volumes

Abstract

A proposal for sharing volumes between containers in a pod using a special supplemental group.

Motivation

Kubernetes volumes should be usable regardless of the UID a container runs as. This concern cuts across all volume types, so the system should be able to handle them in a generalized way to provide uniform functionality across all volume types and lower the barrier to new plugins.

Goals of this design:

  1. Enumerate the different use-cases for volume usage in pods
  2. Define the desired goal state for ownership and permission management in Kubernetes
  3. Describe the changes necessary to achieve desired state

Constraints and Assumptions

  1. When writing permissions in this proposal, D represents a don’t-care value; example: 07D0 represents permissions where the owner has 7 permissions, all has 0 permissions, and group has a don’t-care value
  2. Read-write usability of a volume from a container is defined as one of:
    1. The volume is owned by the container’s effective UID and has permissions 07D0
    2. The volume is owned by the container’s effective GID or one of its supplemental groups and has permissions 0D70
  3. Volume plugins should not have to handle setting permissions on volumes
  4. Preventing two containers within a pod from reading and writing to the same volume (by choosing different container UIDs) is not something we intend to support today
  5. We will not design to support multiple processes running in a single container as different UIDs; use cases that require work by different UIDs should be divided into different pods for each UID

Current State Overview

Kubernetes

Kubernetes volumes can be divided into two broad categories:

  1. Unshared storage:
    1. Volumes created by the kubelet on the host directory: empty directory, git repo, secret, downward api. All volumes in this category delegate to EmptyDir for their underlying storage. These volumes are created with ownership root:root.
    2. Volumes based on network block devices: AWS EBS, iSCSI, RBD, etc, when used exclusively by a single pod.
  2. Shared storage:
    1. hostPath is shared storage because it is necessarily used by a container and the host
    2. Network file systems such as NFS, Glusterfs, Cephfs, etc. For these volumes, the ownership is determined by the configuration of the shared storage system.
    3. Block device based volumes in ReadOnlyMany or ReadWriteMany modes are shared because they may be used simultaneously by multiple pods.

The EmptyDir volume was recently modified to create the volume directory with 0777 permissions from 0750 to support basic usability of that volume as a non-root UID.

Docker

Docker recently added supplemental group support. This adds the ability to specify additional groups that a container should be part of, and will be released with Docker 1.8.

There is a proposal to add a bind-mount flag to tell Docker to change the ownership of a volume to the effective UID and GID of a container, but this has not yet been accepted.

rkt

rkt image manifests can specify users and groups, similarly to how a Docker image can. A rkt pod manifest can also override the default user and group specified by the image manifest.

rkt does not currently support supplemental groups or changing the owning UID or group of a volume, but it has been requested.

Use Cases

  1. As a user, I want the system to set ownership and permissions on volumes correctly to enable reads and writes with the following scenarios:
    1. All containers running as root
    2. All containers running as the same non-root user
    3. Multiple containers running as a mix of root and non-root users

All containers running as root

For volumes that only need to be used by root, no action needs to be taken to change ownership or permissions, but setting the ownership based on the supplemental group shared by all containers in a pod will also work. For situations where read-only access to a shared volume is required from one or more containers, the VolumeMounts in those containers should have the readOnly field set.

All containers running as a single non-root user

In use cases whether a volume is used by a single non-root UID the volume ownership and permissions should be set to enable read/write access.

Currently, a non-root UID will not have permissions to write to any but an EmptyDir volume. Today, users that need this case to work can:

  1. Grant the container the necessary capabilities to chown and chmod the volume:
    • CAP_FOWNER
    • CAP_CHOWN
    • CAP_DAC_OVERRIDE
  2. Run a wrapper script that runs chown and chmod commands to set the desired ownership and permissions on the volume before starting their main process

This workaround has significant drawbacks:

  1. It grants powerful kernel capabilities to the code in the image and thus is not securing, defeating the reason containers are run as non-root users
  2. The user experience is poor; it requires changing Dockerfile, adding a layer, or modifying the container’s command

Some cluster operators manage the ownership of shared storage volumes on the server side. In this scenario, the UID of the container using the volume is known in advance. The ownership of the volume is set to match the container’s UID on the server side.

Containers running as a mix of root and non-root users

If the list of UIDs that need to use a volume includes both root and non-root users, supplemental groups can be applied to enable sharing volumes between containers. The ownership and permissions root:<supplemental group> 2770 will make a volume usable from both containers running as root and running as a non-root UID and the supplemental group. The setgid bit is used to ensure that files created in the volume will inherit the owning GID of the volume.

Community Design Discussion

Analysis

The system needs to be able to:

  1. Model correctly which volumes require ownership management
  2. Determine the correct ownership of each volume in a pod if required
  3. Set the ownership and permissions on volumes when required

Modeling whether a volume requires ownership management

Unshared storage: volumes derived from EmptyDir

Since Kubernetes creates EmptyDir volumes, it should ensure the ownership is set to enable the volumes to be usable for all of the above scenarios.

Unshared storage: network block devices

Volume plugins based on network block devices such as AWS EBS and RBS can be treated the same way as local volumes. Since inodes are written to these block devices in the same way as EmptyDir volumes, permissions and ownership can be managed on the client side by the Kubelet when used exclusively by one pod. When the volumes are used outside of a persistent volume, or with the ReadWriteOnce mode, they are effectively unshared storage.

When used by multiple pods, there are many additional use-cases to analyze before we can be confident that we can support ownership management robustly with these file systems. The right design is one that makes it easy to experiment and develop support for ownership management with volume plugins to enable developers and cluster operators to continue exploring these issues.

Shared storage: hostPath

The hostPath volume should only be used by effective-root users, and the permissions of paths exposed into containers via hostPath volumes should always be managed by the cluster operator. If the Kubelet managed the ownership for hostPath volumes, a user who could create a hostPath volume could affect changes in the state of arbitrary paths within the host’s filesystem. This would be a severe security risk, so we will consider hostPath a corner case that the kubelet should never perform ownership management for.

Shared storage

Ownership management of shared storage is a complex topic. Ownership for existing shared storage will be managed externally from Kubernetes. For this case, our API should make it simple to express whether a particular volume should have these concerns managed by Kubernetes.

We will not attempt to address the ownership and permissions concerns of new shared storage in this proposal.

When a network block device is used as a persistent volume in ReadWriteMany or ReadOnlyMany modes, it is shared storage, and thus outside the scope of this proposal.

Plugin API requirements

From the above, we know that some volume plugins will ‘want’ ownership management from the Kubelet and others will not. Plugins should be able to opt in to ownership management from the Kubelet. To facilitate this, there should be a method added to the volume.Plugin interface that the Kubelet uses to determine whether to perform ownership management for a volume.

Determining correct ownership of a volume

Using the approach of a pod-level supplemental group to own volumes solves the problem in any of the cases of UID/GID combinations within a pod. Since this is the simplest approach that handles all use-cases, our solution will be made in terms of it.

Eventually, Kubernetes should allocate a unique group for each pod so that a pod’s volumes are usable by that pod’s containers, but not by containers of another pod. The supplemental group used to share volumes must be unique in a multitenant cluster. If uniqueness is enforced at the host level, pods from one host may be able to use shared filesystems meant for pods on another host.

Eventually, Kubernetes should integrate with external identity management systems to populate pod specs with the right supplemental groups necessary to use shared volumes. In the interim until the identity management story is far enough along to implement this type of integration, we will rely on being able to set arbitrary groups. (Note: as of this writing, a PR is being prepared for setting arbitrary supplemental groups).

An admission controller could handle allocating groups for each pod and setting the group in the pod’s security context.

A note on the root group

Today, by default, all docker containers are run in the root group (GID 0). This is relied on by image authors that make images to run with a range of UIDs: they set the group ownership for important paths to be the root group, so that containers running as GID 0 and an arbitrary UID can read and write to those paths normally.

It is important to note that the changes proposed here will not affect the primary GID of containers in pods. Setting the pod.Spec.SecurityContext.FSGroup field will not override the primary GID and should be safe to use in images that expect GID 0.

Setting ownership and permissions on volumes

For EmptyDir-based volumes and unshared storage, chown and chmod on the node are sufficient to set ownership and permissions. Shared storage is different because:

  1. Shared storage may not live on the node a pod that uses it runs on
  2. Shared storage may be externally managed

Proposed design:

Our design should minimize code for handling ownership required in the Kubelet and volume plugins.

API changes

We should not interfere with images that need to run as a particular UID or primary GID. A pod level supplemental group allows us to express a group that all containers in a pod run as in a way that is orthogonal to the primary UID and GID of each container process.

package api

type PodSecurityContext struct {
    // FSGroup is a supplemental group that all containers in a pod run under.  This group will own
    // volumes that the Kubelet manages ownership for.  If this is not specified, the Kubelet will
    // not set the group ownership of any volumes.
    FSGroup *int64 `json:"fsGroup,omitempty"`
}

The V1 API will be extended with the same field:

package v1

type PodSecurityContext struct {
    // FSGroup is a supplemental group that all containers in a pod run under.  This group will own
    // volumes that the Kubelet manages ownership for.  If this is not specified, the Kubelet will
    // not set the group ownership of any volumes.
    FSGroup *int64 `json:"fsGroup,omitempty"`
}

The values that can be specified for the pod.Spec.SecurityContext.FSGroup field are governed by pod security policy.

API backward compatibility

Pods created by old clients will have the pod.Spec.SecurityContext.FSGroup field unset; these pods will not have their volumes managed by the Kubelet. Old clients will not be able to set or read the pod.Spec.SecurityContext.FSGroup field.

Volume changes

The volume.Mounter interface should have a new method added that indicates whether the plugin supports ownership management:

package volume

type Mounter interface {
    // other methods omitted

    // SupportsOwnershipManagement indicates that this volume supports having ownership
    // and permissions managed by the Kubelet; if true, the caller may manipulate UID
    // or GID of this volume.
    SupportsOwnershipManagement() bool
}

In the first round of work, only hostPath and emptyDir and its derivations will be tested with ownership management support:

Plugin Name SupportsOwnershipManagement
hostPath false
emptyDir true
gitRepo true
secret true
downwardAPI true
gcePersistentDisk false
awsElasticBlockStore false
nfs false
iscsi false
glusterfs false
persistentVolumeClaim depends on underlying volume and PV mode
rbd false
cinder false
cephfs false

Ultimately, the matrix will theoretically look like:

Plugin Name SupportsOwnershipManagement
hostPath false
emptyDir true
gitRepo true
secret true
downwardAPI true
gcePersistentDisk true
awsElasticBlockStore true
nfs false
iscsi true
glusterfs false
persistentVolumeClaim depends on underlying volume and PV mode
rbd true
cinder false
cephfs false

Kubelet changes

The Kubelet should be modified to perform ownership and label management when required for a volume.

For ownership management the criteria are:

  1. The pod.Spec.SecurityContext.FSGroup field is populated
  2. The volume builder returns true from SupportsOwnershipManagement

Logic should be added to the mountExternalVolumes method that runs a local chgrp and chmod if the pod-level supplemental group is set and the volume supports ownership management:

package kubelet

type ChgrpRunner interface {
    Chgrp(path string, gid int) error
}

type ChmodRunner interface {
    Chmod(path string, mode os.FileMode) error
}

type Kubelet struct {
    chgrpRunner ChgrpRunner
    chmodRunner ChmodRunner
}

func (kl *Kubelet) mountExternalVolumes(pod *api.Pod) (kubecontainer.VolumeMap, error) {
    podFSGroup = pod.Spec.PodSecurityContext.FSGroup
    podFSGroupSet := false
    if podFSGroup != 0 {
        podFSGroupSet = true
    }

    podVolumes := make(kubecontainer.VolumeMap)

    for i := range pod.Spec.Volumes {
        volSpec := &pod.Spec.Volumes[i]

        rootContext, err := kl.getRootDirContext()
        if err != nil {
            return nil, err
        }

        // Try to use a plugin for this volume.
        internal := volume.NewSpecFromVolume(volSpec)
        builder, err := kl.newVolumeMounterFromPlugins(internal, pod, volume.VolumeOptions{RootContext: rootContext}, kl.mounter)
        if err != nil {
            glog.Errorf("Could not create volume builder for pod %s: %v", pod.UID, err)
            return nil, err
        }
        if builder == nil {
            return nil, errUnsupportedVolumeType
        }
        err = builder.SetUp()
        if err != nil {
            return nil, err
        }

        if builder.SupportsOwnershipManagement() &&
           podFSGroupSet {
            err = kl.chgrpRunner.Chgrp(builder.GetPath(), podFSGroup)
            if err != nil {
                return nil, err
            }

            err = kl.chmodRunner.Chmod(builder.GetPath(), os.FileMode(1770))
            if err != nil {
                return nil, err
            }
        }

        podVolumes[volSpec.Name] = builder
    }

    return podVolumes, nil
}

This allows the volume plugins to determine when they do and don’t want this type of support from the Kubelet, and allows the criteria each plugin uses to evolve without changing the Kubelet.

The docker runtime will be modified to set the supplemental group of each container based on the pod.Spec.SecurityContext.FSGroup field. Theoretically, the rkt runtime could support this feature in a similar way.

Examples

EmptyDir

For a pod that has two containers sharing an EmptyDir volume:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: test-pod
spec:
  securityContext:
    fsGroup: 1001
  containers:
  - name: a
    securityContext:
      runAsUser: 1009
    volumeMounts:
      - mountPath: "/example/hostpath/a"
        name: empty-vol
  - name: b
    securityContext:
      runAsUser: 1010
    volumeMounts:
      - mountPath: "/example/hostpath/b"
        name: empty-vol
  volumes:
    - name: empty-vol

When the Kubelet runs this pod, the empty-vol volume will have ownership root:1001 and permissions 0770. It will be usable from both containers a and b.

HostPath

For a volume that uses a hostPath volume with containers running as different UIDs:

apiVersion: v1
kind: Pod
metadata:
  name: test-pod
spec:
  securityContext:
    fsGroup: 1001
  containers:
  - name: a
    securityContext:
      runAsUser: 1009
    volumeMounts:
      - mountPath: "/example/hostpath/a"
        name: host-vol
  - name: b
    securityContext:
      runAsUser: 1010
    volumeMounts:
      - mountPath: "/example/hostpath/b"
        name: host-vol
  volumes:
    - name: host-vol
      hostPath:
        path: "/tmp/example-pod"

The cluster operator would need to manually chgrp and chmod the /tmp/example-pod on the host in order for the volume to be usable from the pod.