Solaris 10 Containers Released on OpenSolaris
By Jordan Vaughan on Oct 23, 2009
After roughly nine months of nonstop development, Jerry Jelinek integrated the first phase of solaris10-branded zones (a.k.a. Solaris 10 Containers) into OpenSolaris build 127 yesterday. Such zones enable users to host environments from Solaris 10 10/09 and later inside OpenSolaris zones. As mentioned in one of my earlier posts, we're developing solaris10-branded zones so that users can consolidate their Solaris 10 production environments onto machines running OpenSolaris and take advantage of many innovative OpenSolaris technologies (such as Crossbow) within such environments.
As Jerry mentioned in his blog, this first phase delivers emulation for Solaris 10 10/09, physical-to-virtual (p2v) and virtual-to-virtual (v2v) capabilities to help users deploy Solaris 10 environments in solaris10-branded zones, and support for all three OpenSolaris-supported platforms (sun4u, sun4v, and x86). He also explained that there are some limitations that will be addressed in the second phase of the project. However, he didn't mention that users are unable to use dtrace(1M) and mdb(1) on processes running in solaris10-branded zones if dtrace(1M) and mdb(1) are executed in the global zone. This resulted from incompatible changes made to some of the debugging libraries between Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris and it will be addressed during the second development phase. In the meantime, users can use dtrace(1M) and mdb(1) inside solaris10-branded zones to examine processes running inside of the zones.
If you are an OpenSolaris or Solaris 10 kernel developer, then I admonish you to read the Solaris10-Branded Zone Developer Guide, which explains the purpose and implementation of solaris10-branded zones as well as what you'll need to do to avoid breaking such zones. It's every kernel developer's responsibility to ensure that solaris10-branded zones will work with his/her changes to the Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris user-kernel interfaces (syscalls, ioctls, kstats, etc.).
This project was full of surprises and challenges. One of my favorite bugs involved Solaris 10's libc's use of the x86
%fs segment register. Solaris 10's libc expected the x86
%fs register to contain a nonzero selector value in 64-bit processes (Solaris 10's __curthread() returns
%fs is zero.), which was problematic because OpenSolaris' kernel cleared
%fs. Libc has always used
%fs to locate the current thread's
ulwp_t structure on 64-bit x86 machines. Therefore, 64-bit x86 processes running inside solaris10-branded zones were unable to use
thr_main(3C) and other critical libc functions as well as several common libraries, such as libdoor.
The fix was somewhat complicated because it had to guarantee that all threads in all 64-bit x86 processes running in solaris10-branded zones would start with nonzero
%fs registers. Fortunately, only two system calls modify
%fs in Solaris 10 and OpenSolaris:
SYS_lwp_private is a libc-private system call that's invoked once when libc initializes after a process execs (see OpenSolaris' implementation of
libc_init()) in order to configure the
FS segment so that its base lies at the start of the single thread's
SYS_lwp_create takes a
ucontext_t structure and the address of a
ulwp_t structure and creates a new thread for the calling process with the given thread context and an
FS segment beginning at the start of the specified
My initial fix did the following:
- The solaris10 brand's emulation library interposed on
s10_lwp_private(). It handed the system call to the OpenSolaris kernel untouched and afterwards invoked
thr_main(3C)to determine whether the Solaris 10 environment's libc worked after the kernel configured
-1, then the library invoked a special
SYS_brandsystem call to set
%fsto the old nonzero Solaris 10 selector value.
- The brand's emulation library also interposed on
s10_lwp_create()and tweaked the supplied ucontext_t structure so that the new thread started in
_thrp_setup(). Of course, new threads had to execute
_thrp_setup()'s address in a predetermined location in the new thread's stack.
thr_main(3C)to determine whether the Solaris 10 environment's libc worked when
%fswas zero. If
-1, then the new thread invoked the same
SYS_brandsystem call invoked by
s10_lwp_private()in order to correct
%fs. Afterwards, the new thread read its true entry point's address (i.e.,
_thrp_setup()'s address) from the predetermined location in its stack and jumped to the true entry point.
- The solaris10 brand's kernel module ensured that forked threads in solaris10-branded zones inherited their parents'
%fsselector values. This ensured that forked threads whose parents needed
%fsregister adjustments started with correct
I committed the fix and was content until a test engineer working on solaris10-branded zones, Mengwei Jiao, reported a segfault of a 64-bit x86 test in a solaris10-branded zone. I immediately suspected my fix because the test was multithreaded, yet I was surprised because I thoroughly tested my fix and never encountered segfaults. Mengwei's test created and immediately canceled a thread using pthread_create(3C) and pthread_cancel(3C). After spending hours debugging core dumps, I discovered that I forgot to consider signals while testing my fix.
The test segfaulted because its new thread read a junk address from its stack in
s10_lwp_create_entry_point() and jumped to it. Something clobbered the thread's stack and overwrote its true entry point's address. I noticed that the thread didn't start until its parent finished executing
pthread_cancel(3C), so I suspected that the delivery of the
SIGCANCEL signal clobbered the child's stack. It turned out that the child started in
s10_lwp_create_entry_point() as expected but immediately jumped to
sigacthandler() in libc to process the
SIGCANCEL signal. Such behavior might have been acceptable because the thread's true entry point's address was stored deep within the thread's stack (2KB from the top of the stack) and neither
sigacthandler() nor any of the functions it invoked consumed much stack space, but
memcpy(3C) to copy a
siginfo_t structure and the dynamic linker hadn't yet loaded
memcpy(3C) into the library's link map. Consequently, the thread executed
ld.so.1 routines in order to load
memcpy(3C) and fill its associated PLT entry. Eventually the thread's stack grew large enough for
ld.so.1 to clobber the thread's true entry point's address, which produced the junk address that later led to the segfault.
My final solution eliminated the use of new threads' stacks and instead stored entry points in new threads'
%r14 registers. Libc doesn't store any special initial values in new threads'
%r14 registers, so I was free to use
%r14. Additionally, any System V ABI-conforming functions invoked by
sigacthandler() had to preserve
%r14 is a callee-saved register), so it was impossible for such functions to clobber
%r14 as seen by
I also renamed
s10_lwp_create_correct_fs() and used a trick that I call sysent table patching to ensure that the brand library only causes
SYS_lwp_create to force new threads to start at
s10_lwp_private() determines that the Solaris 10 environment's libc can't function properly when
%fs is zero. The brand's emulation library accesses a global array called
s10_sysent_table to fetch system call handlers. An emulation function can change a system call's entry in the array in order to change the system call's handler. The emulation library invokes
s10_lwp_create() to emulate
SYS_lwp_create by default, which simply hands the system call to the OpenSolaris kernel untouched. If
s10_lwp_private() determines that new threads require nonzero
%fs selector values, then it modifies
s10_sysent_table so that
SYS_lwp_create system calls.
SYS_lwp_private is only invoked while a process is single-threaded, so races between
SYS_lwp_create are impossible.
I encourage you to download and install the latest version of OpenSolaris, update it to build 127 or later (once the builds become available), and try solaris10-branded zones. Jerry and I would appreciate any feedback you might have, which you can send to us via the zones-discuss discussion forum on opensolaris.org. Remember that solaris10-branded zones are capable of hosting production environments even though they are still being developed.