Re: [vserver] NetApp filers and NFS junctions: Operation not permitted

From: CÚdric Dufour - Idiap Research Institute <>
Date: Thu 23 Jul 2009 - 14:22:09 BST
Message-ID: <>

Hello again,

After some research in the kernel tree, it seems that the
'vfs_kern_mount' function gets called directly:
 - to handle CIFS DFS (in function 'cifs_dfs_do_refmount')
 - to handle AFS automounts (in function 'afs_mntpt_do_automount')
 - to handle NFS "junctions" (in function 'nfs_follow_mountpoint')
In other words, for all file systems that require some in-kernel
"sub-mounting", and which should NOT be blocked in anyway (provided the
"root" mount point has been successfully mounted, see below)

Indirectly (via 'do_kern_mount'), to performs actual "out-of-kernel"
mount requests.

Indirectly (via 'kern_mount_data', with a MS_KERNMOUNT flag that is used
subsequently by 'selinux_sb_kern_mount' to relax security) for:
 - '/proc' sub-system
 - IPC sub-system

This suggests that the capability checks achieved in 'vfs_kern_mount'
would - maybe - be better fitted and adapted in the calling
 - in 'do_new_mount' for actual file systems mount (where we find an
existing 'capable('CAP_SYS_ADMIN')' test ;-) )
 - ... I don't know about /proc and IPC ... (but aren't handling the
former with the 'PROC_SUPER_MAGIC' flag ?)

What do you think ?

CÚdric Dufour @ Idiap Research Institute

On 23/07/09 13:19, CÚdric Dufour - Idiap Research Institute wrote:
> Hello,
> We are currently putting our new NetApp ONTAP GX system into
> production. From the NFS point of view, the particularity of this
> product is that it allows to "assemble" multiple volumes within a
> "unified" namespace, using so-called "junctions", and access this
> "unified" namespace with a (apparently) single mount operation.
> Now, when using VServer - even from the host point of view - only the
> root user is able to "roam" through the mounted hierarchy (as separate
> volumes get automatically mounted in the background and appear in
> '/proc/mounts'). Non-root user get a "Operation not permitted" message
> as soon as they try to go pass the initially mounted volume.
> This problem seem absolutely similar to what was discussed in this
> thread:
> We have verified that removing the VServer-added checks in the
> 'vfs_kern_mount' function (in '<kernel-source>/fs/super.c') "solves"
> the problem (we used the latest vanilla kernel and
> VServer patches to perform this verification).
> Now to the questions:
> 1. What is the security impact of removing those checks (iow. is it a
> "MUST NOT!!!" or a "well... that's being overkill anyway" ) ?
> 2. Can we imagine to perform those checks slightly differently, in
> order to allow non-root users to use such "joined" NFS exports, both
> from the host and guests (since we're no kernel gurus, we don't know
> which function/capability to start looking for) ?
> Thank you very much for your help and time.
> Cheers
> --
> CÚdric Dufour @ Idiap Research Institute
> Phone: +41 27 721 77 40
> Fax: +41 27 721 77 12
> Mail: Idiap Research Institute
> Case postale 592
> Centre du Parc
> 1920 Martigny (VS)
> Suisse (Switzerland)
> Web: <>

Received on Thu Jul 23 14:22:26 2009
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