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Subject[PATCH] capabilities: Introduce CAP_RESTORE
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
#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 <>
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

+/* Allow checkpoint/restore related operations */
+/* Allow PID selection during clone3() */
+/* Allow writing to ns_last_pid */
+#define CAP_RESTORE 40

#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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