Landlock: userland documentation

Landlock programs

eBPF programs are used to create security programs. They are contained and can call only a whitelist of dedicated functions. Moreover, they can only loop under strict conditions, which protects from denial of service. More information on BPF can be found in Documentation/networking/filter.txt.

Writing a program

To enforce a security policy, a thread first needs to create a Landlock program. The easiest way to write an eBPF program depicting a security program is to write it in the C language. As described in samples/bpf/README.rst, LLVM can compile such programs. A simple eBPF program can also be written by hand has done in tools/testing/selftests/landlock/.

Once the eBPF program is created, the next step is to create the metadata describing the Landlock program. This metadata includes an expected attach type which contains the hook type to which the program is tied.

A hook is a policy decision point which exposes the same context type for each program evaluation.

A Landlock hook describes the kind of kernel object for which a program will be triggered to allow or deny an action. For example, the hook BPF_LANDLOCK_PTRACE can be triggered every time a landlocked thread performs a set of action related to debugging (cf. ptrace(2)) or if the kernel needs to know if a process manipulation requested by something else is legitimate.

The next step is to fill a struct bpf_load_program_attr with BPF_PROG_TYPE_LANDLOCK_HOOK, the expected attach type and other BPF program metadata. This bpf_attr must then be passed to the bpf(2) syscall alongside the BPF_PROG_LOAD command. If everything is deemed correct by the kernel, the thread gets a file descriptor referring to this program.

In the following code, the insn variable is an array of BPF instructions which can be extracted from an ELF file as is done in bpf_load_file() from samples/bpf/bpf_load.c.

int prog_fd;
struct bpf_load_program_attr load_attr;

memset(&load_attr, 0, sizeof(struct bpf_load_program_attr));
load_attr.prog_type = BPF_PROG_TYPE_LANDLOCK_HOOK;
load_attr.expected_attach_type = BPF_LANDLOCK_PTRACE;
load_attr.insns = insns;
load_attr.insns_cnt = sizeof(insn) / sizeof(struct bpf_insn);
load_attr.license = "GPL";

prog_fd = bpf_load_program_xattr(&load_attr, log_buf, log_buf_sz);
if (prog_fd == -1)

Enforcing a program

Once the Landlock program has been created or received (e.g. through a UNIX socket), the thread willing to sandbox itself (and its future children) should perform the following two steps.

The thread should first request to never be allowed to get new privileges with a call to prctl(2) and the PR_SET_NO_NEW_PRIVS option. More information can be found in Documentation/prctl/no_new_privs.txt.

if (prctl(PR_SET_NO_NEW_PRIVS, 1, NULL, 0, 0))

A thread can apply a program to itself by using the seccomp(2) syscall. The operation is SECCOMP_PREPEND_LANDLOCK_PROG, the flags must be empty and the args argument must point to a valid Landlock program file descriptor.


If the syscall succeeds, the program is now enforced on the calling thread and will be enforced on all its subsequently created children of the thread as well. Once a thread is landlocked, there is no way to remove this security policy, only stacking more restrictions is allowed. The program evaluation is performed from the newest to the oldest.

When a syscall ask for an action on a kernel object, if this action is denied, then an EACCES errno code is returned through the syscall.

Inherited programs

Every new thread resulting from a clone(2) inherits Landlock program restrictions from its parent. This is similar to the seccomp inheritance as described in Documentation/prctl/seccomp_filter.txt or any other LSM dealing with task’s credentials(7).

Ptrace restrictions

A sandboxed process has less privileges than a non-sandboxed process and must then be subject to additional restrictions when manipulating another process. To be allowed to use ptrace(2) and related syscalls on a target process, a sandboxed process should have a subset of the target process programs. This security policy can easily be implemented like in tools/testing/selftests/landlock/test_ptrace.c.

Landlock structures and constants


struct landlock_context_ptrace

context accessible to BPF_LANDLOCK_PTRACE


struct landlock_context_ptrace {
  __u64 tracer;
  __u64 tracee;


pointer to the task requesting to debug tracee
pointer to the task being debugged

Return types

The return value of a landlock program is a bitmask that can allow or deny the action for which the program is run.

In the future, this could be used to trigger an audit event as well.


Additional documentation