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LX Branded Zones


Bryan's talk (both entertaining and informative) (slides)

Getting Started

  1. this worked on 2017-10-30
  2. log into the SmartOS machine as user root
  3. imgadm avail | egrep lx; (I chose e74a9cd0-f2d0-11e6-8b69-b3acf2ef87f7 from
  4. imgadm import e74a9cd0-f2d0-11e6-8b69-b3acf2ef87f7 to download the snapshot and install in zones pool
  5. imgadm show e74a9cd0-f2d0-11e6-8b69-b3acf2ef87f7 to figure out the kernel version
  6. this command will create a running virtual machine, complete with disc/memory/network/cpu:

    vmadm create <<EOL
         "brand": "lx",
         "kernel_version": "3.16.0",
         "image_uuid": "e74a9cd0-f2d0-11e6-8b69-b3acf2ef87f7",
         "alias": "pg",
         "hostname": "pg",
         "max_physical_memory": 8192,
         "quota": 3000,
         "resolvers": ["", ""],
         "nics": [
            "nic_tag": "v",
            "ip": "",
            "netmask": "",
            "gateway": "",
            "vlan_id": 180
  7. vmadm list gave me the ID for my running instance:

    UUID                                  TYPE  RAM      STATE   ALIAS
    9f7dfe6d-d6ec-e108-d3be-ce1638b5a7c2  LX    8192     running pg
  8. I had difficulty logging into that machine (zlogin 9f7dfe6d-d6ec-e108-d3be-ce1638b5a7c2 should have worked, too), this is why I created this writeup in the first place.  This is how you can get yourself into the newly created machine

    cd /zones/9f7*/root/root/.ssh && cp ~/.ssh/id_pub.rsa authorized_keys
  9. Log in

    ssh root@
  10. final note: my SmartOS machine was on vlan 180, if you don't do vlans, leave out the vlan_id line and preceding comma, probably your interface is called admin; change paramaters as desired

Platform Version

For best results, run the latest SmartOS release available.

Import images

The lx zone images are on so make sure that's one of your image sources. Then you can import images:

imgadm sources -a
imgadm avail | grep lx-dataset   # See available images
imgadm import 05140a7e-279f-11e6-aedf-47d4f69d2887    # ubuntu-16.04 20160601

Create A Zone

Create a zone (replace the nic values with ones appropriate for your network)

If you're not sure what these values mean or what units they are in, check out the vmadm man page

  "alias": "lxtest",
  "brand": "lx",
  "kernel_version": "4.3.0",
  "max_physical_memory": 2048,
  "quota": 10,
  "image_uuid": "05140a7e-279f-11e6-aedf-47d4f69d2887",
  "resolvers": ["",""],
  "nics": [
      "nic_tag": "external",
      "ips": ["dhcp"],
      "primary": true

Cool Tech Demos

A selection of impressive demonstrations of the LX brand's capabilities. Please add your favorites here.

Show your friends


AF_INET and AF_INET6 mostly working (2014-12-19). Still have some sockopts missing.

ipadm is not working inside the lx brand, /native/sbin/ifconfig is usable.

Enabling IPv6 SLAAC auto configuration

Add addrconf to the ips array for the NIC to perform SLAAC and/or DHCPv6 as appropriate.

X11 forwarding

This is working fine on both 32-bit and 64-bit. After pmooney's AF_INET6 commit this is working fine out of the box!


If debugging LX branded zones, first watch this video: Debugging LX branded zones on SmartOS


Enabling lx_debug probes

As the video above mentioned, probes associated with lx_debug (that is, output associated with the LX_DEBUG environment variable) are turned on it LX_DTRACE is set to a non-zero value in the environment. However, this is not helpful if in a context that is hard to set environment variable (e.g., early in boot). The video above neglected to mention how to enable DTrace probes in this case. To do this, you must first change the disposition of the brand to enable these by default by modifying the binary. From the global zone, do the following:

cp /usr/lib/amd64/ /var/tmp
cp /usr/lib/amd64/ /var/tmp/$$
echo "lx_dtrace_lazyload?W 0" | mdb -w /var/tmp/$$
mount -O -F lofs /var/tmp/$$ /usr/lib/amd64/

(If debugging 32-bit, the that should be copied and mounted over should be /usr/lib/ not /usr/lib/amd64/

At that point, lx``pid``:::debug probes should show up as processes start, which will allow you to see where things are failing:

dtrace -Zqn lx*:::debug'{printf("%s", copyinstr(arg0))}'

(String size and switch rate should be adjusted up if truncated strings or drops are seen.)

When debugging a new distro or otherwise debugging the death of processes before you can login, you can

hunting for unsupported syscalls

With a dtrace script, lxunsup.d

#!/usr/sbin/dtrace -s

#pragma D option quiet

    printf("%6s %20s %s\n", "PID", "NAME", "CALL")

    printf("%6d %20s %S\n", pid, execname, stringof(arg0));

And some 1-liners.

dtrace -n 'sdt:lx_brand::brand-lx-unsupported {@num[execname,stringof(arg0)] = count()}'
dtrace -n 'lx-syscall::setsockopt:entry /arg1 == 0 && arg2 == 35/ { trace(arg4) }'

Harmless unsupported syscalls

  • prctl(PR_SET_DUMPABLE)
  • allow process to enable coredumps, should have no functional impact
  • prctl option 4
  • same as PR_SET_DUMPABLE
  • set_robust_list / get_robust_list
  • part of libc initialization, but if the feature is never used, then it doesn't really end up mattering.
  • futex 0x9
  • usespace mutex call, mostly harmless
  • socket flag MSG_CMSG_CLOEXEC
  • auto close fd's... dbus spamsthese a lot. Looks like they get closed anyway.
  • ioctl 0xc020660b (fiemap)
  • used to find holes in files by querying the inode extend info, apt tries to use this. have not noticed any impact.

Probing socket options

This is handy for figuring out why a networking app is not behaving properly.

D script lxsockopt.d

#!/usr/sbin/dtrace -s

#pragma D option quiet

 * PROTO values can be found here:
 * SOCKOPT values can be found here:
    printf("%6s %20s %5s %s\n", "PID", "NAME", "PROTO", "SOCKOPT");

    printf("%6d %20s %5d %d\n", pid, execname, arg1, arg2);

Or, a 1-liner

dtrace -n 'lx-syscall::setsockopt:entry { @num[execname,arg2] = count()}'


Bryan's talk and demo of sdc-docker


Initial support for lx brand is complete:

Random Notes

Using /native binaries to work

SmartOS (in fact, the entire SmartOS userland) binaries are mounted in /native in all LX zones. They mostly work, but some native binaries execute other native binaries. (For example, arp calls netstat.) For programs written in C, this can be fixed, so please file a ticket if it doesn't work in a recent release.

Creating your own zone dataset

Joyent CI builds

If you run into a new bug, someone might ask you to try the latest CI build after it's been fixed. This is how.

The Joyent CI system constantly rebuilds the platform tarball when there are new commits. You can extract that image and put into place on e.g. an existing SmartOS USB stick to obtain the latest and greatest code from Joyent.

You can download that platform tarball like so:

LATEST=$(curl ${MANTA_URL}/Joyent_Dev/public/builds/platform/master-latest)
curl -O ${MANTA_URL}${LATEST}/platform/platform-master-${LATEST##*-}.tgz

To update an existing SmartOS USB stick:

  1. Extract that tarball onto your USB stick (you'll get a directory named "platform-<datestamp>")
  2. Move aside the directory named "platform" to e.g. "platform-orig"
  3. Rename "platform-<datestamp>" to "platform"
  4. Boot from your USB stic