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PID namespaces

  • The Process ID (PID) namespaces provide the ability for a process to have an ID that already exists in the default namespace, for example an ID of 1. This allows for an init system to run in a container with various other processes, without causing a collision with the rest of the PIDs on the same OS.

To demonstrate this concept, open up pid_namespace.c:

#define _GNU_SOURCE 
#include <stdlib.h> 
#include <stdio.h> 
#include <signal.h> 
#include <sched.h> 
static int childFunc(void *arg) 
    printf("Process ID in child  = %ld\n", (long) getpid()); 

First, we include the headers and define the childFunc function that the clone() system call will use. The function prints out the child PID using the getpid() system call:

static char child_stack[1024*1024]; 
int main(int argc, char *argv[]) 
    pid_t child_pid; 
    child_pid = clone(childFunc, child_stack + 
    printf("PID of cloned process: %ld\n", (long) child_pid); 
    waitpid(child_pid, NULL, 0); 

In the main() function, we specify the stack size and call clone(), passing the child function childFunc, the stack pointer, the CLONE_NEWPID flag, and the SIGCHLD signal. The CLONE_NEWPID flag instructs clone() to create a new PID namespace and the SIGCHLD flag notifies the parent process when one of its children terminates. The parent process will block on waitpid() if the child process has not terminated.

Compile and then run the program with the following:

root@server:~# gcc pid_namespace.c -o pid_namespace
root@server:~# ./pid_namespace
PID of cloned process: 17705
Process ID in child  = 1

From the output, we can see that the child process has a PID of 1 inside its namespace and 17705 otherwise.


Note that error handling has been omitted from the code examples for brevity.