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Mbox -

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Tags: containers mbox sandboxing
Clipped on: 2014-02-10


Mbox is a lightweight sandboxing mechanism that any user can use without special privileges in commodity operating systems.

$ git clone


$ mbox -- wget
Network Summary:
 > [11279] ->
 > [11279] Create socket(PF_INET,...)
 > [11279] -> a00::2607:f8b0:4006:803:0
Sandbox Root:
 > /tmp/sandbox-11275
 >  N:/tmp/index.html
[c]ommit, [i]gnore, [d]iff, [l]ist, [s]hell, [q]uit ?> 

What 'sandbox' are you talking about?

Mbox introduces a novel sandbox usage model; when executing a program in the sandbox, Mbox prevents programs from modifying the host filesystem while giving them the impression that they are in fact making those modifications. Mbox achieves this by providing a layered sandbox filesystem and by interposing on system calls with ptrace and seccomp/BPF. At the end of program execution, the user can examine changes in the sandbox filesystem, and selectively commit them back to the host filesystem.

Under what circumstances can Mbox help?

Usage 1: Installing packages without root

 $ mbox -R -- apt-get install git
  (-R: emulate a fakeroot environment)

Usage 2: Running unknown binary safely

 $ mbox -n -- wget
  (-n: disable remote network accesses)

Usage 3: Checkpointing filesystem

 $ mbox -i -- sh
  (-i: enable interactive commit-mode)

Usage 4: Build/development environment

 $ mbox -r outdir -- make
  (-r dir: specify a sandbox filesystem)

Usage 5: Profile-based sandbox

 $ mbox -p -- ./configure
  (-p prof: enable profile-based policy)
    allow: .
    hide: ~



$ wget
$ sudo pacman -U mbox-latest-x86_64.pkg.tar.xz


$ wget
$ sudo dpkg -i mbox-latest.amd64.deb

Here is a list of available options.

$ mbox -h
usage: sandbox [-r root] [-s] [PROG]
        -m      : keep md5 of original files
        -c      : count time, calls, and errors for each syscall and report summary
        -d      : enable syscall trace to stderr
        -D      : enable debug
        -p file : load profile (see. NOTE.profile)
        -t      : run as unit tester (check pre/post condition, see tests-sbox/NOTE)
        -n      : disable network accesses
        -S      : enable nested seccomp
        -i      : disable interactive session at the end
        -s      : use seccomp instead of ptrace
        -R      : fakeroot
        -C path : change directory
        -r path : sandbox root (default:/tmp/sandbox-)