** Also affects: snap-confine (Ubuntu)
   Importance: Undecided
       Status: New

** Changed in: snap-confine (Ubuntu)
       Status: New => Fix Released

** Also affects: snap-confine (Ubuntu Xenial)
   Importance: Undecided
       Status: New

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Matching subscriptions: Ubuntu 16.04 Bugs

  pivot_root or mounts setup breaks unshare of userns

Status in Snappy Launcher:
  Fix Released
Status in snap-confine package in Ubuntu:
  Fix Released
Status in snap-confine source package in Xenial:

Bug description:

  Snap-Confine uses pivot_root internally. The particular way in which
  this is done is somewhat tricky and in effect we used to "leak" the
  old root filesystem. This caused the kernel to assume our process is
  unsafe and cannot use user namespaces.

  The fix includes using unmount2(2) with MNT_DETACH to detach/unmount
  the old root filesystem.

  For more information about the execution environment, please see this
  article http://www.zygoon.pl/2016/08/snap-execution-environment.html

  [Test Case]

  The test case can be found here:


  The test case is ran automatically for each pull request and for each final 
release. It can be reproduced manually by executing the shell commands listed 
in the prepare/execute/restore phases manually.
  The commands there assume that snapd and snap-confine are installed.
  No other additional setup is necessary.

  [Regression Potential]

   * Regression potential is minimal. Experienced member of the LXD
  development team (Stephane Graber) has reported this issue and
  recommended the fix that we've applied. The same approach is used by

  * The fix was tested on Ubuntu with spread, successfully.

  [Other Info]

  * This bug is a part of a major SRU that brings snap-confine in Ubuntu
  16.04 in line with the current upstream release 1.0.41.

  * snap-confine is technically an integral part of snapd which has an
  SRU exception and is allowed to introduce new features and take
  advantage of accelerated procedure. For more information see

  == # Pre-SRU bug description follows # ==

  Starting around the time ubuntu-core-launcher was transitioned to
  snap-confine, unsharing a user namespace became impossible.

  This is obviously a pretty big deal for LXD.

  I've confirmed that this isn't apparmor, seccomp or capabilities
  getting in the way and I think I tracked it down to a poor
  implementation of the chroot/pivot_root feature in snap-confine.

  There is no code in snap-confine to umount the paths outside of the
  pivot target. This means the snap mount table then contains a whole
  lot of unreachable mounts which will be stuck there forever.

  This causes us to trip the chroot detection code in the kernel as
  there are more than one root mount point and a ton of completely
  unreachable mount entries which makes the kernel think we're in an
  unsafe environment for a user namespace to be created.

  Strace of the current launcher to a basic binary (lxd --help): 
  The mount table for a running LXD process is now: 

  This is also very wasteful, especially considering that snap-confine
  creates a new namespace for every single command but more importantly,
  it's going to create a bunch of weird issues on systems using snapd,
  including potential data loss.

  That's because not unmounting unused mount entries (anything outside
  of your pivot dir), keeps an active reference to them in the kernel.
  This effectively means that none of those mounts can really be
  unmounted on the host. The host mount entry will disappear on umount,
  but attempting to mount again will fail with "already mounted".

  It also means that any non-persistent device (USB stick) will never
  get properly unmounted which may cause data loss.

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