Time Namespace

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Basic Information

The time namespace in Linux allows for per-namespace offsets to the system monotonic and boot-time clocks. It is commonly used in Linux containers to change the date/time within a container and adjust clocks after restoring from a checkpoint or snapshot.


Create different Namespaces


sudo unshare -T [--mount-proc] /bin/bash

By mounting a new instance of the /proc filesystem if you use the param --mount-proc, you ensure that the new mount namespace has an accurate and isolated view of the process information specific to that namespace.

Error: bash: fork: Cannot allocate memory

When unshare is executed without the -f option, an error is encountered due to the way Linux handles new PID (Process ID) namespaces. The key details and the solution are outlined below:

  1. Problem Explanation:

    • The Linux kernel allows a process to create new namespaces using the unshare system call. However, the process that initiates the creation of a new PID namespace (referred to as the "unshare" process) does not enter the new namespace; only its child processes do.

    • Running %unshare -p /bin/bash% starts /bin/bash in the same process as unshare. Consequently, /bin/bash and its child processes are in the original PID namespace.

    • The first child process of /bin/bash in the new namespace becomes PID 1. When this process exits, it triggers the cleanup of the namespace if there are no other processes, as PID 1 has the special role of adopting orphan processes. The Linux kernel will then disable PID allocation in that namespace.

  2. Consequence:

    • The exit of PID 1 in a new namespace leads to the cleaning of the PIDNS_HASH_ADDING flag. This results in the alloc_pid function failing to allocate a new PID when creating a new process, producing the "Cannot allocate memory" error.

  3. Solution:

    • The issue can be resolved by using the -f option with unshare. This option makes unshare fork a new process after creating the new PID namespace.

    • Executing %unshare -fp /bin/bash% ensures that the unshare command itself becomes PID 1 in the new namespace. /bin/bash and its child processes are then safely contained within this new namespace, preventing the premature exit of PID 1 and allowing normal PID allocation.

By ensuring that unshare runs with the -f flag, the new PID namespace is correctly maintained, allowing /bin/bash and its sub-processes to operate without encountering the memory allocation error.


docker run -ti --name ubuntu1 -v /usr:/ubuntu1 ubuntu bash

Check which namespace is your process in

ls -l /proc/self/ns/time
lrwxrwxrwx 1 root root 0 Apr  4 21:16 /proc/self/ns/time -> 'time:[4026531834]'

Find all Time namespaces

sudo find /proc -maxdepth 3 -type l -name time -exec readlink {} \; 2>/dev/null | sort -u
# Find the processes with an specific namespace
sudo find /proc -maxdepth 3 -type l -name time -exec ls -l  {} \; 2>/dev/null | grep <ns-number>

Enter inside a Time namespace

nsenter -T TARGET_PID --pid /bin/bash

Also, you can only enter in another process namespace if you are root. And you cannot enter in other namespace without a descriptor pointing to it (like /proc/self/ns/net).


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