I recently took on a project to run a VirtualBox guest within a whole Solaris
zone. The idea was to protect the Solaris system from any crashes vbox might
have. I need to run vbox on a production system, but I didn't want to put the
whole system at risk.
I was using Solaris 5/09 x86 with VirtualBox 2.2.2. Vbox would run ok as long
as I didn't try to power-off the virtual machine. When I would power off a
vbox guest, within just a few mins the Solaris host would panic with the
following message in syslog:
[i]genunix: [ID 335743 kern.notice] BAD TRAP: type=e (#pf Page fault)
rp=d55a3ccc addr=490070e4 occurred in module "genunix" due to an illegal access
to a user address[/i]
This was easily repeatable... and in two cases even made the host OS unbootable
-- device driver couldn't be loaded. Without vbox running, the zone would
function as expected and run indefinitely without issue.
As a result of this, I had to change the version of vbox I was using and run
the vbox within the global zone (risky). It seems to be running rock solid so
far, but the whole experience has left me seriously questioning the safety of
Solaris zones. Plus, I don't have the option of isolating the vbox machines as
I originally had hoped.
This is where I need help. I may simply have a misunderstanding of what a zone
can do. My understanding was that applications (ie vbox) running within a zone
would be completely isolated from the host system. Bad software, security
breaches, etc. would all be contained within the zone and the host system, and
any other zones, would be protected from a problem zone. As I have explained
above, this was not the case.
So, what should I expect from zones? Since they are not fully isolated from
the global zone and underlying host, what degree of confidence should I put
into their resiliency and their security? If, as I experienced, a rogue
application can cause a system panic, wouldn't a potential intruder be able to
do the same thing?
I really was falling in love with Zones and the potential I thought they would
offer me, but this experience has really made me question my decision to use
them and I need some help understanding exactly what went wrong.
If anyone can offer some insight, I'd be grateful.
Thanks to all in advance,
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