Arch VServer

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Revision as of 08:45, 10 April 2013 by Fengchao (talk | contribs) (Preparing the guest installation media: Remove rc.conf info.)
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This article aims to provide all necessary information regarding the creation of a vserver host as well as vserver guests running Arch Linux. This will enable you to setup virtual servers that provide different services as if they were on different machines, with a very little overhead. You can get more information about virtual servers here.

Preparing the Host

To prepare the vserver host environment, you will need to install both a vserver patched kernel, the vserver utilities and their dependencies which are located in the AUR. The required packages are dietlibcAUR, beecryptAUR, kernel26-vserverAUR (not found or linux-vserverAUR orphan), and util-vserverAUR

Paths of Interest

/etc/vservers : configuration root ( reference )

/etc/vservers/.defaults : configuration skeleton used when building new guests
/etc/vservers/.defaults/vdirbase : symlink to the folder containing vserver guests. This defaults to /vservers.
/etc/vservers/<guest name> : guest specific configurations

Preparing the Guests

Vserver will launch guests from subfolders of /etc/vservers/.defaults/vdirbase. As such, creating a new guest system is as simple as installing the required packages in a folder of the host. Furthermore, there's nothing stopping you ( and quite a few things encouraging you ) to mount filesystems to the subfolders of vdirbase and installing your guest in there.

If you plan on doing this often, I highly recommend that you write yourself a little batch script since most of these steps can be automated quite easily.

Preparing the guest installation media

NOTE : This is all heavily inspired from Install From Existing Linux and will therefore be quite brief when not mentioning Vserver specific steps.

Optional: Base variables to follow along with the steps

GuestName= # Name of the guest
GuestPackages= # Listing of packages to install via pacman
GuestDisk= # Installation target device
GuestNetDevice= # ex.: eth0, dummy0, etc...
GuestIP= # I think you get it
GuestContext= # Unique identifier for the guest, I go with the last part of the IP

Optional: Preparing the guest disk

  1. Create a LVM Physical Volume, a Volume Group and a Logical Volume ( wiki:LVM )
  2. Create a filesystem on the lvm volume
  3. mkdir $GuestRoot
  4. mount /dev/$GuestDisk $GuestRoot

Optional: Link the host and guest pacman cache

  1. mkdir $GuestRoot/var/cache/pacman/pkg
  2. mount -o bind /var/cache/pacman/pkg $GuestRoot/var/cache/pacman/pkg

Prepare Vserver

  1. vserver $GuestName -m skeleton --context $GuestContext --interface $GuestNetDevice:$GuestIP --flags lock,virt_mem,virt_uptime,virt_cpu,virt_load,sched_hard,hide_netif --initstyle plain
  2. (optional) cd /etc/vservers/$GuestName/interfaces
  3. (optional) cp -r 0 1
  4. (optional) echo 'lo' > dev
  5. (optional) echo '127.0.0.$GuestContext' > ip

Prepare the guest's filesystem

  1. Prepare guest filesystem for the pacman db
    1. mkdir -p /newarch/var/lib/pacman

Install the base system

NOTE : To save some time, it's probably a good idea to create a text file containing all the packages to install and call it via "pacman -S `cat $GuestPackages` -r $GuestRoot" instead of the following :

  1. pacman -S base -r $GuestRoot
  2. Optional: If you want to chroot into the newly created guest so as to install new packages, it might be a good idea to mount a few filesystems required by some packages.
    1. Bind /dev, /proc, /sys to the corresponding directories in $GuestRoot
  3. Modify guest configuration files to enable a smoother boot process
    1. Modify /etc/rc.shutdown by removing anything hardware/clock/mount related. This includes most everything under Saving Random Seed'.
    2. Modify /etc/rc.sysinit by anything hardware/clock/mount related.
    3. Modify /etc/syslog-ng.conf by removing file("/proc/kmsg")


Viewing output from vserver $GuestName start / stop

NOTE : For me, this only worked in the actual consoles, not in X.

  1. Make sure that the device /dev/console exists in the guest
    1. If it does not, cp -a /dev/console $GuestRoot/dev/

SSH will not start

I noticed that /dev/null did not always get created properly in my first experimentations. Therefore I did a quick :

  1. cp -a /dev/null $GuestRoot/dev
  2. cp -a /dev/zero $GuestRoot/dev

Furthermore, if you're not using the dummy network driver and are attaching to the host's network interface, you'll want to configure the ListenAddress statement of /etc/ssh/sshd_config so that it binds only to the guest's IP address as opposed to

SSH immediately terminates the connection

On my machine, SSH used to authenticate me correctly and log me in, but then immediately drop the connection without an explanation. Consulting /var/log/auth.log revealed the following:

sshd[17899]: pam_limits(sshd:session): Could not set limit for 'nice': Operation not permitted

This is easily fixed by commenting all nice related lines in /etc/security/limits.conf.

Tips & Trick

Network via dummy adapters

Here, you're either using the dummy module to create virtual network adapters or created interface aliases via /usr/sbin/ip or /usr/sbin/ifconfig. I went for the former and configured the host as such :

  1. /etc/sysctl.conf : net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

Modify or add that statement to enable routing on the host

  1. /etc/rc.local
modprobe dummy numdummies=$NumberOfGuests
ip link set dev dummy$GuestContext name $GuestName

This provides me with dummy interfaces that I can route / firewall that are all named the same as my guests... yay.

More Resources

Problematic Programs
Make BSD style init SYSV compatible
Vserver tutorial's Installation on ArchLinux's networking tutorial