I started some investigation about how to run Linux Containers on Devuan Linux 5.0 (Daedalus), as I run it on my server. For this I first did set up a local VM which replicates my virtual server. I use qemu for this and created a script called vm‑netcup which is part of my dotfiles repository and sets qemu parameters accordingly.

Installation via apt-get install lxc works as expected. So far so good - but things should not go that smoothly for much longer.


LXC relies on cgroups, a Linux kernel feature for isolation, limitation and accounting of resource usage of processes. On distributions using systemd this is set up by systemd, but with Devuan I chose to not use systemd.

You guessed it: lxc-checkconfig and ls /sys/fs/cgroup show that cgroups are not set up by default (at least not with my minimal installation). LXC can work with cgroups v1 but cgroups v2 provide a cleaner, unified hierarchy and therefore are my preferred way.

To mount the cgroup v2 filesystem at boot time, I simply created an additional entry in the /etc/fstab file:
none /sys/fs/cgroup cgroup2 defaults 0 0

In case you want to use cgroups v1 you can install the cgroupfs-mount package which installs a service to perform the required mounts at boot time.

That’s all that is required to set up cgroups for LXC.

unpriviledged vs. priviledged containers

In short: We want unpriviledged containers whenever possible. Those map user ids inside the container to a different range on the host and therefore are the safest option. For example user id 0 (root) in an unpriviledged container would be mapped to user id 100000 on the host. A user id 0 (root) on a priviledged container on the other hand also would be root on the host.

/etc/subuid and /etc/subgid contain the ranges for mapping uid and gid on the host, but those values also need to be reflected in the lxc configuration as described below.


For configuration LXC distinguishes between system and container configuration. See the according man pages lxc.container.conf and lxc.system.conf for further information.

By default LXC on my system used ~/.local/share/lxc/ for container storage. This resulted in LXC complaining about the users home directory not having x permission for the root user of the container and starting the container failed.

Therefore I decided to move the container storage to /var/lib/lxc/<user>. This directory needs to be created as root and owernship as well as permissions need to be set as follows:
chown <user>:<group> /var/lib/lxc/<user>
chmod 711 /var/lib/lxc/<user>

Once this is done we can continue as regular user. We create a file .config/lxc/lxc.conf and configure the container storage path in it:
lxc.lxcpath = /var/lib/lxc/<user>

/etc/lxc/default.conf contains the system wide container default configuration. We copy this file to ~/.config/lxc/default.conf and modify it to create our user specific defaults.

Be aware that this file only contains the default configuration used during creation of a new container. Once created every container has its own configuration file in its according folder within the container storage path.

We now add the following lines for configuration of the uid and gid mapping. The values used here must match the values defined in /etc/subuid and /etc/subgid for the according user:
lxc.idmap = u 0 100000 65536
lxc.idmap = g 0 100000 65536

Additionaly we change the AppArmor profile as follows:
lxc.apparmor.profile = unconfined

creating a new container

For creation of a new container we use the lxc-create command. lxc-create -t download -n <container-name> is a good start and provides an interactive way to create a new container. In my case I want to install the 3.18 release for the amd64 architecture of the alpine distribution.

This all also can be packed into the command directly:
lxc-create -t download -n <container-name> -- --dist alpine --release 3.18 --arch amd64


With all this set up the container still fails to start because it cannot set up its network. By default unprivileged containers cannot use any networking. We need to create an additional configuration file /etc/lxc/lxc-usernet as root. This file must have an entry to allow the user to add veth devices - up to 16 in in my case - to the lxcbr0 bridge:
<user> veth lxcbr0 16

using the container

To start an already existing container the command lxc-start -n <container-name> is used. With everything I described above done the container does start without issues. Previously appearing tmpfs: Bad value for 'uid' error message were related to the Devuan container image used. The errors disappeared after I switched to using the Alpine Linux image.

Once the container is running we can start a process in the container with lxc-attach. For example lxc-attach -n <container-name> bash will provide shell access to the container.

For stopping the container again we use lxc-stop -n <container-name>.

In case the container isn’t running we directly can run a command in it with lxc-execute. For example lxc-execute -n <container-name> bash will provide shell access as before.


I am not done with this topic yet but for now this is a good foundation and a playground to further investigate if I want to run containers on the server. I might update this post at some point if I have any points worth mentioning.

Especially the network setup was barely touched here and could be a topic for a separate post at some point. For now that’s it …