CPU model configuration for QEMU/KVM on x86 hosts

Posted: June 29th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Fedora, libvirt, OpenStack, Security, Virt Tools | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

With the various CPU hardware vulnerabilities reported this year, guest CPU configuration is now a security critical task. This blog post contains content I’ve written that is on its way to become part of the QEMU documentation.

QEMU / KVM virtualization supports two ways to configure CPU models

Host passthrough
This passes the host CPU model features, model, stepping, exactly to the guest. Note that KVM may filter out some host CPU model features if they cannot be supported with virtualization. Live migration is unsafe when this mode is used as libvirt / QEMU cannot guarantee a stable CPU is exposed to the guest across hosts. This is the recommended CPU to use, provided live migration is not required.
Named model
QEMU comes with a number of predefined named CPU models, that typically refer to specific generations of hardware released by Intel and AMD. These allow the guest VMs to have a degree of isolation from the host CPU, allowing greater flexibility in live migrating between hosts with differing hardware.

In both cases, it is possible to optionally add or remove individual CPU features, to alter what is presented to the guest by default.

Libvirt supports a third way to configure CPU models known as “Host model”. This uses the QEMU “Named model” feature, automatically picking a CPU model that is similar the host CPU, and then adding extra features to approximate the host model as closely as possible. This does not guarantee the CPU family, stepping, etc will precisely match the host CPU, as they would with “Host passthrough”, but gives much of the benefit of passthrough, while making live migration safe.

Recommendations for KVM CPU model configuration on x86 hosts

The information that follows provides recommendations for configuring CPU models on x86 hosts. The goals are to maximise performance, while protecting guest OS against various CPU hardware flaws, and optionally enabling live migration between hosts with hetergeneous CPU models.

Preferred CPU models for Intel x86 hosts

The following CPU models are preferred for use on Intel hosts. Administrators / applications are recommended to use the CPU model that matches the generation of the host CPUs in use. In a deployment with a mixture of host CPU models between machines, if live migration compatibility is required, use the newest CPU model that is compatible across all desired hosts.

Skylake-Server
Skylake-Server-IBRS
Intel Xeon Processor (Skylake, 2016)
Skylake-Client
Skylake-Client-IBRS
Intel Core Processor (Skylake, 2015)
Broadwell
Broadwell-IBRS
Broadwell-noTSX
Broadwell-noTSX-IBRS
Intel Core Processor (Broadwell, 2014)
Haswell
Haswell-IBRS
Haswell-noTSX
Haswell-noTSX-IBRS
Intel Core Processor (Haswell, 2013)
IvyBridge
IvyBridge-IBRS
Intel Xeon E3-12xx v2 (Ivy Bridge, 2012)
SandyBridge
SandyBridge-IBRS
Intel Xeon E312xx (Sandy Bridge, 2011)
Westmere
Westmere-IBRS
Westmere E56xx/L56xx/X56xx (Nehalem-C, 2010)
Nehalem
Nehalem-IBRS
Intel Core i7 9xx (Nehalem Class Core i7, 2008)
Penryn
Intel Core 2 Duo P9xxx (Penryn Class Core 2, 2007)
Conroe
Intel Celeron_4x0 (Conroe/Merom Class Core 2, 2006)

Important CPU features for Intel x86 hosts

The following are important CPU features that should be used on Intel x86 hosts, when available in the host CPU. Some of them require explicit configuration to enable, as they are not included by default in some, or all, of the named CPU models listed above. In general all of these features are included if using “Host passthrough” or “Host model”.

pcid
Recommended to mitigate the cost of the Meltdown (CVE-2017-5754) fix. Included by default in Haswell, Broadwell & Skylake Intel CPU models. Should be explicitly turned on for Westmere, SandyBridge, and IvyBridge Intel CPU models. Note that some desktop/mobile Westmere CPUs cannot support this feature.
spec-ctrl
Required to enable the Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715) fix, in cases where retpolines are not sufficient. Included by default in Intel CPU models with -IBRS suffix. Must be explicitly turned on for Intel CPU models without -IBRS suffix. Requires the host CPU microcode to support this feature before it can be used for guest CPUs.
ssbd
Required to enable the CVE-2018-3639 fix. Not included by default in any Intel CPU model. Must be explicitly turned on for all Intel CPU models. Requires the host CPU microcode to support this feature before it can be used for guest CPUs.
pdpe1gb
Recommended to allow guest OS to use 1GB size pages.Not included by default in any Intel CPU model. Should be explicitly turned on for all Intel CPU models. Note that not all CPU hardware will support this feature.

Preferred CPU models for AMD x86 hosts

The following CPU models are preferred for use on Intel hosts. Administrators / applications are recommended to use the CPU model that matches the generation of the host CPUs in use. In a deployment with a mixture of host CPU models between machines, if live migration compatibility is required, use the newest CPU model that is compatible across all desired hosts.

EPYC
EPYC-IBPB
AMD EPYC Processor (2017)
Opteron_G5
AMD Opteron 63xx class CPU (2012)
Opteron_G4
AMD Opteron 62xx class CPU (2011)
Opteron_G3
AMD Opteron 23xx (Gen 3 Class Opteron, 2009)
Opteron_G2
AMD Opteron 22xx (Gen 2 Class Opteron, 2006)
Opteron_G1
AMD Opteron 240 (Gen 1 Class Opteron, 2004)

Important CPU features for AMD x86 hosts

The following are important CPU features that should be used on AMD x86 hosts, when available in the host CPU. Some of them require explicit configuration to enable, as they are not included by default in some, or all, of the named CPU models listed above. In general all of these features are included if using “Host passthrough” or “Host model”.

ibpb
Required to enable the Spectre (CVE-2017-5753 and CVE-2017-5715) fix, in cases where retpolines are not sufficient. Included by default in AMD CPU models with -IBPB suffix. Must be explicitly turned on for AMD CPU models without -IBPB suffix. Requires the host CPU microcode to support this feature before it can be used for guest CPUs.
virt-ssbd
Required to enable the CVE-2018-3639 fix. Not included by default in any AMD CPU model. Must be explicitly turned on for all AMD CPU models. This should be provided to guests, even if amd-ssbd is also provided, for maximum guest compatibility. Note for some QEMU / libvirt versions, this must be force enabled when when using “Host model”, because this is a virtual feature that doesn’t exist in the physical host CPUs.
amd-ssbd
Required to enable the CVE-2018-3639 fix. Not included by default in any AMD CPU model. Must be explicitly turned on for all AMD CPU models. This provides higher performance than virt-ssbd so should be exposed to guests whenever available in the host. virt-ssbd should none the less also be exposed for maximum guest compatability as some kernels only know about virt-ssbd.
amd-no-ssb
Recommended to indicate the host is not vulnerable CVE-2018-3639. Not included by default in any AMD CPU model. Future hardware genarations of CPU will not be vulnerable to CVE-2018-3639, and thus the guest should be told not to enable its mitigations, by exposing amd-no-ssb. This is mutually exclusive with virt-ssbd and amd-ssbd.
pdpe1gb
Recommended to allow guest OS to use 1GB size pages. Not included by default in any AMD CPU model. Should be explicitly turned on for all AMD CPU models. Note that not all CPU hardware will support this feature.

Default x86 CPU models

The default QEMU CPU models are designed such that they can run on all hosts. If an application does not wish to do perform any host compatibility checks before launching guests, the default is guaranteed to work.

The default CPU models will, however, leave the guest OS vulnerable to various CPU hardware flaws, so their use is strongly discouraged. Applications should follow the earlier guidance to setup a better CPU configuration, with host passthrough recommended if live migration is not needed.

qemu32
qemu64
QEMU Virtual CPU version 2.5+ (32 & 64 bit variants). qemu64 is used for x86_64 guests and qemu32 is used for i686 guests, when no -cpu argument is given to QEMU, or no <cpu> is provided in libvirt XML.

Other non-recommended x86 CPUs

The following CPUs models are compatible with most AMD and Intel x86 hosts, but their usage is discouraged, as they expose a very limited featureset, which prevents guests having optimal performance.

kvm32
kvm64
Common KVM processor (32 & 64 bit variants). Legacy models just for historical compatibility with ancient QEMU versions.
486
athlon
phenom
coreduo
core2duo
n270
pentium
pentium2
pentium3
Various very old x86 CPU models, mostly predating the introduction of hardware assisted virtualization, that should thus not be required for running virtual machines.

Syntax for configuring CPU models

The example below illustrate the approach to configuring the various CPU models / features in QEMU and libvirt

QEMU command line

Host passthrough
   $ qemu-system-x86_64 -cpu host

With feature customization:

   $ qemu-system-x86_64 -cpu host,-vmx,...
Named CPU models
   $ qemu-system-x86_64 -cpu Westmere

With feature customization:

   $ qemu-system-x86_64 -cpu Westmere,+pcid,...

Libvirt guest XML

Host passthrough
   <cpu mode='host-passthrough'/>

With feature customization:

   <cpu mode='host-passthrough'>
       <feature name="vmx" policy="disable"/>
       ...
   </cpu>
Host model
   <cpu mode='host-model'/>

With feature customization:

   <cpu mode='host-model'>
       <feature name="vmx" policy="disable"/>
       ...
   </cpu>
Named model
   <cpu mode='custom'>
       <model name="Westmere"/>
   </cpu>

With feature customization:

   <cpu mode='custom'>
       <model name="Westmere"/>
       <feature name="pcid" policy="require"/>
       ...
   </cpu>

 

The Fedora virtualization software archive (aka virt-ark)

Posted: February 9th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Coding Tips, Fedora, libvirt, Virt Tools | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

With libvirt releasing 11 times a year and QEMU releasing three times a year, there is a quite large set of historical releases available by now. Both projects have a need to maintain compatibility across releases in varying areas. For QEMU the most important thing is that versioned machine types present the same guest ABI across releases. ie a ‘pc-2.0.0’ machine on QEMU 2.0.0, should be identical to a ‘pc-2.0.0’ machine on QEMU 2.5.0. If this rule is violated, the ability to live migrate and save/restore is doomed. For libvirt the most important thing is that a given guest configuration should be usable across many QEMU versions, even if the command line arguments required to achieve the configuration in QEMU have changed. This is key to libvirt’s promise that upgrading either libvirt or QEMU will not break either previously running guests, or future operations by the management tool. Finally management applications using libvirt may promise that they’ll operate with any version of libvirt or QEMU from a given starting version onwards. This is key to ensuring a management application can be used on a wide range of distros each with different libvirt/QEMU versions. To achieve this the application must be confident it hasn’t unexpectedly made use of a feature that doesn’t exist in a previous version of libvirt/QEMU that is intended to be supported.

The key to all this is of course automated testing. Libvirt keeps a record of capabilities associated with each QEMU version in its GIT repo along with various sample pairs of XML files and QEMU arguments. This is good for unit testing, but there’s some stuff that’s only really practical to validate well by running functional tests against each QEMU release. For live migration compatibility, it is possible to produce reports specifying the guest ABI for each machine type, on each QEMU version and compare them for differences. There are a huge number of combinations of command line args that affect ABI though, so it is useful to actually have the real binaries available for testing, even if only to dynamically generate the reports.

The COPR repository

With the background motivation out of the way, lets get to the point of this blog post. A while ago I created a Fedora copr repository that contained many libvirt builds. These were created in a bit of a hacky way making it hard to keep it up to date as new releases of libvirt come out, or as new Fedora repos need to be targeted. So in the past week, I’ve done a bit of work to put this on a more sustainable footing and also integrate QEMU builds.

As a result, there is a now a copr repo called ‘virt-ark‘ that currently targets Fedora 26 and 27, containing every QEMU version since 1.4.0 and every libvirt version since 1.2.0. That is 46 versions of libvirt dating back to Dec 2013, and 36 versions of QEMU dating back to Feb 2013. For QEMU I included all bugfix releases, which is why there are so many when there’s only 3 major releases a year compared to libvirt’s 11 major versions a year.

# rpm -qa | grep -E '(libvirt|qemu)-ark' | sort
libvirt-ark-1_2_0-1.2.0-1.x86_64
libvirt-ark-1_2_10-1.2.10-2.fc27.x86_64
libvirt-ark-1_2_11-1.2.11-2.fc27.x86_64
...snip...
libvirt-ark-3_8_0-3.8.0-2.fc27.x86_64
libvirt-ark-3_9_0-3.9.0-2.fc27.x86_64
libvirt-ark-4_0_0-4.0.0-2.fc27.x86_64
qemu-ark-1_4_0-1.4.0-3.fc27.x86_64
qemu-ark-1_4_1-1.4.1-3.fc27.x86_64
qemu-ark-1_4_2-1.4.2-3.fc27.x86_64
...snip....
qemu-ark-2_8_1-2.8.1-3.fc27.x86_64
qemu-ark-2_9_0-2.9.0-2.fc27.x86_64
qemu-ark-2_9_1-2.9.1-3.fc27.x86_64

Notice how the package name includes the version string. Each package version installs into /opt/$APP/$VERSION, eg /opt/libvirt/1.2.0 or /opt/qemu/2.4.0, so you can have them all installed at once and happily co-exist.

Using the custom versions

To launch a particular version of libvirtd

$ sudo /opt/libvirt/1.2.20/sbin/libvirtd

The libvirt builds store all their configuration in /opt/libvirt/$VERSION/etc/libvirt, and creates UNIX sockets in /opt/libvirt/$VERSION/var/run so will (mostly) not conflict with the main Fedora installed libvirt. As a result though, you need to use the corresponding virsh binary to connect to it

$ /opt/libvirt/1.2.20/bin/virsh

To test building or running another app against this version of libvirt set some environment variables

export PKG_CONFIG_PATH=/opt/libvirt/1.2.20/lib/pkgconfig
export LD_LIBRARY_PATH=/opt/libvirt/1.2.20/lib

For libvirtd to pick up a custom QEMU version, it must appear in $PATH before the QEMU from /usr, when libvirtd is started eg

$ su -
# export PATH=/opt/qemu/2.0.0/bin:$PATH
# /opt/libvirt/1.2.20/sbin/libvirtd

Alternatively just pass in the custom QEMU binary path in the guest XML (if the management app being tested supports that).

The build mechanics

When managing so many different versions of a software package you don’t want to be doing lots of custom work to create each one. Thus I have tried to keep everything as simple as possible. There is a Pagure hosted GIT repo containing the source for the builds. There are libvirt-ark.spec.in and qemu-ark.spec.in RPM specfile templates which are used for every version. No attempt is made to optimize the dependencies for each version, instead BuildRequires will just be the union of dependencies required across all versions. To keep build times down, for QEMU only the x86_64 architecture system emulator is enabled. In future I might enable the system emulators for other architectures that are commonly used (ppc, arm, s390), but won’t be enabling all the other ones QEMU has. The only trouble comes when newer Fedora releases include a change which breaks the build. This has happened a few times for both libvirt and QEMU. The ‘patches/‘ subdirectory thus contains a handful of patches acquired from upstream GIT repos to fix the builds. Essentially though I can run

$  make copr APP=libvirt ARCHIVE_FMT=xz DOWNLOAD_URL=https://libvirt.org/sources/ VERSION=1.3.0

Or

$  make copr APP=qemu ARCHIVE_FMT=xz DOWNLOAD_URL=https://download.qemu.org/ VERSION=2.6.0

And it will download the pristine upstream source, write a spec file including any patches found locally, create a src.rpm and upload this to the copr build service. I’ll probably automate this a little more in future to avoid having to pass so many args to make, by keeping a CSV file with all metadata for each version.

 

Improving QEMU security part 7: TLS support for migration

Posted: August 16th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Coding Tips, Fedora, libvirt, OpenStack, Security, Virt Tools | Tags: , , | No Comments »

This blog is part 7 of a series I am writing about work I’ve completed over the past few releases to improve QEMU security related features.

The live migration feature in QEMU allows a running VM to be moved from one host to another with no noticeable interruption in service and minimal performance impact. The live migration data stream will contain a serialized copy of state of all emulated devices, along with all the guest RAM. In some versions of QEMU it is also used to transfer disk image content, but in modern QEMU use of the NBD protocol is preferred for this purpose. The guest RAM in particular can contain sensitive data that needs to be protected against any would be attackers on the network between source and target hosts. There are a number of ways to provide such security using external tools/services including VPNs, IPsec, SSH/stunnel tunnelling. The libvirtd daemon often already has a secure connection between the source and destination hosts for its own purposes, so many years back support was added to libvirt to automatically tunnel the live migration data stream over libvirt’s own secure connection. This solved both the encryption and authentication problems at once, but there are some downsides to this approach. Tunnelling the connection means extra data copies for the live migration traffic and when we look at guests with RAM many GB in size, the number of data copies will start to matter. The libvirt tunnel only supports a tunnelling of a single data connection and in future QEMU may well wish to use multiple TCP connections for the migration data stream to improve performance of post-copy. The use of NBD for storage migration is not supported with tunnelling via libvirt, since it would require extra connections too. IOW while tunnelling over libvirt was a useful short term hack to provide security, it has outlived its practicality.

It is clear that QEMU needs to support TLS encryption natively on its live migration connections. The QEMU migration code has historically had its own distinct I/O layer called QEMUFile which mixes up tracking of migration state with the connection establishment and I/O transfer support. As mentioned in previous blog post, QEMU now has a general purpose I/O channel framework, so the bulk of the work involved converting the migration code over to use the QIOChannel classes and APIs, which greatly reduced the amount of code in the QEMU migration/ sub-folder as well as simplifying it somewhat. The TLS support involves the addition of two new parameters to the migration code. First the “tls-creds” parameter provides the ID of a previously created TLS credential object, thus enabling use of TLS on the migration channel. This must be set on both the source and target QEMU’s involved in the migration.

On the target host, QEMU would be launched with a set of TLS credentials for a server endpoint:

$ qemu-system-x86_64 -monitor stdio -incoming defer \
    -object tls-creds-x509,dir=/home/berrange/security/qemutls,endpoint=server,id=tls0 \
    ...other args...

To enable incoming TLS migration 2 monitor commands are then used

(qemu) migrate_set_str_parameter tls-creds tls0
(qemu) migrate_incoming tcp:myhostname:9000

On the source host, QEMU is launched in a similar manner but using client endpoint credentials

$ qemu-system-x86_64 -monitor stdio \
    -object tls-creds-x509,dir=/home/berrange/security/qemutls,endpoint=client,id=tls0 \
    ...other args...

To enable outgoing TLS migration 2 monitor commands are then used

(qemu) migrate_set_str_parameter tls-creds tls0
(qemu) migrate tcp:otherhostname:9000

The migration code supports a number of different protocols besides just “tcp:“. In particular it allows an “fd:” protocol to tell QEMU to use a passed-in file descriptor, and an “exec:” protocol to tell QEMU to launch an external command to tunnel the connection. It is desirable to be able to use TLS with these protocols too, but when using TLS the client QEMU needs to know the hostname of the target QEMU in order to correctly validate the x509 certificate it receives. Thus, a second “tls-hostname” parameter was added to allow QEMU to be informed of the hostname to use for x509 certificate validation when using a non-tcp migration protocol. This can be set on the source QEMU prior to starting the migration using the “migrate_set_str_parameter” monitor command

(qemu) migrate_set_str_parameter tls-hostname myhost.mydomain

This feature has been under development for a while and finally merged into QEMU GIT early in the 2.7.0 development cycle, so will be available for use when 2.7.0 is released in a few weeks. With the arrival of the 2.7.0 release there will finally be TLS support across all QEMU host services where TCP connections are commonly used, namely VNC, SPICE, NBD, migration and character devices.

In this blog series:

Improving QEMU security part 6: TLS support for character devices

Posted: August 16th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Coding Tips, Fedora, libvirt, OpenStack, Security, Virt Tools | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

This blog is part 6 of a series I am writing about work I’ve completed over the past few releases to improve QEMU security related features.

A number of QEMU device models and objects use a character devices for providing connectivity with the outside world, including the QEMU monitor, serial ports, parallel ports, virtio serial channels, RNG EGD object, CCID smartcard passthrough, IPMI device, USB device redirection and vhost-user. While some of these will only ever need a character device configured with local connectivity, some will certainly need to make use of TCP connections to remote hosts. Historically these connections have always been entirely in clear text, which is unacceptable in the modern hostile network environment where even internal networks cannot be trusted. Clearly the QEMU character device code requires the ability to use TLS for encrypting sensitive data and providing some level of authentication on connections.

The QEMU character device code was mostly using GLib’s  GIOChannel framework for doing I/O but this has a number of unsatisfactory limitations. It can not do vectored I/O, is not easily extensible and does not concern itself at all with initial connection establishment. These are all reasons why the QIOChannel framework was added to QEMU. So the first step in supporting TLS on character devices was to convert the code over to use QIOChannel instead of GIOChannel. With that done, adding in support for TLS was quite straightforward, merely requiring addition of a new configuration property (“tls-creds“) to set the desired TLS credentials.

For example to run a QEMU VM with a serial port listening on IP 10.0.01, port 9000, acting as a TLS server:

$ qemu-system-x86_64 \
      -object tls-creds-x509,id=tls0,endpoint=server,dir=/home/berrange/qemutls \
      -chardev socket,id=s0,host=10.0.0.1,port=9000,tls-creds=tls0,server \
      -device isa-serial,chardev=s0
      ...other QEMU options...

It is possible test connectivity to this TLS server using the gnutls-cli tool

$ gnutls-cli --priority=NORMAL -p 9000 \
--x509cafile=/home/berrange/security/qemutls/ca-cert.pem \
127.0.0.1

In the above example, QEMU was running as a TCP server, and acting as the TLS server endpoint, but this matching is not required. It is valid to configure it to run as a TLS client if desired, though this would be somewhat uncommon.

Of course you can connect 2 QEMU VMs together, both using TLS. Assuming the above QEMU is still running, we can launch a second QEMU connecting to it with

$ qemu-system-x86_64 \
      -object tls-creds-x509,id=tls0,endpoint=client,dir=/home/berrange/qemutls \
      -chardev socket,id=s0,host=10.0.0.1,port=9000,tls-creds=tls0 \
      -device isa-serial,chardev=s0
      ...other QEMU options...

Notice, we’ve changed the “endpoint” and removed the “server” option, so this second QEMU runs as a TCP client and acts as the TLS client endpoint.

This feature is available since the QEMU 2.6.0 release a few months ago.

In this blog series:

Improving QEMU security part 5: TLS support for NBD server & client

Posted: April 5th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Coding Tips, Fedora, libvirt, OpenStack, Security, Virt Tools | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

This blog is part 5 of a series I am writing about work I’ve completed over the past few releases to improve QEMU security related features.

For many years now QEMU has had code to support the NBD protocol, either as a client or as a server. The qemu-nbd command line tool can be used to export a disk image over NBD to a remote machine, or connect it directly to the local kernel’s NBD block device driver. The QEMU system emulators also have a block driver that acts as an NBD client, allowing VMs to be run from NBD volumes. More recently the QEMU system emulators gained the ability to export the disks from a running VM as named NBD volumes. The latter is particularly interesting because it is the foundation of live migration with block device replication, allowing VMs to be migrated even if you don’t have shared storage between the two hosts. In common with most network block device protocols, NBD has never offered any kind of data security capability. Administrators are recommended to run NBD over a private LAN/vLAN, use network layer security like IPSec, or tunnel it over some other kind of secure channel. While all these options are capable of working, none are very convenient to use because they require extra setup steps outside of the basic operation of the NBD server/clients. Libvirt has long had the ability to tunnel the QEMU migration channel over its own secure connection to the target host, but this has not been extended to cover the NBD channel(s) opened when doing block migration. While it could theoretically be extended to cover NBD, it would not be ideal from a performance POV because the libvirtd architecture means that the TLS encryption/decryption for multiple separate network connections would be handled by a single thread. For fast networks (10-GigE), libvirt will quickly become the bottleneck on performance even if the CPU has native support for AES.

Thus it was decided that the QEMU NBD client & server would need to be extended to support TLS encryption of the data channel natively. Initially the thought was to just add a flag to the client/server code to indicate that TLS was desired and run the TLS handshake before even starting the NBD protocol. After some discussion with the NBD maintainers though, it was decided to explicitly define a way to support TLS in the NBD protocol negotiation phase. The primary benefit of doing this is to allow clearer error reporting to the user if the client connects to a server requiring use of TLS and the client itself does not support TLS, or vica-verca – ie instead of just seeing what appears to be a mangled NBD handshake and not knowing what it means, the client can clearly report “This NBD server requires use of TLS encryption”.

The extension to the NBD protocol was fairly straightforward. After the initial NBD greeting (where the client & server agree the NBD protocol variant to be used) the client is able to request a number of protocol options. A new option was defined to allow the client to request TLS support. If the server agrees to use TLS, then they perform a standard TLS handshake and the rest of the NBD protocol carries on as normal. To prevent downgrade attacks, if the NBD server requires TLS and the client does not request the TLS option, then it will respond with an error and drop the client. In addition if the server requires TLS, then TLS must be the first option that the client requests – other options are only permitted once the TLS session is active & the server will again drop the client if it tries to request non-TLS options first.

The QEMU NBD implementation was originally using plain POSIX sockets APIs for all its I/O. So the first step in enabling TLS was to update the NBD code so that it used the new general purpose QEMU I/O channel  APIs instead. With that done it was simply a matter of instantiating a new QIOChannelTLS object at the correct part of the protocol handshake and adding various command line options to the QEMU system emulator and qemu-nbd program to allow the user to turn on TLS and configure x509 certificates.

Running a NBD server using TLS can be done as follows:

$ qemu-nbd --object tls-creds-x509,id=tls0,endpoint=server,dir=/home/berrange/qemutls \
           --tls-creds tls0 /path/to/disk/image.qcow2

On the client host, a QEMU guest can then be launched, connecting to this NBD server:

$ qemu-system-x86_64 -object tls-creds-x509,id=tls0,endpoint=client,dir=/home/berrange/qemutls \
                     -drive driver=nbd,host=theotherhost,port=10809,tls-creds=tls0 \
                     ...other QEMU options...

Finally to enable support for live migration with block device replication, the QEMU system monitor APIs gained support for a new parameter when starting the internal NBD server. All of this code was merged in time for the forthcoming QEMU 2.6 release. Work has not yet started to enable TLS with NBD in libvirt, as there is little point securing the NBD protocol streams, until the primary live migration stream is using TLS. More on live migration in a future blog post, as that’s going to be QEMU 2.7 material now.

In this blog series: