Category Archives: Arkose

Using Arkose for development and packaging

Since I last reinstalled my laptop, I try to keep my usually insanely long list of installed packages to a bare minimum. I’d usually have hundreds if not thousands of libraries and development packages as these are required by a bunch of packages I maintain or code I work on.

To achieve this and still be as productive as before (if not more), I’m using arkose quite a lot to generate temporary dev/build environment that are wiped as soon as I close the shell.
This helps maintain the number of extra libraries to a minimum, avoiding situations where something mysteriously works fine on my laptop but not on another machine and avoids the maintenance needed when dealing with chroots.

Arkose used to install libdbus-1-dev

An example of this is when I’m working on ubiquity (the Ubuntu graphical installer).
Ubiquity depends on quite a few libraries and development packages that are required even if you just want to build its source package.

So having arkose installed on my system, I usually start working on a bug with:

sudo arkose -n -h -c "cd $PWD; $SHELL"

You can make that an alias if you use it quite often. At this point, you’ll see your shell showing a different hostname, like “arkose-tmpaF9yqa”, that’s how you know you’re in a container.
The command above creates a new container using copy-on-write for all the file system but your home directory and lets the container access the network without any restriction.

I then install all the packages I’ll need to work

sudo apt-get build-dep ubiquity

Then work as usual in that container, run debuild, dput, … everything should work as usual as it has direct access to my home directory.

Once I’m done and I don’t need all these packages anymore, I just exit that shell and all the changes done outside of /home will be lost.

Posted in Arkose, Canonical voices, LXC, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged | 17 Comments

Arkose 1.3.1 released

Last week I was in Austin, TX where a bunch of people with interest in getting containers working on Linux were meeting for the Oneiric Container Sprint.
We all had a very productive week with a lot of work being done on LXC, the kernel namespaces and Arkose.

Right before the Ubuntu Feature Freeze last Thursday, I released Arkose 1.3 brining most of the features I wanted for Ubuntu 11.10.

Here’s a brief list of the new stuff Arkose can do:

  • All the UIs and CLIs now support translation with an initial (rough) french translation already available.
  • DBUS filtering is now included in Arkose and available through the wrapper. The gedit example profile is using it.
  • It’s now possible to temporarily modify a wrapper profile before starting it.
  • Device support has been changed to no longer be limited to /dev/video* devices.

Some bugs have also been fixed, most of them in Arkose 1.3.1 (released yesterday):

  • Make the Global Menu integration (dbusmenu) work with Ubuntu Oneiric
  • Update the test suite
  • Fix arkose-cli’s help to be a lot more accurate
  • Restrict LXC’s configuration to the bare minimal
  • Use point-to-point network configuration in filtered mode (rather than a /30 per container)
  • Make sure everything in the container gets properly killed on exit
  • Fix Arkose to handle command line parameters properly (instead of just ignoring them)

That’s all available in current Ubuntu Oneiric as well as in the arkose stable PPA for Ubuntu 10.10 and Ubuntu 11.04.

Sadly one feature didn’t make it in time for Feature Freeze, that’s the advanced firewalling in filtered network mode. I’ll probably be working on it on the side and push it to a 1.4 branch that’ll be used for Oneiric+1.

I’ll now mostly be focusing on bugfixes for the remaining of the cycle and polishing some of the existing features. So please, test it and file bugs!

If you want to help with the translation effort, you can go translate Arkose on Launchpad or just send me a .po and I’ll do it for you.

For these who want to run the current upstream code, get the bzr branch:
bzr branch lp:arkose

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Introducing Arkose’s protocol aware DBUS filtering proxy

As part of my work on Arkose, trying to make desktop application containing easy, I’ve been working over the last month or so on a protocol aware DBUS proxy.

I based my work on Alban’s DBUS proxy for N900, made the proxy work with multiple connections and added support for logging and filtering of the connections.

The result is profiles like this one:
outgoing;org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties;/com/canonical/menu/*;PropertiesChanged
outgoing;com.canonical.AppMenu.Registrar;/com/canonical/AppMenu/Registrar;RegisterWindow
outgoing;com.canonical.dbusmenu;/com/canonical/menu/*;LayoutUpdated
outgoing;com.canonical.dbusmenu;/com/canonical/menu/*;ItemsPropertiesUpdated

incoming;org.freedesktop.DBus.Properties;/com/canonical/menu/*;GetAll
incoming;com.canonical.dbusmenu;/com/canonical/menu/*;GetLayout
incoming;com.canonical.dbusmenu;/com/canonical/menu/*;Event
incoming;com.canonical.dbusmenu;/com/canonical/menu/*;AboutToShow
incoming;com.canonical.dbusmenu;/com/canonical/menu/*;GetGroupProperties

Which in this case will allow the applications using the proxy to access the global menu DBUS API and receive events from the Global menu, but not for example dump your gnome keyring.

Here’s the output you’d get when running gedit using the above profile:
http://www.stgraber.org/download/gedit-dbus-arkose.log

Now that the proxy works as expected, I’ll work on integrating it into Arkose itself and expose it in the wrapper GUI.

To try the proxy, you can grab Arkose’s trunk branch at:
bzr branch lp:~arkose-devel/arkose/trunk/

Build the proxy (you’ll need glib and dbus) and then run it with:
./proxy /tmp/arkose_dbus profiles/dbusmenu.conf

Starting clients like this:
DBUS_SESSION_BUS_ADDRESS=unix:path=/tmp/arkose_dbus gedit

Posted in Arkose, Canonical voices, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged | 5 Comments

Busy week for Arkose

So last week I was in Dublin with my colleagues hacking on Oneiric. Most of the week has been spent either testing/fixing Ubuntu’s IPv6 support (more about that soon) or working on Arkose.

On Monday I released version 1.1 that was mostly bugfixes and introduced a new profile for Skype. Then after that I started working on the interesting stuff to end up releasing 1.2.1 on Thursday evening.

The new features are:

  • Filtered network support (one interface per container, routed/firewalled)
  • Video devices passthrough  (useful for Skype)
  • Support bind mount of files (thanks to Colin Watson)
  • Reworked UI for the wrapper

A lot of bugfixes also went in during the week. Now when Arkose crashes or raises an exception, it should deal with it properly, unmount everything and exit rather than leaving you with a lot of entries in your mount table.

The new Skype profile now lets you start Skype in an environment where it’ll only be able to see its configuration file, run on a separate isolated X server, access pulseaudio on a separate socket and only access the few video devices Arkose detected.

During the week I also spent some time talking to the Ubuntu Security team who also happen to be upstreams for Apparmor. In the future Arkose should start using Apparmor in cases where we don’t need an actual LXC container (depending on the profiles).

I also started working on a protocol-aware DBUS proxy based on the work from Alban Crequy so that Arkose should soon be able to filter what DBUS calls an app is allowed to do and prompt the user when accessing restricted information (keyring, contacts, …).
I’m hoping to have this merged into Arkose’s trunk branch this week.

After that I plan on spending some time implementing the network restrictions on top of the new “filtered network” support I introduced last week. Initially that should cover restricting an app to non-private (rfc1918) networks and eventually support fine grained filtering (destination and port).

Version 1.2.1 is available as tarballs on Launchpad or from the bzr branch or in current Ubuntu Oneiric. PPA builds are also available for Maverick and Natty.

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“App” containing on the modern Linux desktop

(Just released Arkose 1.0 that’s a full rewrite in python using LXC and introducing a nice GUI for fine grained app restriction. Read below for details.)

Those of you who read my blog know that I’ve been working on a pet-project of mine called Arkose.
This project is used as the base for WebLive‘s feature allowing users to easily test any package in the Ubuntu archive.

At the Ubuntu Developer Summit, last month in Hungary, I was leading a session on application containing and gathered ideas on how to improve the safety of our user’s desktop while still making it easy for app developers.

Today, I’d like to present you with the initial result, the new version of Arkose which I ended up releasing as 1.0 (as it’s a full rewrite).

The biggest new feature is the “wrapper” that can be used by packagers or upstreams to specify what the software will have access to, so Arkose will spawn a container that only has access to these resources.

Arkose wrapper for gedit

Current access controls include:
– Which user to run the software as (current user or root user)
– Network access (currently, all or nothing)
– X server access (either no access at all, an independent X server using xpra or direct X access)
– DBUS access (any combination of session bus, system bus or no dbus access at all)
– Pulseaudio access (enabled or not)

Then the app can specify a list of paths using one of these options:
– Direct filesystem access with read/write depending on user permissions
– Overlay filesystem access, similar to direct but all changes are dropped when the app exits
– Temporary empty directory. created and available to the app and dropped when the app exits

As an example, here’s the definition file for a completely isolated “xeyes”:
[xeyes]
cmd="xeyes"
runas=user
network=false
xserver=isolated
dbus=none
pulseaudio=false
mount_bind=
mount_cow=
mount_restrict=

In this case, xeyes will appear almost as it’d in a regular environment. The only difference you’ll notice is that it won’t follow your mouse unless it’s in xeyes’ window. Also, if xeyes was to have some bug, it wouldn’t be able to eavesdrop on dbus, do any damage to the filesystem or even play a sound.

This 1.0 release is available for download at:
https://launchpad.net/arkose/trunk/1.0
Development code is available on Launchpad at:
https://code.launchpad.net/~arkose-devel/arkose/trunk
I have PPA builds for Maverick and Natty at:
https://launchpad.net/~arkose-devel/+archive/stable
The package also just got uploaded to Ubuntu Oneiric.

To start the gedit from the screenshot above, use:
arkose-wrapper-gui /usr/share/doc/arkose/examples/profiles/gedit.conf
Some other example profiles are available in:
/usr/share/doc/arkose/examples/profiles/

Here’s an example of how to use the new python module:
import arkose
container=arkose.ArkoseContainer(xserver="isolated",pulseaudio=True,network=True)
container.run_command("su stgraber -c xterm")
container.cleanup()

That will start an xterm as the user “stgraber” on an isolated X server and with pulseaudio and network support.

Next step for the project is to improve the GUI part, add all the new cool features to the old commands (arkose and arkose-gui), work on fine grained network access control and allow for translations. 1.1 should be released relatively soon with bug fixes and maybe some of these features.

I appreciate any comment or bug report. Comments can be left on this blog and bug reports on Launchpad: https://launchpad.net/arkose/+filebug

Posted in Arkose, Canonical voices, LXC, Planet Ubuntu | Tagged | 11 Comments