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crashcart - microcontainer debugging tool


What is crashcart?

crashcart is a simple command line utility that lets you sideload an image with linux binaries into an existing container.

Building crashcart

wercker status

Install rust:

curl -sSf | sh
rustup toolchain install stable-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu
rustup default stable-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu # for stable
rustup target install x86_64-unknown-linux-musl # for stable
rustup toolchain install nightly-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu
rustup default nightly-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu # for nightly
rustup target install x86_64-unknown-linux-musl # for nightly

Building can be done via

By default, builds a dynamic binary using gnu. To build a static binary, set TARGET to x86_64-unknown-linux-musl:

TARGET=x86_64-unknown-linux-musl ./

Building crashcart.img

Image build dependencies:


crashcart will load binaries from an image file into a running container. To build the image, you just need docker installed and then you can use

The build image script will build a crashcart_builder image using the dockerfile in the builder directory. It will then run this builder as a privileged container. It needs to be privileged because the image is created by loopback mounting an ext3 filesystem and copying files in. It may be possible to do this without root privileges using something like e2tools, but these have not been packaged for alpine.

The crashcart_builder will take a very long time the first time it is run. The relocated binaries are built from source via the nix package manager, and the toolchain needs to be built from scratch. Later builds should go much more quickly because the nix store is cached in a in the vol directory and bind mounted into the builder.

To add to the list of packages in the resulting image, simply add the package names to the packages file before building. Packages are installed via the nix-env tool. An up-to-date list of nix packages can be searched here.

Using crashcart

To enter a container and run crashcart's bash just pass the container id:

sudo ./crashcart $ID

$ID can be the container id of a docker or rkt container, or the pid of any process running inside a container.

To run another command from the crashcart image, pass the full path:

sudo ./crashcart $ID /dev/crashcart/bin/tcpdump

To use docker-exec instead of entering the namespaces via crashcart's internal namespace handling, use the -e flag (NOTE: that this requires $ID to be a docker container id):

sudo ./crashcart -e $ID

Manually Running Binaries from the crashcart Image

To manually mount the crashcart image into a container, use the -m flag.

sudo ./crashcart -m $ID

To manually unmount the crashcart image from a container, use the -u flag.

sudo ./crashcart -u $ID

Once you have manually mounted the image, you can use docker exec or nsenter to run things inside the container. crashcart locates its binaries in /dev/crashcart/bin or /dev/crashcart/sbin. To execute tcpdump for example, you can use:

docker exec -it $CONTAINER_ID /dev/crashcart/bin/tcpdump

To run a shell with the all of crashcart's utilities available in the path, you can use:

docker exec -it $CONTAINER_ID -- \
/dev/crashcart/profile/bin/bash --rcfile /dev/crashcart/.crashcartrc -i

You can also do an equivalent command using nsenter:

sudo nsenter -m -u -i -n -p -t $PID -- \
/dev/crashcart/profile/bin/bash --rcfile /dev/crashcart/.crashcartrc -i

Note that if you are using user namespaces you might have to specify -U. You also can use -S and -G to use a different user or group id in the container.

crashcart leaves the image mounted as a loopback device. If there are no containers still using the crashcart image, you can remove the device as follows:

sudo losetup -d `readlink crashcart.img.lnk`; sudo rm crashcart.img.lnk

Known Issues

crashcart doesn't work with user namespaces prior to kernel 4.8. In earlier versions of the kernel, when you attempt to mount a device inside a mount namespace that is a child of a user namespace, the kernel returns EPERM. The logic was changed in 4.8 so that it is possible as long as the caller of mount is in the init userns.


  • add functionality to run image with crashcart mount using docker run -v
  • temporarily remount /dev in the container rw if it is ro
  • allow user to set uid and gid in the container


crashcart is an open source project. See CONTRIBUTING for details.

Oracle gratefully acknowledges the contributions to crashcart that have been made by the community.

Getting in touch

The best way to get in touch is Slack.

Click here to join the the Oracle Container Tools workspace.

Then join the Crashcart channel.


Copyright (c) 2017, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

crashcart is dual licensed under the Universal Permissive License 1.0 and the Apache License 2.0.

See LICENSE for more details.


CrashCart: sideload binaries into a running container




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