Landlock: userland documentation

Landlock rules

eBPF programs are used to create security rules. They are contained and can call only a whitelist of dedicated functions. Moreover, they cannot loop, which protects from denial of service. More information on BPF can be found in Documentation/networking/filter.txt.

Writing a rule

To enforce a security policy, a thread first needs to create a Landlock rule. The easiest way to write an eBPF program depicting a security rule is to write it in the C language. As described in samples/bpf/README.rst, LLVM can compile such programs. Files samples/bpf/landlock1_kern.c and those in tools/testing/selftests/landlock/rules/ can be used as examples. The following example is a simple rule to forbid file creation, whatever syscall may be used (e.g. open, mkdir, link...).

static int deny_file_creation(struct landlock_context *ctx)
    if (ctx->arg2 & LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_NEW)
        return 1;
    return 0;

Once the eBPF program is created, the next step is to create the metadata describing the Landlock rule. This metadata includes a subtype which contains the version of Landlock, the event to which the rule is tied, and optional Landlock rule abilities.

static union bpf_prog_subtype subtype = {
    .landlock_rule = {
        .version = 1,

The Landlock version is important to inform the kernel which features or behavior the rule can handle. The user-space thread should set the lowest possible version to be as compatible as possible with older kernels. For the list of features provided by version, see Landlock features.

A Landlock event describes the kind of kernel object for which a rule will be triggered to allow or deny an action. For example, the event LANDLOCK_SUBTYPE_EVENT_FS is triggered every time a landlocked thread performs an action related to the filesystem (e.g. open, read, write, mount...).

The Landlock rule abilities should only be used if the rule needs a specific feature such as debugging. This should be avoided if not strictly necessary.

The next step is to fill a union bpf_attr with BPF_PROG_TYPE_LANDLOCK, the previously created subtype 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 rule.

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.

union bpf_attr attr = {
    .prog_type = BPF_PROG_TYPE_LANDLOCK,
    .insn_cnt = sizeof(insn) / sizeof(struct bpf_insn),
    .insns = (__u64) (unsigned long) insn,
    .license = (__u64) (unsigned long) "GPL",
    .prog_subtype = &subtype,
int rule = bpf(BPF_PROG_LOAD, &attr, sizeof(attr));
if (rule == -1)

Enforcing a rule

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

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

if (seccomp(SECCOMP_ADD_LANDLOCK_RULE, 0, &rule))

If the syscall succeeds, the rule 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.

Inherited rules

Every new thread resulting from a clone(2) inherits Landlock rule restrictions from its parent. This is comparable to the seccomp inheritance as described in Documentation/prctl/seccomp_filter.txt, but differs for rules addition.

If a thread adds a rule for a particular event, then all its future children and their progeny will inherit all the rules from the same event, whether any of those rules were added before or after the fork. This allows a thread to share its security policy with its children and further restrict them over time. If a thread wants its future rules to be propagated, it must then create at least one rule tied to the same event before any fork.

Landlock features

In order to support new features over time without changing a rule behavior, every context field, flag or helpers has a minimal Landlock version in which they are available. A thread needs to specify this minimal version number in the subtype struct landlock_rule defined in include/uapi/linux/bpf.h.


The arch and syscall_nr fields may be useful to tighten an access control, but care must be taken to avoid pitfalls as explain in Documentation/prctl/seccomp_filter.txt.

struct landlock_context

context accessible to a Landlock rule


struct landlock_context {
  __u64 status;
  __u32 arch;
  __u32 syscall_nr;
  __u32 syscall_cmd;
  __u32 event;
  __u64 arg1;
  __u64 arg2;


bitfield for future use (LANDLOCK_SUBTYPE_STATUS_*)
indicates system call convention as an AUDIT_ARCH_* value as defined in <linux/audit.h>
the system call number called by the current process (may be useful to debug: find out from which syscall this request came from)
contains the command used by a multiplexer syscall (e.g. ioctl, fcntl, flock)
event type (enum landlock_subtype_event)
first event’s optional argument
second event’s optional argument

Landlock event types

enum landlock_subtype_event

event occuring when an action is performed on a particular kernel object


invalid value
generic filesystem event


An event is a policy decision point which exposes the same context type (especially the same arg[0-9] field types) for each rule execution.

Event types availability
flags since

File system access request

Optional arguments from struct landlock_context:

  • arg1: filesystem handle
  • arg2: action type

File system action types

Flags are used to express actions. This makes it possible to compose actions and leaves room for future improvements to add more fine-grained action types.

  • LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_EXEC: execute a file or walk through a directory
  • LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_WRITE: modify a file or a directory view (which include mount actions)
  • LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_READ: read a file or a directory
  • LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_NEW: create a file or a directory
  • LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_GET: open or receive a file
  • LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_REMOVE: unlink a file or remove a directory

Each of the following actions are specific to syscall multiplexers. They fill the syscall_cmd field from struct landlock_context with their custom command.

  • LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_IOCTL: ioctl command
  • LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_LOCK: flock or fcntl lock command
  • LANDLOCK_ACTION_FS_FCNTL: fcntl command
FS action types availability
flags since

Ability types

The ability of a Landlock rule describes the available features (i.e. context fields and helpers). This is useful to abstract user-space privileges for Landlock rules, which may not need all abilities (e.g. debug). Only the minimal set of abilities should be used (e.g. disable debug once in production).

Ability types availability
flags since capability

Helper functions

See include/uapi/linux/bpf.h for functions documentation.

Generic functions availability
helper since ability
bpf_map_lookup_elem v1 (none)
bpf_get_current_comm v1 LANDLOCK_SUBTYPE_ABILITY_DEBUG
bpf_get_current_pid_tgid v1 LANDLOCK_SUBTYPE_ABILITY_DEBUG
bpf_get_current_uid_gid v1 LANDLOCK_SUBTYPE_ABILITY_DEBUG
bpf_get_trace_printk v1 LANDLOCK_SUBTYPE_ABILITY_DEBUG
File system functions availability
helper since ability
bpf_handle_fs_get_mode v1 (none)