ZONES(5) Standards, Environments, and Macros ZONES(5)


zones - Solaris application containers


The zones facility in Solaris provides an isolated environment for
running applications. Processes running in a zone are prevented from
monitoring or interfering with other activity in the system. Access to
other processes, network interfaces, file systems, devices, and inter-
process communication facilities are restricted to prevent interaction
between processes in different zones.

The privileges available within a zone are restricted to prevent
operations with system-wide impact. See privileges(5).

You can configure and administer zones with the zoneadm(1M) and
zonecfg(1M) utilities. You can specify the configuration details a zone,
install file system contents including software packages into the zone,
and manage the runtime state of the zone. You can use the zlogin(1) to
run commands within an active zone. You can do this without logging in
through a network-based login server such as in.rlogind(1M) or sshd(1M).

The autobooting of zones is enabled and disabled by the zones service,
identified by the FMRI:


See zoneadm(1M). Note that a zone has an autoboot property, which can be
set to true (always autoboot). However, if the zones service is disabled,
autoboot will not occur, regardless of the setting of the autoboot
property for a given zone. See zonecfg(1M).

An alphanumeric name and numeric ID identify each active zone.
Alphanumeric names are configured using the zonecfg(1M) utility. Numeric
IDs are automatically assigned when the zone is booted. The zonename(1)
utility reports the current zone name, and the zoneadm(1M) utility can be
used to report the names and IDs of configured zones.

A zone can be in one of several states:

Indicates that the configuration for the zone has been
completely specified and committed to stable storage.

Indicates that the zone is in the midst of being
installed or uninstalled, or was interrupted in the
midst of such a transition.

Indicates that the zone's configuration has been
instantiated on the system: packages have been installed
under the zone's root path.

Indicates that the "virtual platform" for the zone has
been established. For instance, file systems have been
mounted, devices have been configured, but no processes
associated with the zone have been started.

Indicates that user processes associated with the zone
application environment are running.

Indicates that the zone is being halted. The zone can
become stuck in one of these states if it is unable to
tear down the application environment state (such as
mounted file systems) or if some portion of the virtual
platform cannot be destroyed. Such cases require
operator intervention.

Process Access Restrictions

Processes running inside a zone (aside from the global zone) have
restricted access to other processes. Only processes in the same zone are
visible through /proc (see proc(4) or through system call interfaces that
take process IDs such as kill(2) and priocntl(2). Attempts to access
processes that exist in other zones (including the global zone) fail with
the same error code that would be issued if the specified process did not

Privilege Restrictions

Processes running within a non-global zone are restricted to a subset of
privileges, in order to prevent one zone from being able to perform
operations that might affect other zones. The set of privileges limits
the capabilities of privileged users (such as the super-user or root
user) within the zone. The list of privileges available within a zone can
be displayed using the ppriv(1) utility. For more information about
privileges, see privileges(5).

Device Restrictions

The set of devices available within a zone is restricted, to prevent a
process in one zone from interfering with processes in other zones. For
example, a process in a zone should not be able to modify kernel memory
using /dev/kmem, or modify the contents of the root disk. Thus, by
default, only a few pseudo devices considered safe for use within a zone
are available. Additional devices can be made available within specific
zones using the zonecfg(1M) utility.

The device and privilege restrictions have a number of effects on the
utilities that can run in a non-global zone. For example, the eeprom(1M),
prtdiag(1M), and prtconf(1M) utilities do not work in a zone since they
rely on devices that are not normally available.


A zone may be assigned a brand when it is initially created. A branded
zone is one whose software does not match that software found in the
global zone. The software may include Solaris software configured or laid
out differently, or it may include non-Solaris software. The particular
collection of software is called a "brand" (see brands(5)). Once
installed, a zone's brand may not be changed unless the zone is first

File Systems

Each zone has its own section of the file system hierarchy, rooted at a
directory known as the zone root. Processes inside the zone can access
only files within that part of the hierarchy, that is, files that are
located beneath the zone root. This prevents processes in one zone from
corrupting or examining file system data associated with another zone.
The chroot(1M) utility can be used within a zone, but can only restrict
the process to a root path accessible within the zone.

In order to preserve file system space, sections of the file system can
be mounted into one or more zones using the read-only option of the
lofs(7FS) file system. This allows the same file system data to be shared
in multiple zones, while preserving the security guarantees supplied by

NFS and autofs mounts established within a zone are local to that zone;
they cannot be accessed from other zones, including the global zone. The
mounts are removed when the zone is halted or rebooted.


A zone has its own port number space for TCP, UDP, and SCTP applications
and typically one or more separate IP addresses (but some configurations
of Trusted Extensions share IP address(es) between zones).

For the IP layer (IP routing, ARP, IPsec, IP Filter, and so on) a zone
can either share the configuration and state with the global zone (a
shared-IP zone), or have its distinct IP layer configuration and state
(an exclusive-IP zone).

If a zone is to be connected to the same datalink, that is, be on the
same IP subnet or subnets as the global zone, then it is appropriate for
the zone to use the shared IP instance.

If a zone needs to be isolated at the IP layer on the network, for
instance being connected to different VLANs or different LANs than the
global zone and other non-global zones, then for isolation reasons the
zone should have its exclusive IP.

A shared-IP zone is prevented from doing certain things towards the
network (such as changing its IP address or sending spoofed IP or
Ethernet packets), but an exclusive-IP zone has more or less the same
capabilities towards the network as a separate host that is connected to
the same network interface. In particular, the superuser in such a zone
can change its IP address and spoof ARP packets.

The shared-IP zones are assigned one or more network interface names and
IP addresses in zonecfg(1M). The network interface name(s) must also be
configured in the global zone.

The exclusive-IP zones are assigned one or more network interface names
in zonecfg(1M). The network interface names must be exclusively assigned
to that zone, that is, it (or they) can not be assigned to some other
running zone, nor can they be used by the global zone.

The full IP-level functionality in the form of DHCP client, IPsec and IP
Filter, is available in exclusive-IP zones and not in shared-IP zones.

Host Identifiers

A zone is capable of emulating a 32-bit host identifier, which can be
configured via zonecfg(1M), for the purpose of system consolidation. If a
zone emulates a host identifier, then commands such as hostid(1) and
sysdef(1M) as well as C interfaces such as sysinfo(2) and gethostid(3C)
that are executed within the context of the zone will display or return
the zone's emulated host identifier rather than the host machine's


hostid(1), zlogin(1), zonename(1), in.rlogind(1M), sshd(1M), sysdef(1M),
zoneadm(1M), zonecfg(1M), kill(2), priocntl(2), sysinfo(2),
gethostid(3C), getzoneid(3C), ucred_get(3C), proc(4), attributes(5),
brands(5), privileges(5), crgetzoneid(9F)

January 29, 2009 ZONES(5)