Cgroups are now handled a bit differently in Xenial

In the past, when you logged into an Ubuntu system, you would receive and be logged into a cgroup which you owned, one per controller (i.e. memory, freezer, etc). The main reason for this is so that unprivileged users can use things like lxc.

However this caused some trouble, especially through the cpuset controller. The problem is that when a cpu is plugged in, it is not added to any existing cpusets (in the legacy cgroup hierarchy, which we use). This is true even if you previously unplugged that cpu. So if your system has two cpus, when you first login you have cpus 0-1. 1 gets unplugged and replugged, now you only have 0. Now 0 gets unplugged…

The cgroup creation previously was done through a systemd patch, and is not configurable. In Xenial, we’ve now reduced that patch to only work on the name=systemd cgroup. Other controllers are to be handled by the new libpam-cgm package. By default it only creates a cgroup for the freezer controller. You can change the list by editing /etc/pam.d/common-session. For instance to add memory, you would change the line

optional -c freezer


optional -c freezer,memory

One more change expected to come to Xenial is to switch libpam-cgm to using lxcfs instead of cgmanager (or, just as likely, create a new conflicting libpam-cgroup package which does so). Since Xenial and later systems use systemd, which won’t boot without lxcfs anyway, we’ll lose no functionality by requiring lxcfs for unprivileged container creation on login.

On a side note, reducing the set of user-owned cgroups also required a patch to lxc. This means that in a mixture of nested lxcs, you may run into trouble if using nested unprivileged containers in older releases. For instance, if you create an unprivileged Trusty container on a Xenial host, you won’t own the memory cgroup by default, even if you’re root in the container. At the moment Trusty’s lxc doesn’t know how to handle that yet to create a nested container. The lxc patches should hopefully get SRUd, but in the meantime you can use the ubuntu-lxc ppas to get newer packages if needed. (Note that this is a non-issue when running lxd on the host.)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s