Process NameSpaces

The process namespace allows a translation between a two versions of a process id which is ideal for containers allowing a process two have an id that is used inside the container and another one outside it.

Validating Name Spaces translation

In the following set of experiments we are going to show how it’s done.

Step 1: Create A normal contianer Create an Ubuntu container in an interactive mode

# docker run –it ubuntu /bin/bash


Step 2: Find about the current containers

# docker ps

CONTAINER ID        IMAGE               COMMAND             CREATED              STATUS              PORTS               NAMES
1b51c60ecc24        ubuntu              "/bin/bash"         About a minute ago   Up About a minute                       high_carson

Step 3: Find process information about the created container

# docker inspect --format "{{ .State.Pid }}" 1b51c60ecc24


Step 4: Test this process on the host itself

# ps -fp 40085

root     40085 18860  0 14:06 pts/3    00:00:00 /bin/bash

# cat /proc/40085/environ


Step 5: A view inside the container itself root@1b51c60ecc24:/# ps -ef

root         1     0  0 12:06 ?        00:00:00 /bin/bash
root        15     1  0 12:19 ?        00:00:00 ps -e

How this works

In the Linux world, every system has just one root process with the PID 1 and PPID 0, which is the root of the complete process tree of that system. The Docker framework cleverly leverages the Linux PID namespace to spin a completely new process tree; thus, the processes running inside a container have no access to the parent process of the Docker host. However, the Docker host has a complete view of the child PID namespace spun by the Docker engine.

The PID namespace provides consistent, virtual resource names in place of host-dependent resource names. Such PIDs within a container are trivially assigned in a unique manner in the same way that traditional operating systems assign names, but such names are localized to the container. Since the namespace is private to a given container, there are no resource naming conflicts for processes in different containers.

As a result, processes are created inside of a container and spend their entire lifetimes in the context of that container; they are not allowed to leave one container and join another.

Docker uses some sort of translation hash table between the process ids in the container and how its viewed by the host.