command''', it actually disables access control so that potentially ''anybody anywhere'' can connect to your X server. To revert it use `xhost -`.
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# start the container and its services
$ sudo systemd-nspawn -D $CDIR --machine FreedomBox -b
If you use a single-user machine, you may want to use the following variant which allows any connection from localhost only (non-network):
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# Browse to https://127.0.0.1/ {{{
$ xhost +local:
non-network local connections being added to access control list
}}}
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# To stop the container, either issue:
$ sudo machinectl stop FreedomBox
It's possible to passthrough the configuration needed in the container. See [[https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Systemd-nspawn#Avoiding_xhost|the Arch Linux wiki]] for one option.
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# or log in and run "halt". Simply logging out does not stop a container started with "-b" == PulseAudio Tweaks ==

[[PulseAudio]] will not work out of the box if you need it. Make sure that you have necessary libraries installed (e.g. by `apt install pulseaudio`).

You probably want the container to use the host's PulseAudio server. Find out the PulseAudio UNIX socket. Note: There's an article in the [[https://wiki.gentoo.org/wiki/PulseAudio#Allow_multiple_users_to_use_PulseAudio_concurrently|Gentoo wiki]] on how to allow multiple userse to use one PulseAudio server at the same time.

When you start the container, you need to bind the host socket in the file system of the guest and pass an environment variable `PULSE_SERVER` that defines where the socket is in the guest. Example:

{{{
$ systemd-nspawn -E PULSE_SERVER="unix:/pulse-guest.socket" --bind=/pulse-host.socket:/pulse-guest.socket ...
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----

CategorySoftware | CategoryVirtualization | CategorySystemAdministration

systemd-nspawn

About systemd-nspawn

systemd-nspawn may be used to run a command or OS in a light-weight namespace container. In many ways it is similar to chroot, but more powerful since it fully virtualizes the file system hierarchy, as well as the process tree, the various IPC subsystems and the host and domain name.

This mechanism is also similar to LXC, but is much simpler to configure and most of the necessary software is already installed on contemporary Debian systems.

Host Preparation

The host (i.e. the system hosting one or more containers) needs to have the systemd-container package installed.

$ apt-get install systemd-container

The host should also have unprivileged user namespaces enabled (see the documentation for an explanation of why, note that some consider this a security risk):

$ echo 'kernel.unprivileged_userns_clone=1' >/etc/sysctl.d/nspawn.conf
$ systemctl restart systemd-sysctl.service

Creating a Debian Container

Each guest OS should also have the systemd-container package installed. A suitable guest OS installation may created using the debootstrap or cdebootstrap tools. For example, to create a new guest OS called debian:

$ debootstrap --include=systemd-container stable /var/lib/machines/debian
I: Target architecture can be executed
I: Retrieving InRelease
I: Checking Release signature
...

After debootstrap finishes, it is necessary to login to the newly created container and make some changes to allow root logins:

$ systemd-nspawn -D /var/lib/machines/debian -U --machine debian
Spawning container buster on /var/lib/machines/debian.
Press ^] three times within 1s to kill container.
Selected user namespace base 818610176 and range 65536.

# set root password
root@debian:~# passwd
New password:
Retype new password:
passwd: password updated successfully

# allow login via local tty
root@debian:~# echo 'pts/1' >> /etc/securetty  # May need to set 'pts/0' instead

# logout from container
root@debian:~# logout
Container debian exited successfully.

Booting a Container

Once it has been setup, it is possible to boot a container using an instantiated systemd.service:

# The part after the @ must match the container name used in the previous step
$ systemctl start systemd-nspawn@debian

Checking Container State

To check the state of containers, use one of the following commands:

$ machinectl list
MACHINE CLASS     SERVICE        OS     VERSION ADDRESSES
debian container systemd-nspawn debian 10      -

# or
$ systemctl status systemd-nspawn@debian
● systemd-nspawn@debian.service - Container debian
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/systemd-nspawn@.service; disabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: active (running) since ...

Logging into a Container

To login to a running container:

$ machinectl login debian
Connected to machine debian. Press ^] three times within 1s to exit session.

Debian GNU/Linux 10 debian pts/0

debian login:

Stopping a Container

To stop a running container from the host, do:

$ systemctl stop systemd-nspawn@debian

Alternatively, you can stop the container from within the guest OS by running e.g. halt:

$ machinectl login debian
Connected to machine debian. Press ^] three times within 1s to exit session.

Debian GNU/Linux 10 debian pts/0

debian login: root
Password: <something>
Last login: Wed Jan 22 21:53:00 CET 2020 on pts/1
Linux debian 5.4.0-3-amd64 #1 SMP Debian 5.4.13-1 (2020-01-19) x86_64

The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.
root@debian:~# halt
...
Machine debian terminated

Networking

The host communicates with the guest container using a virtual interface named ve-<container_name>@if<X> while the guest uses a virtual interface named host@if<Y> for the same purposes:

$ ip a show dev ve-debian
77: ve-debian@if2: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST> mtu 1500 qdisc noop state DOWN group default qlen 1000
    link/ether ... brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff link-netnsid 1

Enable and start systemd-networkd.service on the host and in the container to automatically provision the virtual link via DHCP with routing onto host's external network interfaces.

Alternatively the interfaces can be configured manually, e.g. to setup IP forwarding, masquerading, etc.

A port in the container can be made reachable from the outside using the Port=tcp:hostport:containerport option in the .nspawn [Network] section. The port will then be reachable from outside the host but not on the host's own 127.0.0.1.

Container names can be resolved to IP addresses reachable from the host with no further configuration, but you may want to enable and start systemd-resolved on both the host and the container if they get resolved slowly. Then, from the host, dig @127.0.0.53 my-container-hostname should return the container's IP (dig is available in the package dnsutils).

Using host networking

You can disable private networking and make nspawn container to use host networking instead by adding following lines to /etc/systemd/nspawn/container-name.nspawn :

[Network]
VirtualEthernet=no

Replace 'container-name' with a name of your container.

Look here for more info

Using programs with Xorg

The container does not have any knowledge of your host's X server at first. If you want to run applications inside your container that should be able to use your host's X server and session, you need to specify the DISPLAY environment variable. A good way to do so interactively is using the -E option:

$ systemd-nspawn -E DISPLAY="$DISPLAY" ...

However, the container now knows about the display but does not have any privileges. One possible way to allow access to your X server is using ?xhost. Note that you often find xhost + in tutorials on the web. Do not use this command, it actually disables access control so that potentially anybody anywhere can connect to your X server. To revert it use xhost -.

If you use a single-user machine, you may want to use the following variant which allows any connection from localhost only (non-network):

$ xhost +local:
non-network local connections being added to access control list

It's possible to passthrough the configuration needed in the container. See the Arch Linux wiki for one option.

PulseAudio Tweaks

PulseAudio will not work out of the box if you need it. Make sure that you have necessary libraries installed (e.g. by apt install pulseaudio).

You probably want the container to use the host's PulseAudio server. Find out the PulseAudio UNIX socket. Note: There's an article in the Gentoo wiki on how to allow multiple userse to use one PulseAudio server at the same time.

When you start the container, you need to bind the host socket in the file system of the guest and pass an environment variable PULSE_SERVER that defines where the socket is in the guest. Example:

$ systemd-nspawn -E PULSE_SERVER="unix:/pulse-guest.socket" --bind=/pulse-host.socket:/pulse-guest.socket ...


CategorySoftware | CategoryVirtualization | CategorySystemAdministration