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NAME

       pid_namespaces - overview of Linux PID namespaces

DESCRIPTION

       For an overview of namespaces, see namespaces(7).

       PID  namespaces  isolate  the process ID number space, meaning that processes in different
       PID namespaces can have  the  same  PID.   PID  namespaces  allow  containers  to  provide
       functionality  such  as  suspending/resuming  the  set  of  processes in the container and
       migrating the container to a new host while the processes inside  the  container  maintain
       the same PIDs.

       PIDs  in  a  new PID namespace start at 1, somewhat like a standalone system, and calls to
       fork(2), vfork(2), or clone(2) will produce processes with PIDs that are unique within the
       namespace.

       Use of PID namespaces requires a kernel that is configured with the CONFIG_PID_NS option.

   The namespace init process
       The  first  process  created  in a new namespace (i.e., the process created using clone(2)
       with the CLONE_NEWPID flag, or the first child created  by  a  process  after  a  call  to
       unshare(2)  using  the CLONE_NEWPID flag) has the PID 1, and is the "init" process for the
       namespace (see init(1)).  This process becomes the parent of any child processes that  are
       orphaned  because  a  process that resides in this PID namespace terminated (see below for
       further details).

       If the "init" process of a PID namespace terminates, the  kernel  terminates  all  of  the
       processes in the namespace via a SIGKILL signal.  This behavior reflects the fact that the
       "init" process is essential for the correct operation of a PID namespace.  In this case, a
       subsequent  fork(2) into this PID namespace fail with the error ENOMEM; it is not possible
       to create a new process in a PID namespace whose  "init"  process  has  terminated.   Such
       scenarios  can  occur  when,  for  example,  a  process uses an open file descriptor for a
       /proc/[pid]/ns/pid file corresponding to a process that was in  a  namespace  to  setns(2)
       into  that  namespace  after the "init" process has terminated.  Another possible scenario
       can occur after a call to unshare(2): if the first child subsequently created by a fork(2)
       terminates, then subsequent calls to fork(2) fail with ENOMEM.

       Only  signals for which the "init" process has established a signal handler can be sent to
       the "init" process by other members of the PID namespace.  This restriction  applies  even
       to privileged processes, and prevents other members of the PID namespace from accidentally
       killing the "init" process.

       Likewise, a process in an ancestor namespace can—subject to the  usual  permission  checks
       described  in  kill(2)—send signals to the "init" process of a child PID namespace only if
       the "init" process has established a handler for that signal.  (Within  the  handler,  the
       siginfo_t  si_pid  field  described in sigaction(2) will be zero.)  SIGKILL or SIGSTOP are
       treated exceptionally: these signals are forcibly delivered when sent from an ancestor PID
       namespace.   Neither  of  these  signals  can be caught by the "init" process, and so will
       result in the usual actions associated with those signals (respectively,  terminating  and
       stopping the process).

       Starting  with  Linux  3.4,  the  reboot(2)  system call causes a signal to be sent to the
       namespace "init" process.  See reboot(2) for more details.

   Nesting PID namespaces
       PID namespaces can be nested: each PID namespace has a  parent,  except  for  the  initial
       ("root") PID namespace.  The parent of a PID namespace is the PID namespace of the process
       that created the namespace using clone(2) or unshare(2).  PID namespaces thus form a tree,
       with  all namespaces ultimately tracing their ancestry to the root namespace.  Since Linux
       3.7, the kernel limits the maximum nesting depth for PID namespaces to 32.

       A process is visible to other processes in its PID namespace, and to the processes in each
       direct  ancestor  PID  namespace  going  back to the root PID namespace.  In this context,
       "visible" means that one process can be the target of operations by another process  using
       system  calls  that  specify  a  process  ID.   Conversely,  the  processes in a child PID
       namespace can't see processes in the parent and further removed ancestor namespaces.  More
       succinctly:  a  process  can  see  (e.g.,  send signals with kill(2), set nice values with
       setpriority(2), etc.) only processes contained in its own PID namespace and in descendants
       of that namespace.

       A process has one process ID in each of the layers of the PID namespace hierarchy in which
       is visible, and walking back though each direct ancestor namespace through to the root PID
       namespace.   System  calls that operate on process IDs always operate using the process ID
       that is visible in the PID namespace of the caller.  A call to  getpid(2)  always  returns
       the PID associated with the namespace in which the process was created.

       Some processes in a PID namespace may have parents that are outside of the namespace.  For
       example, the parent of the initial process in the namespace  (i.e.,  the  init(1)  process
       with  PID  1)  is  necessarily  in  another namespace.  Likewise, the direct children of a
       process that uses setns(2) to cause its  children  to  join  a  PID  namespace  are  in  a
       different  PID  namespace  from  the  caller  of  setns(2).   Calls to getppid(2) for such
       processes return 0.

       While processes may freely descend into child PID namespaces (e.g., using setns(2) with  a
       PID namespace file descriptor), they may not move in the other direction.  That is to say,
       processes may not enter any ancestor namespaces (parent, grandparent, etc.).  Changing PID
       namespaces is a one-way operation.

       The  NS_GET_PARENT  ioctl(2)  operation  can be used to discover the parental relationship
       between PID namespaces; see ioctl_ns(2).

   setns(2) and unshare(2) semantics
       Calls to setns(2) that specify a PID namespace file descriptor  and  calls  to  unshare(2)
       with  the CLONE_NEWPID flag cause children subsequently created by the caller to be placed
       in a different PID namespace from the caller.  (Since Linux 4.12, that  PID  namespace  is
       shown via the /proc/[pid]/ns/pid_for_children file, as described in namespaces(7).)  These
       calls do not, however, change the PID namespace of the calling process, because  doing  so
       would change the caller's idea of its own PID (as reported by getpid()), which would break
       many applications and libraries.

       To put things another way: a process's PID namespace membership  is  determined  when  the
       process  is created and cannot be changed thereafter.  Among other things, this means that
       the parental relationship between processes mirrors the parental relationship between  PID
       namespaces:  the  parent  of  a  process is either in the same namespace or resides in the
       immediate parent PID namespace.

       A process may call unshare(2)  with  the  CLONE_NEWPID  flag  only  once.   After  it  has
       performed  this  operation,  its /proc/PID/ns/pid_for_children symbolic link will be empty
       until the first child is created in the namespace.

   Adoption of orphaned children
       When a child process becomes orphaned, it is reparented to the "init" process in  the  PID
       namespace  of  its  parent  (unless one of the nearer ancestors of the parent employed the
       prctl(2)  PR_SET_CHILD_SUBREAPER  command  to  mark  itself  as  the  reaper  of  orphaned
       descendant  processes).   Note  that  because  of  the  setns(2)  and unshare(2) semantics
       described above, this may be the "init" process in the PID namespace that is the parent of
       the  child's  PID  namespace,  rather  than  the  "init"  process  in  the child's own PID
       namespace.

   Compatibility of CLONE_NEWPID with other CLONE_* flags
       In current versions of Linux, CLONE_NEWPID can't be combined with  CLONE_THREAD.   Threads
       are  required  to be in the same PID namespace such that the threads in a process can send
       signals to each other.  Similarly, it must be possible to see all  of  the  threads  of  a
       processes  in  the proc(5) filesystem.  Additionally, if two threads were in different PID
       namespaces, the process ID of the process sending  a  signal  could  not  be  meaningfully
       encoded when a signal is sent (see the description of the siginfo_t type in sigaction(2)).
       Since this is computed when a signal is enqueued, a signal queue shared  by  processes  in
       multiple PID namespaces would defeat that.

       In  earlier  versions of Linux, CLONE_NEWPID was additionally disallowed (failing with the
       error EINVAL) in combination with CLONE_SIGHAND (before Linux 4.3)  as  well  as  CLONE_VM
       (before  Linux 3.12).  The changes that lifted these restrictions have also been ported to
       earlier stable kernels.

   /proc and PID namespaces
       A /proc filesystem shows (in the /proc/[pid] directories) only processes  visible  in  the
       PID  namespace  of  the  process that performed the mount, even if the /proc filesystem is
       viewed from processes in other namespaces.

       After creating a new PID namespace, it  is  useful  for  the  child  to  change  its  root
       directory  and  mount  a  new  procfs  instance  at /proc so that tools such as ps(1) work
       correctly.  If a new mount namespace is simultaneously created by including CLONE_NEWNS in
       the  flags  argument of clone(2) or unshare(2), then it isn't necessary to change the root
       directory: a new procfs instance can be mounted directly over /proc.

       From a shell, the command to mount /proc is:

           $ mount -t proc proc /proc

       Calling readlink(2) on the path /proc/self yields the process ID of the caller in the  PID
       namespace  of  the  procfs  mount (i.e., the PID namespace of the process that mounted the
       procfs).  This can be useful for introspection purposes, when a process wants to  discover
       its PID in other namespaces.

   /proc files
       /proc/sys/kernel/ns_last_pid (since Linux 3.3)
              This file displays the last PID that was allocated in this PID namespace.  When the
              next PID is allocated, the kernel will search for the lowest unallocated  PID  that
              is  greater  than  this value, and when this file is subsequently read it will show
              that PID.

              This file is writable by a process that has the CAP_SYS_ADMIN capability inside its
              user  namespace.   This makes it possible to determine the PID that is allocated to
              the next process that is created inside this PID namespace.

   Miscellaneous
       When a process ID is passed over a UNIX domain socket to a  process  in  a  different  PID
       namespace  (see  the description of SCM_CREDENTIALS in unix(7)), it is translated into the
       corresponding PID value in the receiving process's PID namespace.

CONFORMING TO

       Namespaces are a Linux-specific feature.

EXAMPLE

       See user_namespaces(7).

SEE ALSO

       clone(2),  reboot(2),  setns(2),  unshare(2),  proc(5),  capabilities(7),  credentials(7),
       mount_namespaces(7), namespaces(7), user_namespaces(7), switch_root(8)

COLOPHON

       This  page  is  part of release 5.02 of the Linux man-pages project.  A description of the
       project, information about reporting bugs, and the latest version of  this  page,  can  be
       found at https://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/.