Writing the Nova file injection code to use libguestfs APIs instead of FUSE

Posted: November 15th, 2012 | Filed under: Fedora, libvirt, OpenStack, Security, Virt Tools | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

When launching a virtual machine, Nova has the ability to inject various files into the disk image immediately prior to boot up. This is used to perform the following setup operations:

  • Add an authorized SSH key for the root account
  • Configure init to reset SELinux labelling on /root/.ssh
  • Set the login password for the root account
  • Copy data into a number of user specified files
  • Create the meta.js file
  • Configure network interfaces in the guest

This file injection is handled by the code in the nova.virt.disk.api module. The code which does the actual injection is designed around the assumption that the filesystem in the guest image can be mapped into a location in the host filesystem. There are a number of ways this can be done, so Nova has a pluggable API for mounting guest images in the host, defined by the nova.virt.disk.mount module, with the following implementations:

  • Loop – Use losetup to create a loop device. Then use kpartx to map the partitions within the device, and finally mount the designated partition. Alternatively on new enough kernels the loop device’s builtin partition support is used instead of kpartx.
  • NBD – Use qemu-nbd to run a NBD server and attach with the kernel NBD client to expose a device. Then mapping partitions is handled as per Loop module
  • GuestFS – Use libguestfs to inspect the image and setup a FUSE mount for all partitions or logical volumes inside the image.

The Loop module can only handle Raw format files, while the NBD module can handle any format that QEMU supports. While they have the ability to access partitions, the code handling this is very dumb. It requires the Nova global ‘libvirt_inject_partition’ config parameter to specify which partition number to inject. The result is that every image you upload to glance must be partitioned in exactly the same way. Much better would be if it used a metadata parameter associated with the image. The GuestFS module is much more advanced and inspects the guest OS to figure out arbitrarily partitioned images and even LVM based images.

Nova has a “img_handlers” configuration parameter which defines the order in which the 3 mount modules above are to be tried. It tries to mount the image with each one in turn, until one suceeds. This is quite crude code really – it has already been hacked to avoid trying the Loop module if Nova knows it is using QCow2. It has to be changed by the Nova admin if they’re using LXC, otherwise you can end up using KVM with LXC guests which is probably not what you want. The try-and-fallback paradigm also has the undesirable behaviour of masking errors that you would really rather consider fatal to the boot process.

As mentioned earlier, the file injection code uses the mount modules to map the guest image filesystem into a temporary directory in the host (such as /tmp/openstack-XXXXXX). It then runs various commands like chmod, chown, mkdir, tee, etc to manipulate files in the guest image. Of course Nova runs as an unprivileged user, and the guest files to be changed are typically owned as root. This means all the file injection commands need to run via Nova’s rootwrap utility to gain root privileges. Needless to say, this has the undesirable consequence that the code injecting files into a guest image in fact has privileges that allow it to write to arbitrary areas of the host filesystem. One mistake in handling symlinks and you have the potential for a carefully crafted guest image to result in compromise of the host OS. It should come as little surprise that this has already resulted in a security vulnerability / CVE against Nova.

The solution to this class of security problems is to decouple the file injection code from the host filesystem. This can be done by introducing a “VFS” (Virtual File System) interface which defines a formal API for the various logical operations that need to be performed on a guest filesystem. With that it is possible to provide an implementation that uses the libguestfs native python API, rather than FUSE mounts. As well as being inherently more secure, avoiding the FUSE layer will improve performance, and allow Nova to utilize libguestfs APIs that don’t map into FUSE, such as its Augeas support for parsing config files. Nova still needs to work in scenarios where libguestfs is not available though, so a second implementation of the VFS APIs will be required based on the existing Loop/Nbd device mount approach. The security of the non-libguestfs support has not changed with this refactoring work, but de-coupling the file injection code from the host filesystem does make it easier to write unit tests for this code. The file injection code can be tested by mocking out the VFS layer, while the VFS implementations can be tested by mocking out the libguestfs or command execution APIs.

Incidentally if you’re wondering why Libguestfs does all its work inside a KVM appliance, its man page describes the security issues this approach protects against vs just directly mounting guest images on the host