LXD 2.0: Your first LXD container [3/12]

This is the third blog post in this series about LXD 2.0.

As there are a lot of commands involved with managing LXD containers, this post is rather long. If you’d instead prefer a quick step-by-step tour of those same commands, you can try our online demo instead!

LXD logo

Creating and starting a new container

As I mentioned in the previous posts, the LXD command line client comes pre-configured with a few image sources. Ubuntu is the best covered with official images for all its releases and architectures but there also are a number of unofficial images for other distributions. Those are community generated and maintained by LXC upstream contributors.

Ubuntu

If all you want is the best supported release of Ubuntu, all you have to do is:

lxc launch ubuntu:

Note however that the meaning of this will change as new Ubuntu LTS releases are released. So for scripting use, you should stick to mentioning the actual release you want (see below).

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS

To get the latest, tested, stable image of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS, you can simply run:

lxc launch ubuntu:14.04

In this mode, a random container name will be picked.
If you prefer to specify your own name, you may instead do:

lxc launch ubuntu:14.04 c1

Should you want a specific (non-primary) architecture, say a 32bit Intel image, you can do:

lxc launch ubuntu:14.04/i386 c2

Current Ubuntu development release

The “ubuntu:” remote used above only provides official, tested images for Ubuntu. If you instead want untested daily builds, as is appropriate for the development release, you’ll want to use the “ubuntu-daily:” remote instead.

lxc launch ubuntu-daily:devel c3

In this example, whatever the latest Ubuntu development release is will automatically be picked.

You can also be explicit, for example by using the code name:

lxc launch ubuntu-daily:xenial c4

Latest Alpine Linux

Alpine images are available on the “images:” remote and can be launched with:

lxc launch images:alpine/3.3/amd64 c5

And many more

A full list of the Ubuntu images can be obtained with:

lxc image list ubuntu:
lxc image list ubuntu-daily:

And of all the unofficial images:

lxc image list images:

A list of all the aliases (friendly names) available on a given remote can also be obtained with (for the “ubuntu:” remote):

lxc image alias list ubuntu:

Creating a container without starting it

If you want to just create a container or a batch of container but not also start them immediately, you can just replace “lxc launch” by “lxc init”. All the options are identical, the only different is that it will not start the container for you after creation.

lxc init ubuntu:

Information about your containers

Listing the containers

To list all your containers, you can do:

lxc list

There are a number of options you can pass to change what columns are displayed. On systems with a lot of containers, the default columns can be a bit slow (due to having to retrieve network information from the containers), you may instead want:

lxc list --fast

Which shows a different set of columns that require less processing on the server side.

You can also filter based on name or properties:

stgraber@dakara:~$ lxc list security.privileged=true
+------+---------+---------------------+-----------------------------------------------+------------+-----------+
| NAME |  STATE  |        IPV4         |                       IPV6                    |    TYPE    | SNAPSHOTS |
+------+---------+---------------------+-----------------------------------------------+------------+-----------+
| suse | RUNNING | 172.17.0.105 (eth0) | 2607:f2c0:f00f:2700:216:3eff:fef2:aff4 (eth0) | PERSISTENT | 0         |
+------+---------+---------------------+-----------------------------------------------+------------+-----------+

In this example, only containers that are privileged (user namespace disabled) are listed.

stgraber@dakara:~$ lxc list --fast alpine
+-------------+---------+--------------+----------------------+----------+------------+
|    NAME     |  STATE  | ARCHITECTURE |      CREATED AT      | PROFILES |    TYPE    |
+-------------+---------+--------------+----------------------+----------+------------+
| alpine      | RUNNING | x86_64       | 2016/03/20 02:11 UTC | default  | PERSISTENT |
+-------------+---------+--------------+----------------------+----------+------------+
| alpine-edge | RUNNING | x86_64       | 2016/03/20 02:19 UTC | default  | PERSISTENT |
+-------------+---------+--------------+----------------------+----------+------------+

And in this example, only the containers which have “alpine” in their names (complex regular expressions are also supported).

Getting detailed information from a container

As the list command obviously can’t show you everything about a container in a nicely readable way, you can query information about an individual container with:

lxc info <container>

For example:

stgraber@dakara:~$ lxc info zerotier
Name: zerotier
Architecture: x86_64
Created: 2016/02/20 20:01 UTC
Status: Running
Type: persistent
Profiles: default
Pid: 31715
Processes: 32
Ips:
 eth0: inet 172.17.0.101
 eth0: inet6 2607:f2c0:f00f:2700:216:3eff:feec:65a8
 eth0: inet6 fe80::216:3eff:feec:65a8
 lo: inet 127.0.0.1
 lo: inet6 ::1
 lxcbr0: inet 10.0.3.1
 lxcbr0: inet6 fe80::c0a4:ceff:fe52:4d51
 zt0: inet 29.17.181.59
 zt0: inet6 fd80:56c2:e21c:0:199:9379:e711:b3e1
 zt0: inet6 fe80::79:e7ff:fe0d:5123
Snapshots:
 zerotier/blah (taken at 2016/03/08 23:55 UTC) (stateless)

Life-cycle management commands

Those are probably the most obvious commands of any container or virtual machine manager but they still need to be covered.

Oh and all of them accept multiple container names for batch operation.

start

Starting a container is as simple as:

lxc start <container>

stop

Stopping a container can be done with:

lxc stop <container>

If the container isn’t cooperating (not responding to SIGPWR), you can force it with:

lxc stop <container> --force

restart

Restarting a container is done through:

lxc restart <container>

And if not cooperating (not responding to SIGINT), you can force it with:

lxc restart <container> --force

pause

You can also “pause” a container. In this mode, all the container tasks will be sent the equivalent of a SIGSTOP which means that they will still be visible and will still be using memory but they won’t get any CPU time from the scheduler.

This is useful if you have a CPU hungry container that takes quite a while to start but that you aren’t constantly using. You can let it start, then pause it, then start it again when needed.

lxc pause <container>

delete

Lastly, if you want a container to go away, you can delete it for good with:

lxc delete <container>

Note that you will have to pass “–force” if the container is currently running.

Container configuration

LXD exposes quite a few container settings, including resource limitation, control of container startup and a variety of device pass-through options. The full list is far too long to cover in this post but it’s available here.

As far as devices go, LXD currently supports the following device types:

  • disk
    This can be a physical disk or partition being mounted into the container or a bind-mounted path from the host.
  • nic
    A network interface. It can be a bridged virtual ethernet interrface, a point to point device, an ethernet macvlan device or an actual physical interface being passed through to the container.
  • unix-block
    A UNIX block device, e.g. /dev/sda
  • unix-char
    A UNIX character device, e.g. /dev/kvm
  • none
    This special type is used to hide a device which would otherwise be inherited through profiles.

Configuration profiles

The list of all available profiles can be obtained with:

lxc profile list

To see the content of a given profile, the easiest is to use:

lxc profile show <profile>

And should you want to change anything inside it, use:

lxc profile edit <profile>

You can change the list of profiles which apply to a given container with:

lxc profile apply <container> <profile1>,<profile2>,<profile3>,...

Local configuration

For things that are unique to a container and so don’t make sense to put into a profile, you can just set them directly against the container:

lxc config edit <container>

This behaves the exact same way as “profile edit” above.

Instead of opening the whole thing in a text editor, you can also modify individual keys with:

lxc config set <container> <key> <value>

Or add devices, for example:

lxc config device add my-container kvm unix-char path=/dev/kvm

Which will setup a /dev/kvm entry for the container named “my-container”.

The same can be done for a profile using “lxc profile set” and “lxc profile device add”.

Reading the configuration

You can read the container local configuration with:

lxc config show <container>

Or to get the expanded configuration (including all the profile keys):

lxc config show --expanded <container>

For example:

stgraber@dakara:~$ lxc config show --expanded zerotier
name: zerotier
profiles:
- default
config:
 security.nesting: "true"
 user.a: b
 volatile.base_image: a49d26ce5808075f5175bf31f5cb90561f5023dcd408da8ac5e834096d46b2d8
 volatile.eth0.hwaddr: 00:16:3e:ec:65:a8
 volatile.last_state.idmap: '[{"Isuid":true,"Isgid":false,"Hostid":100000,"Nsid":0,"Maprange":65536},{"Isuid":false,"Isgid":true,"Hostid":100000,"Nsid":0,"Maprange":65536}]'
devices:
 eth0:
  name: eth0
  nictype: macvlan
  parent: eth0
  type: nic
  limits.ingress: 10Mbit
  limits.egress: 10Mbit
 root:
  path: /
  size: 30GB
  type: disk
 tun:
  path: /dev/net/tun
  type: unix-char
ephemeral: false

That one is very convenient to check what will actually be applied to a given container.

Live configuration update

Note that unless indicated in the documentation, all configuration keys and device entries are applied to affected containers live. This means that you can add and remove devices or alter the security profile of running containers without ever having to restart them.

Getting a shell

LXD lets you execute tasks directly into the container. The most common use of this is to get a shell in the container or to run some admin tasks.

The benefit of this compared to SSH is that you’re not dependent on the container being reachable over the network or on any software or configuration being present inside the container.

Execution environment

One thing that’s a bit unusual with the way LXD executes commands inside the container is that it’s not itself running inside the container, which means that it can’t know what shell to use, what environment variables to set or what path to use for your home directory.

Commands executed through LXD will always run as the container’s root user (uid 0, gid 0) with a minimal PATH environment variable set and a HOME environment variable set to /root.

Additional environment variables can be passed through the command line or can be set permanently against the container through the “environment.<key>”  configuration options.

Executing commands

Getting a shell inside a container is typically as simple as:

lxc exec <container> bash

That’s assuming the container does actually have bash installed.

More complex commands require the use of a separator for proper argument parsing:

lxc exec <container> -- ls -lh /

To set or override environment variables, you can use the “–env” argument, for example:

stgraber@dakara:~$ lxc exec zerotier --env mykey=myvalue env | grep mykey
mykey=myvalue

Managing files

Because LXD has direct access to the container’s file system, it can directly read and write any file inside the container. This can be very useful to pull log files or exchange files with the container.

Pulling a file from the container

To get a file from the container, simply run:

lxc file pull <container>/<path> <dest>

For example:

stgraber@dakara:~$ lxc file pull zerotier/etc/hosts hosts

Or to read it to standard output:

stgraber@dakara:~$ lxc file pull zerotier/etc/hosts -
127.0.0.1 localhost

# The following lines are desirable for IPv6 capable hosts
::1 ip6-localhost ip6-loopback
fe00::0 ip6-localnet
ff00::0 ip6-mcastprefix
ff02::1 ip6-allnodes
ff02::2 ip6-allrouters
ff02::3 ip6-allhosts

Pushing a file to the container

Push simply works the other way:

lxc file push <source> <container>/<path>

Editing a file directly

Edit is a convenience function which simply pulls a given path, opens it in your default text editor and then pushes it back to the container when you close it:

lxc file edit <container>/<path>

Snapshot management

LXD lets you snapshot and restore containers. Snapshots include the entirety of the container’s state (including running state if –stateful is used), which means all container configuration, container devices and the container file system.

Creating a snapshot

You can snapshot a container with:

lxc snapshot <container>

It’ll get named snapX where X is an incrementing number.

Alternatively, you can name your snapshot with:

lxc snapshot <container> <snapshot name>

Listing snapshots

The number of snapshots a container has is listed in “lxc list”, but the actual snapshot list is only visible in “lxc info”.

lxc info <container>

Restoring a snapshot

To restore a snapshot, simply run:

lxc restore <container> <snapshot name>

Renaming a snapshot

Renaming a snapshot can be done by moving it with:

lxc move <container>/<snapshot name> <container>/<new snapshot name>

Creating a new container from a snapshot

You can create a new container which will be identical to another container’s snapshot except for the volatile information being reset (MAC address):

lxc copy <source container>/<snapshot name> <destination container>

Deleting a snapshot

And finally, to delete a snapshot, just run:

lxc delete <container>/<snapshot name>

Cloning and renaming

Getting clean distribution images is all nice and well, but sometimes you want to install a bunch of things into your container, configure it and then branch it into a bunch of other containers.

Copying a container

To copy a container and effectively clone it into a new one, just run:

lxc copy <source container> <destination container>

The destination container will be identical in every way to the source one, except it won’t have any snapshot and volatile keys (MAC address) will be reset.

Moving a container

LXD lets you copy and move containers between hosts, but that will get covered in a later post.

For now, the “move” command can be used to rename a container with:

lxc move <old name> <new name>

The only requirement is that the container be stopped, everything else will be kept exactly as it was, including the volatile information (MAC address and such).

Conclusion

This pretty long post covered most of the commands you’re likely to use in day to day operation.

Obviously a lot of those commands have extra arguments that let you be more efficient or tweak specific aspects of your LXD containers. The best way to learn about all of those is to go through the help for those you care about (–help).

Extra information

The main LXD website is at: https://linuxcontainers.org/lxd
Development happens on Github at: https://github.com/lxc/lxd
Mailing-list support happens on: https://lists.linuxcontainers.org
IRC support happens in: #lxcontainers on irc.freenode.net

And if you don’t want or can’t install LXD on your own machine, you can always try it online instead!

Posted in Canonical voices, LXD, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged | 69 Comments

LXD 2.0: Installing and configuring LXD [2/12]

This is the second blog post in this series about LXD 2.0.

LXD logo

Where to get LXD and how to install it

There are many ways to get the latest and greatest LXD. We recommend you use LXD with the latest LXC and Linux kernel to benefit from all its features but we try to degrade gracefully where possible to support older Linux distributions.

The Ubuntu archive

All new releases of LXD get uploaded to the Ubuntu development release within a few minutes of the upstream release. That package is then used to seed all the other source of packages for Ubuntu users.

If you are using the Ubuntu development release (16.04), you can simply do:

sudo apt install lxd

If you are running Ubuntu 14.04, we have backport packages available for you with:

sudo apt -t trusty-backports install lxd

The Ubuntu Core store

Users of Ubuntu Core on the stable release can install LXD with:

sudo snappy install lxd.stgraber

The official Ubuntu PPA

Users of other Ubuntu releases such as Ubuntu 15.10 can find LXD packages in the following PPA (Personal Package Archive):

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:ubuntu-lxc/stable
sudo apt update
sudo apt dist-upgrade
sudo apt install lxd

The Gentoo archive

Gentoo has pretty recent LXD packages available too, you can install those with:

sudo emerge --ask lxd

From source

Building LXD from source isn’t very difficult if you are used to building Go projects. Note however that you will need the LXC development headers. In order to run LXD, your distribution also needs a recent Linux kernel (3.13 at least), recent LXC (1.1.5 or higher), LXCFS and a version of shadow that supports user sub-uid/gid allocations.

The latest instructions on building LXD from source can be found in the upstream README.

Networking on Ubuntu

The Ubuntu packages provide you with a “lxdbr0” bridge as a convenience. This bridge comes unconfigured by default, offering only IPv6 link-local connectivity through an HTTP proxy.

To reconfigure the bridge and add some IPv4 or IPv6 subnet to it, you can run:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure -p medium lxd

Or go through the whole LXD step by step setup (see below) with:

sudo lxd init

Storage backends

LXD supports a number of storage backends. It’s best to know what backend you want to use prior to starting to use LXD as we do not support moving existing containers or images between backends.

A feature comparison table of the different backends can be found here.

ZFS

Our recommendation is ZFS as it supports all the features LXD needs to offer the fastest and most reliable container experience. This includes per-container disk quotas, immediate snapshot/restore, optimized migration (send/receive) and instant container creation from an image. It is also considered more mature than btrfs.

To use ZFS with LXD, you first need ZFS on your system.

If using Ubuntu 16.04, simply install it with:

sudo apt install zfsutils-linux

On Ubuntu 15.10, you can install it with:

sudo apt install zfsutils-linux zfs-dkms

And on older releases, you can use the zfsonlinux PPA:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:zfs-native/stable
sudo apt update
sudo apt install ubuntu-zfs

To configure LXD to use it, simply run:

sudo lxd init

This will ask you a few questions about what kind of zfs configuration you’d like for your LXD and then configure it for you.

btrfs

If ZFS isn’t available, then btrfs offers the same level of integration with the exception that it doesn’t properly report disk usage inside the container (quotas do apply though).
btrfs also has the nice property that it can nest properly which ZFS doesn’t yet. That is, if you plan on using LXD inside LXD, btrfs is worth considering.

LXD doesn’t need any configuration to use btrfs, you just need to make sure that /var/lib/lxd is stored on a btrfs filesystem and LXD will automatically make use of it for you.

LVM

If ZFS and btrfs aren’t an option for you, you can still get some of their benefits by using LVM instead. LXD uses LVM with thin provisioning, creating an LV for each image and container and using LVM snapshots as needed.

To configure LXD to use LVM, create a LVM VG and run:

lxc config set storage.lvm_vg_name "THE-NAME-OF-YOUR-VG"

By default LXD uses ext4 as the filesystem for all the LVs. You can change that to XFS if you’d like:

lxc config set storage.lvm_fstype xfs

Simple directory

If none of the above are an option for you, LXD will still work but without any of those advanced features. It will simply create a directory for each container, unpack the image tarballs for each container creation and do a full filesystem copy on container copy or snapshot.

All features are supported except for disk quotas, but this is very wasteful of disk space and also very slow. If you have no other choice, it will work, but you should really consider one of the alternatives above.

 

More daemon configuration

The complete list of configuration options for the LXD daemon can be found here.

Network configuration

By default LXD doesn’t listen to the network. The only way to talk to it is over a local unix socket at /var/lib/lxd/unix.socket.

To have it listen to the network, there are two useful keys to set:

lxc config set core.https_address [::]
lxc config set core.trust_password some-secret-string

The first instructs LXD to bind the “::” IPv6 address, namely, all addresses on the machine. You can obviously replace this by a specific IPv4 or IPv6 address and can append the TCP port you’d like it to bind (defaults to 8443).

The second sets a password which is used for remote clients to add themselves to the LXD certificate trust store. When adding the LXD host, they will be prompted for the password, if the password matches, the LXD daemon will store their client certificate and they’ll be trusted, never needing the password again (it can be changed or unset entirely at that point).

You can also choose not to set a password and instead manually trust each new client by having them give you their “client.crt” file (from ~/.config/lxc) and add it to the trust store yourself with:

lxc config trust add client.crt

Proxy configuration

In most setups, you’ll want the LXD daemon to fetch images from remote servers.

If you are in an environment where you must go through a HTTP(s) proxy to reach the outside world, you’ll want to set a few configuration keys or alternatively make sure that the standard PROXY environment variables are set in the daemon’s environment.

lxc config set core.proxy_http http://squid01.internal:3128
lxc config set core.proxy_https http://squid01.internal:3128
lxc config set core.proxy_ignore_hosts image-server.local

With those, all transfers initiated by LXD will use the squid01.internal HTTP proxy, except for traffic to the server at image-server.local

Image management

LXD does dynamic image caching. When instructed to create a container from a remote image, it will download that image into its image store, mark it as cached and record its origin. After a number of days without seeing any use (10 by default), the image is automatically removed. Every few hours (6 by default), LXD also goes looking for a newer version of the image and updates its local copy.

All of that can be configured through the following configuration options:

lxc config set images.remote_cache_expiry 5
lxc config set images.auto_update_interval 24
lxc config set images.auto_update_cached false

Here we are instructing LXD to override all of those defaults and instead cache images for up to 5 days since they were last used, look for image updates every 24 hours and only update images which were directly marked as such (–auto-update flag in lxc image copy) but not the images which were automatically cached by LXD.

Conclusion

At this point you should have a working version of the latest LXD release, you can now start playing with it on your own or wait for the next blog post where we’ll create our first container and play with the LXD command line tool.

Extra information

The main LXD website is at: https://linuxcontainers.org/lxd
Development happens on Github at: https://github.com/lxc/lxd
Mailing-list support happens on: https://lists.linuxcontainers.org
IRC support happens in: #lxcontainers on irc.freenode.net

And if you can’t wait until the next few posts to try LXD, you can take our guided tour online and try it for free right from your web browser!

Posted in Canonical voices, LXD, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged | 33 Comments

LXD 2.0: Introduction to LXD [1/12]

This is the first blog post in this series about LXD 2.0.

LXD logo

A few common questions about LXD

What’s LXD?

At its simplest, LXD is a daemon which provides a REST API to drive LXC containers.

Its main goal is to provide a user experience that’s similar to that of virtual machines but using Linux containers rather than hardware virtualization.

 

How does LXD relate to Docker/Rkt?

This is by far the question we get the most, so lets address it immediately!

LXD focuses on system containers, also called infrastructure containers. That is, a LXD container runs a full Linux system, exactly as it would be when run on metal or in a VM.

Those containers will typically be long running and based on a clean distribution image. Traditional configuration management tools and deployment tools can be used with LXD containers exactly as you would use them for a VM, cloud instance or physical machine.

In contrast, Docker focuses on ephemeral, stateless, minimal containers that won’t typically get upgraded or re-configured but instead just be replaced entirely. That makes Docker and similar projects much closer to a software distribution mechanism than a machine management tool.

The two models aren’t mutually exclusive either. You can absolutely use LXD to provide full Linux systems to your users who can then install Docker inside their LXD container to run the software they want.

Why LXD?

We’ve been working on LXC for a number of years now. LXC is great at what it does, that is, it provides a very good set of low-level tools and a library to create and manage containers.

However that kind of low-level tools aren’t necessarily very user friendly. They require a lot of initial knowledge to understand what they do and how they work. Keeping backward compatibility with older containers and deployment methods has also prevented LXC from using some security features by default, leading to more manual configuration for users.

We see LXD as the opportunity to address those shortcomings. On top of being a long running daemon which lets us address a lot of the LXC limitations like dynamic resource restrictions, container migration and efficient live migration, it also gave us the opportunity to come up with a new default experience, that’s safe by default and much more user focused.

The main LXD components

There are a number of main components that make LXD, those are typically visible in the LXD directory structure, in its command line client and in the API structure itself.

Containers

Containers in LXD are made of:

  • A filesystem (rootfs)
  • A list of configuration options, including resource limits, environment, security options and more
  • A bunch of devices like disks, character/block unix devices and network interfaces
  • A set of profiles the container inherits configuration from (see below)
  • Some properties (container architecture, ephemeral or persistent and the name)
  • Some runtime state (when using CRIU for checkpoint/restore)

Snapshots

Container snapshots are identical to containers except for the fact that they are immutable, they can be renamed, destroyed or restored but cannot be modified in any way.

It is worth noting that because we allow storing the container runtime state, this effectively gives us the concept of “stateful” snapshots. That is, the ability to rollback the container including its cpu and memory state at the time of the snapshot.

Images

LXD is image based, all LXD containers come from an image. Images are typically clean Linux distribution images similar to what you would use for a virtual machine or cloud instance.

It is possible to “publish” a container, making an image from it which can then be used by the local or remote LXD hosts.

Images are uniquely identified by their sha256 hash and can be referenced by using their full or partial hash. Because typing long hashes isn’t particularly user friendly, images can also have any number of properties applied to them, allowing for an easy search through the image store. Aliases can also be set as a one to one mapping between a unique user friendly string and an image hash.

LXD comes pre-configured with three remote image servers (see remotes below):

  • “ubuntu:” provides stable Ubuntu images
  • “ubunt-daily:” provides daily builds of Ubuntu
  • “images:” is a community run image server providing images for a number of other Linux distributions using the upstream LXC templates

Remote images are automatically cached by the LXD daemon and kept for a number of days (10 by default) since they were last used before getting expired.

Additionally LXD also automatically updates remote images (unless told otherwise) so that the freshest version of the image is always available locally.

Profiles

Profiles are a way to define container configuration and container devices in one place and then have it apply to any number of containers.

A container can have multiple profiles applied to it. When building the final container configuration (known as expanded configuration), the profiles will be applied in the order they were defined in, overriding each other when the same configuration key or device is found. Then the local container configuration is applied on top of that, overriding anything that came from a profile.

LXD ships with two pre-configured profiles:

  • “default” is automatically applied to all containers unless an alternative list of profiles is provided by the user. This profile currently does just one thing, define a “eth0” network device for the container.
  • “docker” is a profile you can apply to a container which you want to allow to run Docker containers. It requests LXD load some required kernel modules, turns on container nesting and sets up a few device entries.

Remotes

As I mentioned earlier, LXD is a networked daemon. The command line client that comes with it can therefore talk to multiple remote LXD servers as well as image servers.

By default, our command line client comes with the following remotes defined

  • local: (default remote, talks to the local LXD daemon over a unix socket)
  • ubuntu: (Ubuntu image server providing stable builds)
  • ubuntu-daily: (Ubuntu image server providing daily builds)
  • images: (images.linuxcontainers.org image server)

Any combination of those remotes can be used with the command line client.

You can also add any number of remote LXD hosts that were configured to listen to the network. Either anonymously if they are a public image server or after going through authentication when managing remote containers.

It’s that remote mechanism that makes it possible to interact with remote image servers as well as copy or move containers between hosts.

Security

One aspect that was core to our design of LXD was to make it as safe as possible while allowing modern Linux distributions to run inside it unmodified.

The main security features used by LXD through its use of the LXC library are:

  • Kernel namespaces. Especially the user namespace as a way to keep everything the container does separate from the rest of the system. LXD uses the user namespace by default (contrary to LXC) and allows for the user to turn it off on a per-container basis (marking the container “privileged”) when absolutely needed.
  • Seccomp. To filter some potentially dangerous system calls.
  • AppArmor: To provide additional restrictions on mounts, socket, ptrace and file access. Specifically restricting cross-container communication.
  • Capabilities. To prevent the container from loading kernel modules, altering the host system time, …
  • CGroups. To restrict resource usage and prevent DoS attacks against the host.

Rather than exposing those features directly to the user as LXC would, we’ve built a new configuration language which abstracts most of those into something that’s more user friendly. For example, one can tell LXD to pass any host device into the container without having to also lookup its major/minor numbers to manually update the cgroup policy.

Communications with LXD itself are secured using TLS 1.2 with a very limited set of allowed ciphers. When dealing with hosts outside of the system certificate authority, LXD will prompt the user to validate the remote fingerprint (SSH style), then cache the certificate for future use.

The REST API

Everything that LXD does is done over its REST API. There is no other communication channel between the client and the daemon.

The REST API can be access over a local unix socket, only requiring group membership for authentication or over a HTTPs socket using a client certificate for authentication.

The structure of the REST API matches the different components described above and is meant to be very simple and intuitive to use.

When a more complex communication mechanism is required, LXD will negotiate websockets and use those for the rest of the communication. This is used for interactive console session, container migration and for event notification.

With LXD 2.0, comes the /1.0 stable API. We will not break backward compatibility within the /1.0 API endpoint however we may add extra features to it, which we’ll signal by declaring additional API extensions that the client can look for.

Containers at scale

While LXD provides a good command line client, that client isn’t meant to manage thousands of containers on multiple hosts. For that kind of use cases, we have nova-lxd which is an OpenStack plugin that makes OpenStack treat LXD containers in the exact same way it would treat VMs.

This allows for very large deployments of LXDs on a large number of hosts, using the OpenStack APIs to manage network, storage and load-balancing.

Extra information

The main LXD website is at: https://linuxcontainers.org/lxd
Development happens on Github at: https://github.com/lxc/lxd
Mailing-list support happens on: https://lists.linuxcontainers.org
IRC support happens in: #lxcontainers on irc.freenode.net

And if you can’t wait until the next few posts to try LXD, you can take our guided tour online and try it for free right from your web browser!

Posted in Canonical voices, LXD, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged | 63 Comments

LXD 2.0: Blog post series [0/12]

As we are getting closer and closer to tagging the final releases of LXC, LXD and LXCFS 2.0, I figured it would be a good idea to talk a bit about everything that went into LXD since we first started that project a year and a half ago.

LXD logo

This is going to be a blog post series similar to what I’ve done for LXC 1.0 a couple years back.

The topics that will be covered are:

Related posts:

I’m hoping to post a couple of those every week for the coming month and a half leading to the Ubuntu 16.04 release.

If you can’t wait for all of those to come out to play with LXD, you can also take the guided tour and play with LXD, online through our online demo page.

Posted in Canonical voices, LXD, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged | 82 Comments

NorthSec 2015: behind the scenes

TLDR: NorthSec is an incredible security event, our CTF simulates a whole internet for every participating team. This allows us to create just about anything, from a locked down country to millions of vulnerable IoT devices spread across the globe. However that flexibility comes at a high cost hardware-wise, as we’re getting bigger and bigger, we need more and more powerful servers and networking gear. We’re very actively looking for sponsors so get in touch with me or just buy us something on Amazon!

What’s NorthSec?

NorthSec is one of the biggest on-site Capture The Flag (CTF), security contest in North America. It’s organized yearly over a weekend in Montreal (usually in May) and since the last edition, has been accompanied by a two days security conference before the CTF itself. The rest of this post will only focus on the CTF part though.

the-room

A view of the main room at NorthSec 2015

Teams arrive at the venue on Friday evening, get setup at their table and then get introduced to this year’s scenario and given access to our infrastructure. There they will have to fight their way through challenges, each earning them points and letting them go further and further. On Sunday afternoon, the top 3 teams are awarded their prize and we wrap up for the year.

Size wise, for the past two years we’ve had a physical limit of up to 32 teams of 8 participants and then a bunch of extra unaffiliated visitors. For the 2016 edition, we’re raising this to 50 teams for a grand total of 400 participants, thanks to some shuffling at the venue making some more room for us.

Why is it special?

The above may sound pretty simple and straightforward, however there are a few important details that sets NorthSec apart from other CTFs.

  • It is entirely on-site. There are some very big online CTFs out there but very few on-site ones. Having everyone participating in the same room is valuable from a networking point of view but also ensures fairness by enforcing fixed size teams and equal network bandwidth and latency.
  • Every team gets its very own copy of the whole infrastructure. There are no shared services in the simulated world we provide them. That means one team’s actions cannot impact another.
  • Each simulation is its own virtual world with its own instance of the internet, we use hundreds of LXC containers and thousands of VLANs and networks FOR EVERY TEAM to provide the most realistic and complete environment you can think of.
World map of our fake internet

World map of our fake internet

What’s our infrastructure like?

Due to the very high bandwidth and low latency requirements, most of the infrastructure is hosted on premises and on our hardware. We do plan on offloading Windows virtual machines to a public cloud for the next edition though.

We also provide a mostly legacy free environment to our contestants, all of our challenges are connected to IPv6-only networks and run on 64bit Ubuntu LTS  in LXC with state of the art security configurations.

Our rack

Our rack, on location at NorthSec 2015

 

All in all, for 32 teams (last year’s edition), we had:

  • 48000 virtual network interfaces
  • 2000 virtual carriers
  • 16000 BGP routers
  • 17000 Ubuntu containers
  • 100 Windows virtual machines
  • 20000 routing table entries

And all of that was running on:

  • Two firewalls (DELL SC1425)
  • Two infrastructure servers (DELL SC1425)
  • One management server (HP DL380 G5)
  • Four main contest hosts (HP DL380 G5)
  • Three backup contest hosts (DELL C6100)

On average we had 7 full simulations and 21 virtual machines running on every host (the backup hosts only had one each). That means each of the main contest hosts had:

  • 10500 virtual network interfaces
  • 435 virtual carriers
  • 3500 BGP routers
  • 3700 Ubuntu containers
  • 21 Windows virtual machines
  • 4375 routing table entries

Not too bad for servers that are (SC1425) or are getting close (DL380 G5) to being 10 years old now.

Past infrastructure challenges

In the past editions we’ve found numerous bugs in the various technologies we use when put under such a crazy load:

  • A variety of switch firmware bugs when dealing with several thousand IPv6-only networks.
  • Multiple Linux IPv6 kernel bugs (and one security issue) also related to an excess of IPv6 multicast traffic.
  • Several memory leaks and other bugs in LXC and related components that become very visible when you’re running upwards of 10000 containers.
  • Several more Linux kernel bugs related to performance scaling as we create more and more namespaces and nested namespaces.

As our infrastructure staff is very invested in these technologies by being upstream developers or contributors to the main projects we use, those bugs were all rapidly reported, discussed and fixed. We always look forward to the next NorthSec as an opportunity to test the latest technology at scale in a completely controlled environment.

How can you help?

As I mentioned, we’ve been capped at 32 teams and around 300 attendees for the past two years. Our existing hardware was barely sufficient  to handle  the load during those two editions, we urgently need to refresh our hardware to offer the best possible experience to our participants.

We’re planning on replacing most if not all of our hardware with slightly more recent equivalents, also upgrading from rotating drives to SSDs and improving our network. On the software side, we’ll be upgrading to a newer Linux kernel, possibly to Ubuntu 16.04, switch from btrfs to zfs and from LXC to LXD.

We are a Canadian non-profit organization with all our staff being volunteers so we very heavily rely on sponsors to be able to make the event a success.

If you or your company would like to help by sponsoring our infrastructure, get in touch with me. We have several sponsoring levels and can get you the visibility you’d like, ranging from a mention on our website and at the event to on-site presence with a recruitment booth and even, if our interests align, inclusion of your product in some of our challenges.

We also have an Amazon wishlist of smaller (cheaper) items that we need to buy in the near future. If you buy something from the list, get in touch so we can properly thank you!

Oh and as I briefly mentioned at the beginning, we have a two days, single-track conference ahead of the CTF. We’re actively looking for speakers, if you have something interesting to present, the CFP is here.

Extra resources

Posted in Canonical voices, LXC, LXD, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged | 7 Comments