Kolla Security

Non Root containers

The OpenStack services, with a few exceptions, run as non root inside of Kolla’s containers. Kolla uses the Docker provided USER flag to set the appropriate user for each service.


The state of SELinux in Kolla is a work in progress. The short answer is you must disable it until selinux polices are written for the Docker containers.

To understand why Kolla needs to set certain selinux policies for services that you wouldn’t expect to need them (rabbitmq, mariadb, glance and so on) we must take a step back and talk about Docker.

Docker has not had the concept of persistent containerized data until recently. This means when a container is run the data it creates is destroyed when the container goes away, which is obviously no good in the case of upgrades.

It was suggested data containers could solve this issue by only holding data if they were never recreated, leading to a scary state where you could lose access to your data if the wrong command was executed. The real answer to this problem came in Docker 1.9 with the introduction of named volumes. You could now address volumes directly by name removing the need for so called data containers all together.

Another solution to the persistent data issue is to use a host bind mount which involves making, for sake of example, host directory var/lib/mysql available inside the container at var/lib/mysql. This absolutely solves the problem of persistent data, but it introduces another security issue, permissions. With this host bind mount solution the data in var/lib/mysql will be owned by the mysql user in the container. Unfortunately, that mysql user in the container could have any UID/GID and thats who will own the data outside the container introducing a potential security risk. Additionally, this method dirties the host and requires host permissions to the directories to bind mount.

The solution Kolla chose is named volumes.

Why does this matter in the case of selinux? Kolla does not run the process. It is launching as root in most cases. So glance-api is run as the glance user, and mariadb is run as the mysql user, and so on. When mounting a named volume in the location that the persistent data will be stored it will be owned by the root user and group. The mysql user has no permissions to write to this folder now. What Kolla does is allow a select few commands to be run with sudo as the mysql user. This allows the mysql user to chown a specific, explicit directory and store its data in a named volume without the security risk and other downsides of host bind mounts. The downside to this is selinux blocks those sudo commands and it will do so until we make explicit policies to allow those operations.

Kolla-ansible users

Prior to Queens, when users want to connect using non-root user, they must add extra option ansible_become=True which is inconvenient and add security risk. In Queens, almost all services have support for escalation for only necessary tasks. In Rocky, all services have this capability, so users do not need to add ansible_become option if connection user has passwordless sudo capability.

Prior to Rocky, ansible_user (the user which Ansible uses to connect via SSH) is default configuration owner and group in target nodes. From Rocky release, Kolla support connection using any user which has passwordless sudo capability. For setting custom owner user and group, user can set config_owner_user and config_owner_group in globals.yml.


Prior to Zed, Kolla Ansible would disable any system firewall leaving configuration up to the end users. Firewalld is now supported and will configure external api ports for each enabled OpenStack service.

The following variables should be configured in Kolla Ansible’s globals.yml

  • external_api_firewalld_zone
    • The default zone to configure ports on for external API Access

    • String - defaults to the public zone

  • enable_external_api_firewalld
    • Setting to true will enable external API ports configuration

    • Bool - set to true or false

  • disable_firewall
    • Setting to false will stop Kolla Ansible from disabling the systems firewall

    • Bool - set to true or false


Firewalld needs to be installed beforehand.

Kayobe can be used to automate the installation and configuration of firewalld before running Kolla Ansible. If you do not use Kayobe you must ensure that that firewalld has been installed and setup correctly.

You can check the current active zones by running the command below. If the output of the command is blank then no zones are configured as active.

sudo firewall-cmd --get-active-zones

You should ensure that the system is reachable via SSH to avoid lockout, to add ssh to a particular zone run the following command.

sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=<zone>  --add-service=ssh

You should also set the required interface on a particular zone by running the below command. This will mark the zone as active on the specified interface.

sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=<zone> --change-interface=<interface>

if more than one interface is required on a specific zone this can be achieved by running

sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --zone=public --add-interface=<additional interface>

Any other ports that need to be opened on the system should be done before hand. The following command will add additional ports to a zone

sudo firewall-cmd --zone=public --add-port=8080/tcp --permanent

Dependent on your infrastructure security policy you may wish to add a policy of drop on the public zone this can be achieved by running the following command.

sudo firewall-cmd --permanent --set-target=DROP --zone=public

To apply changes to the system firewall run

sudo firewalld-cmd --reload

For additional information and configuration please see: https://firewalld.org/documentation/man-pages/firewall-cmd.html