[Rd] Advice on parsing / overriding function calls

elw at stderr.org elw at stderr.org
Thu Aug 16 17:33:46 CEST 2007

> The issue is more about whether he wants to limit *all* file system
> access or just limiting to certain areas. For the former,
> I would set up a chroot jail and run R from within; for the latter,
> I would probably do something with LD_LIBRARY_PRELOAD to override
> all the file system accessing functions in libc directly, really.
> That would fix the problem with system(rm) and some such, I think,
> because if your entire R process and any sub-process R launches has no
> access to the genuine libc fwrite/fread/etc functions you cannot do
> any demage, right?
> Both are tricky and take time to do (the chroot jail a bit easier,
> actually...), but quite do-able.

a sneaky trick:

for each compute session, automate setting up a zone ("solaris 
containers") on a solaris 10+ box.  if you have a 
preinstalled/preconfigured zone template, snapshotted with zfs, you can 
roll out a new compute zone in literally seconds.  you can quota it, limit 
the amount of CPU it gets, etc.  really not very difficult at all to set 
up.  sun's tools are *great* for this nowadays.

this is substantially safer than chroot() or LD_PRELOAD tricks, and lets 
you do this stuff without having to invent the wheel.

it also reduces overhead to the point where you really *can* set up a 
naked compute (well, with R in it...) environment for every compute 
session getting instantiated.  in way, way, way less time than it takes 
for the computations to actually run.

if someone does system(rm) in a container... who cares?  they just trashed 
their own session, and nothing else.  just blow the trashed ones away 


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