[PATCH] capabilities: Introduce CAP_RESTORE

Adrian Reber areber at redhat.com
Fri May 22 05:53:50 UTC 2020

This enables CRIU to checkpoint and restore a process as non-root.

Over the last years CRIU upstream has been asked a couple of time if it
is possible to checkpoint and restore a process as non-root. The answer
usually was: 'almost'.

The main blocker to restore a process was that selecting the PID of the
restored process, which is necessary for CRIU, is guarded by CAP_SYS_ADMIN.

In the last two years the questions about checkpoint/restore as non-root
have increased and especially in the last few months we have seen
multiple people inventing workarounds.

The use-cases so far and their workarounds:

 * Checkpoint/Restore in an HPC environment in combination with
   a resource manager distributing jobs. Users are always running
   as non root, but there was the desire to provide a way to
   checkpoint and restore long running jobs.
   Workaround: setuid wrapper to start CRIU as root as non-root
 * Another use case to checkpoint/restore processes as non-root
   uses as workaround a non privileged process which cycles through
   PIDs by calling fork() as fast as possible with a rate of
   100,000 pids/s instead of writing to ns_last_pid
 * Fast Java startup using checkpoint/restore.
   We have been in contact with JVM developers who are integrating
   CRIU into a JVM to decrease the startup time.
   Workaround so far: patch out CAP_SYS_ADMIN checks in the kernel
 * Container migration as non root. There are people already
   using CRIU to migrate containers as non-root. The solution
   there is to run it in a user namespace. So if you are able
   to carefully setup your environment with the namespaces
   it is already possible to restore a container/process as non-root.
   Unfortunately it is not always possible to setup an environment
   in such a way and for easier access to non-root based container
   migration this patch is also required.

There are probably a few more things guarded by CAP_SYS_ADMIN required
to run checkpoint/restore as non-root, but by applying this patch I can
already checkpoint and restore processes as non-root. As there are
already multiple workarounds I would prefer to do it correctly in the
kernel to avoid that CRIU users are starting to invent more workarounds.

I have used the following tests to verify that this change works as
expected by setting the new capability CAP_RESTORE on the two resulting
test binaries:

$ cat ns_last_pid.c
 // http://efiop-notes.blogspot.com/2014/06/how-to-set-pid-using-nslastpid.html
 #include <stdio.h>
 #include <stdlib.h>
 #include <string.h>
 #include <sys/file.h>
 #include <sys/types.h>
 #include <unistd.h>

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
	pid_t pid, new_pid;
	char buf[32];
	int fd;

	if (argc != 2)
		return 1;

	printf("Opening ns_last_pid...\n");
	fd = open("/proc/sys/kernel/ns_last_pid", O_RDWR | O_CREAT, 0644);
	if (fd < 0) {
		perror("Cannot open ns_last_pid");
		return 1;

	printf("Locking ns_last_pid...\n");
	if (flock(fd, LOCK_EX)) {
		printf("Cannot lock ns_last_pid\n");
		return 1;

	pid = atoi(argv[1]);
	snprintf(buf, sizeof(buf), "%d", pid - 1);
	printf("Writing pid-1 to ns_last_pid...\n");
	if (write(fd, buf, strlen(buf)) != strlen(buf)) {
		printf("Cannot write to buf\n");
		return 1;

	new_pid = fork();
	if (new_pid == 0) {
		printf("I am the child!\n");
	} else if (new_pid == pid)
		printf("I am the parent. My child got the pid %d!\n", new_pid);
		printf("pid (%d) does not match expected pid (%d)\n", new_pid, pid);

	printf("Cleaning up...\n");
	if (flock(fd, LOCK_UN))
		printf("Cannot unlock\n");
	return 0;
$ id -u; /home/libcap/ns_last_pid 300000
Opening ns_last_pid...
Locking ns_last_pid...
Writing pid-1 to ns_last_pid...
I am the parent. My child got the pid 300000!
I am the child!
Cleaning up...

For the clone3() based approach:
$ cat clone3_set_tid.c
 #define _GNU_SOURCE
 #include <linux/sched.h>
 #include <stdint.h>
 #include <stdio.h>
 #include <stdlib.h>
 #include <string.h>
 #include <sys/types.h>
 #include <sys/stat.h>
 #include <sys/syscall.h>
 #include <unistd.h>

 #define ptr_to_u64(ptr) ((__u64)((uintptr_t)(ptr)))

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
	struct clone_args c_args = { };
	pid_t pid, new_pid;

	if (argc != 2)
		return 1;

	pid = atoi(argv[1]);
	c_args.set_tid = ptr_to_u64(&pid);
	c_args.set_tid_size = 1;

	new_pid = syscall(__NR_clone3, &c_args, sizeof(c_args));
	if (new_pid == 0) {
		printf("I am the child!\n");
	} else if (new_pid == pid)
		printf("I am the parent. My child got the pid %d!\n", new_pid);
		printf("pid (%d) does not match expected pid (%d)\n", new_pid, pid);

	return 0;
$ id -u; /home/libcap/clone3_set_tid 300000
I am the parent. My child got the pid 300000!
I am the child!

Signed-off-by: Adrian Reber <areber at redhat.com>
 include/linux/capability.h          | 5 +++++
 include/uapi/linux/capability.h     | 9 ++++++++-
 kernel/pid.c                        | 2 +-
 kernel/pid_namespace.c              | 2 +-
 security/selinux/include/classmap.h | 5 +++--
 5 files changed, 18 insertions(+), 5 deletions(-)

diff --git a/include/linux/capability.h b/include/linux/capability.h
index b4345b38a6be..1278313cb2bc 100644
--- a/include/linux/capability.h
+++ b/include/linux/capability.h
@@ -261,6 +261,11 @@ static inline bool bpf_capable(void)
 	return capable(CAP_BPF) || capable(CAP_SYS_ADMIN);
+static inline bool restore_ns_capable(struct user_namespace *ns)
+	return ns_capable(ns, CAP_RESTORE) || ns_capable(ns, CAP_SYS_ADMIN);
 /* audit system wants to get cap info from files as well */
 extern int get_vfs_caps_from_disk(const struct dentry *dentry, struct cpu_vfs_cap_data *cpu_caps);
diff --git a/include/uapi/linux/capability.h b/include/uapi/linux/capability.h
index c7372180a0a9..4bcc4e3d41ff 100644
--- a/include/uapi/linux/capability.h
+++ b/include/uapi/linux/capability.h
@@ -406,7 +406,14 @@ struct vfs_ns_cap_data {
 #define CAP_BPF			39
-#define CAP_LAST_CAP         CAP_BPF
+/* Allow checkpoint/restore related operations */
+/* Allow PID selection during clone3() */
+/* Allow writing to ns_last_pid */
+#define CAP_RESTORE		40
+#define CAP_LAST_CAP         CAP_RESTORE
 #define cap_valid(x) ((x) >= 0 && (x) <= CAP_LAST_CAP)
diff --git a/kernel/pid.c b/kernel/pid.c
index 3122043fe364..bbc26f2bcff6 100644
--- a/kernel/pid.c
+++ b/kernel/pid.c
@@ -198,7 +198,7 @@ struct pid *alloc_pid(struct pid_namespace *ns, pid_t *set_tid,
 			if (tid != 1 && !tmp->child_reaper)
 				goto out_free;
 			retval = -EPERM;
-			if (!ns_capable(tmp->user_ns, CAP_SYS_ADMIN))
+			if (!restore_ns_capable(tmp->user_ns))
 				goto out_free;
diff --git a/kernel/pid_namespace.c b/kernel/pid_namespace.c
index 0e5ac162c3a8..f58186b31ce6 100644
--- a/kernel/pid_namespace.c
+++ b/kernel/pid_namespace.c
@@ -269,7 +269,7 @@ static int pid_ns_ctl_handler(struct ctl_table *table, int write,
 	struct ctl_table tmp = *table;
 	int ret, next;
-	if (write && !ns_capable(pid_ns->user_ns, CAP_SYS_ADMIN))
+	if (write && !restore_ns_capable(pid_ns->user_ns))
 		return -EPERM;
diff --git a/security/selinux/include/classmap.h b/security/selinux/include/classmap.h
index 98e1513b608a..f8b8f12a6ebd 100644
--- a/security/selinux/include/classmap.h
+++ b/security/selinux/include/classmap.h
@@ -27,9 +27,10 @@
 	    "audit_control", "setfcap"
 #define COMMON_CAP2_PERMS  "mac_override", "mac_admin", "syslog", \
-		"wake_alarm", "block_suspend", "audit_read", "perfmon", "bpf"
+		"wake_alarm", "block_suspend", "audit_read", "perfmon", "bpf", \
+		"restore"
 #error New capability defined, please update COMMON_CAP2_PERMS.

base-commit: e8f3274774b45b5f4e9e3d5cad7ff9f43ae3add5

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