To support containers, we now allow multiple instances of devpts filesystem,
such that indices of ptys allocated in one instance are independent of indices
allocated in other instances of devpts.
To preserve backward compatibility, this support for multiple instances is
enabled only if:
- CONFIG_DEVPTS_MULTIPLE_INSTANCES=y, and
- '-o newinstance' mount option is specified while mounting devpts
IOW, devpts now supports both single-instance and multi-instance semantics.
If CONFIG_DEVPTS_MULTIPLE_INSTANCES=n, there is no change in behavior and
this referred to as the "legacy" mode. In this mode, the new mount options
(-o newinstance and -o ptmxmode) will be ignored with a 'bogus option' message
If CONFIG_DEVPTS_MULTIPLE_INSTANCES=y and devpts is mounted without the
'newinstance' option (as in current start-up scripts) the new mount binds
to the initial kernel mount of devpts. This mode is referred to as the
'single-instance' mode and the current, single-instance semantics are
preserved, i.e PTYs are common across the system.
The only difference between this single-instance mode and the legacy mode
is the presence of new, '/dev/pts/ptmx' node with permissions 0000, which
can safely be ignored.
If CONFIG_DEVPTS_MULTIPLE_INSTANCES=y and 'newinstance' option is specified,
the mount is considered to be in the multi-instance mode and a new instance
of the devpts fs is created. Any ptys created in this instance are independent
of ptys in other instances of devpts. Like in the single-instance mode, the
/dev/pts/ptmx node is present. To effectively use the multi-instance mode,
open of /dev/ptmx must be a redirected to '/dev/pts/ptmx' using a symlink or
Eg: A container startup script could do the following:
$ chmod 0666 /dev/pts/ptmx
$ rm /dev/ptmx
$ ln -s pts/ptmx /dev/ptmx
$ ns_exec -cm /bin/bash
# We are now in new container
$ umount /dev/pts
$ mount -t devpts -o newinstance lxcpts /dev/pts
$ sshd -p 1234
where 'ns_exec -cm /bin/bash' calls clone() with CLONE_NEWNS flag and execs
/bin/bash in the child process. A pty created by the sshd is not visible in
the original mount of /dev/pts.
Total count of pty pairs in all instances is limited by sysctls:
kernel.pty.max = 4096 - global limit
kernel.pty.reserve = 1024 - reserve for initial instance
kernel.pty.nr - current count of ptys
Per-instance limit could be set by adding mount option "max=<count>".
This feature was added in kernel 3.4 together with sysctl kernel.pty.reserve.
In kernels older than 3.4 sysctl kernel.pty.max works as per-instance limit.
In multi-instance mode (i.e '-o newinstance' mount option is specified at least
once), following user-space issues should be noted.
1. If -o newinstance mount option is never used, /dev/pts/ptmx can be ignored
and no change is needed to system-startup scripts.
2. To effectively use multi-instance mode (i.e -o newinstance is specified)
administrators or startup scripts should "redirect" open of /dev/ptmx to
/dev/pts/ptmx using either a bind mount or symlink.
$ mount -t devpts -o newinstance devpts /dev/pts
followed by either
$ rm /dev/ptmx
$ ln -s pts/ptmx /dev/ptmx
$ chmod 666 /dev/pts/ptmx
$ mount -o bind /dev/pts/ptmx /dev/ptmx
3. The '/dev/ptmx -> pts/ptmx' symlink is the preferred method since it
enables better error-reporting and treats both single-instance and
multi-instance mounts similarly.
But this method requires that system-startup scripts set the mode of
/dev/pts/ptmx correctly (default mode is 0000). The scripts can set the
mode by, either
- adding ptmxmode mount option to devpts entry in /etc/fstab, or
- using 'chmod 0666 /dev/pts/ptmx'
4. If multi-instance mode mount is needed for containers, but the system
startup scripts have not yet been updated, container-startup scripts
should bind mount /dev/ptmx to /dev/pts/ptmx to avoid breaking single-
Or, in general, container-startup scripts should use:
mount -t devpts -o newinstance -o ptmxmode=0666 devpts /dev/pts
if [ ! -L /dev/ptmx ]; then
mount -o bind /dev/pts/ptmx /dev/ptmx
When all devpts mounts are multi-instance, /dev/ptmx can permanently be
a symlink to pts/ptmx and the bind mount can be ignored.
5. A multi-instance mount that is not accompanied by the /dev/ptmx to
/dev/pts/ptmx redirection would result in an unusable/unreachable pty.
mount -t devpts -o newinstance lxcpts /dev/pts
immediately followed by:
would create a pty, say /dev/pts/7, in the initial kernel mount.
But /dev/pts/7 would be invisible in the new mount.
6. The permissions for /dev/pts/ptmx node should be specified when mounting
/dev/pts, using the '-o ptmxmode=%o' mount option (default is 0000).
mount -t devpts -o newinstance -o ptmxmode=0644 devpts /dev/pts
The permissions can be later be changed as usual with 'chmod'.
chmod 666 /dev/pts/ptmx
7. A mount of devpts without the 'newinstance' option results in binding to
initial kernel mount. This behavior while preserving legacy semantics,
does not provide strict isolation in a container environment. i.e by
mounting devpts without the 'newinstance' option, a container could
get visibility into the 'host' or root container's devpts.
To workaround this and have strict isolation, all mounts of devpts,
including the mount in the root container, should use the newinstance