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From: sbaugh
Subject: Using CHILD_SUBREAPER in GNU Shepherd
Date: Sat, 03 Jun 2017 16:29:40 -0400
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.1 (gnu/linux)


There is a feature present in Linux: CHILD_SUBREAPER.

It changes the logic for reparenting orphaned processes. Instead of an
orphaned process being reparented to pid1, an orphaned process is
reparented to the nearest parent that is marked as a CHILD_SUBREAPER.
A process can mark itself as a CHILD_SUBREAPER without privileges.

See PR_SET_CHILD_SUBREAPER in prctl(2) for maybe more precise

What this boils down to is allowing process supervisors to be much more
reliable, even when not running as init, because they can track not just
their children, but their children's children, and in general all
transitive children. I'd like to add it to GNU Shepherd.

It may require some re-architecting to take full advantage of it. I'm
not sure yet.  I wrote a small tool using CHILD_SUBREAPER to provide
some useful process supervision features:

The relevant features are:
- Guaranteed cleanup of all started processes
- Usable in nested situations
I'd like to get such features into GNU Shepherd. (maybe the latter is
already possible, but explicit support can't hurt)

Does this sound like a good idea?

There aren't many process supervisors out there which actually use
CHILD_SUBREAPER, which I find rather disappointing, because it allows
container-like cleanup without actually having root privileges.

In the longer term, if we had this feature in the shepherd, we could
make some container-like guarantees about starting up daemons and
applications out of Guix on foreign distros: Not only will the
dependencies be pulled from the store, but also absolutely no processes
can be remaining on the system after the daemon is terminated, if it is
started with the shepherd. That would a really unique guarantee!

It could also help with store garbage collection, perhaps?

Thanks for Guix!

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