Dustin Kirkland: Hotfix Your Ubuntu Kernels with the Canonical Livepatch Service ...
Introducting the Canonical Livepatch Service

Howdy!

Ubuntu 16.04 LTS’s 4.4 linux kernel includes an important new security capability in Ubuntu -- the ability to modify the running Linux kernel code, without rebooting, through a mechanism called kernel livepatch .

Today, Canonical has publicly launched the Canonical Livepatch Service -- an authenticated, encrypted, signed stream of Linux livepatches that apply to the 64-bit Intel/AMD architecture of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial) Linux 4.4 kernel, addressing the highest and most critical security vulnerabilities, without requiring a reboot in order to take effect. This is particularly amazing for Container hosts -- Docker, LXD, etc. -- as all of the containers share the same kernel, and thus all instances benefit.

I’ve tried to answer below some questions that you might have. As you have others, you’re welcome

to add them to the comments below or on Twitter with hastag #Livepatch .


Dustin Kirkland: Hotfix Your Ubuntu Kernels with the Canonical Livepatch Service ...
Retrieve your token from ubuntu.com/livepatch Q: How do I enable theCanonical Livepatch Service?

A: Three easy steps, on a fully up-to-date 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 LTS system.

Go to https://ubuntu.com/livepatch and retrieve your livepatch token Install the canonical-livepatch snap
$ sudo snap install canonical-livepatch Enable the service with your token
$ sudo canonical-livepatch enable [TOKEN]

And you’re done! You can check the status at any time using:

$ canonical-livepatch status --verbose

Q: What are the system requirements?

A: The Canonical Livepatch Service is available for the generic and low latency flavors of the 64-bit Intel/AMD (aka, x86_64, amd64) builds of the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial) kernel, which is a Linux 4.4 kernel. Canonical livepatches work on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Servers and Desktops, on physical machines, virtual machines, and in the cloud. The safety, security, and stability firmly depends on unmodified Ubuntu kernels and network access to the Canonical Livepatch Service ( https://livepatch.canonical.com:443 ). You also will need to apt update/upgrade to the latest version of snapd (at least 2.15).

Q: What about other architectures? A: The upstream Linux livepatch functionality is currently limited to the 64-bit x86 architecture, at this time. IBM is working on support for POWER8 and s390x (LinuxOne mainframe), and there’s also active upstream development on ARM64 , so we do plan to support these eventually. The livepatch plumbing for 32-bit ARM and 32-bit x86 are not under upstream development at this time.

Q: What about other flavors?

A: We are providing the Canonical Livepatch Service for the generic and low latency (telco) flavors of the the Linux kernel at this time.

Q: What about other releases of Ubuntu? A: The Canonical Livepatch Service is provided for Ubuntu 16.04 LTS’s Linux 4.4 kernel. Older releases of Ubuntu will not work, because they’re missing the Linux kernel support. Interim releases of Ubuntu (e.g. Ubuntu 16.10) are targeted at developers and early adopters, rather than Long Term Support users or systems that require maximum uptime. We will consider providing livepatches for the HWE kernels in 2017.

Q: What about derivatives of Ubuntu? A: Canonical livepatches are fully supported on the 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Desktop, Cloud, and Server operating systems. On other Ubuntu derivatives, your mileage may vary! These are not part of our automated continuous integration quality assurance testing framework for Canonical Livepatches. Canonical Livepatch safety, security, and stability will firmly depend on unmodified Ubuntu generic kernels and network access to the Canonical Livepatch Service .

Q: How does Canonical test livepatches? A: Every livepatch is rigorously tested in Canonical's in-house CI/CD (Continuous Integration / Continuous Delivery) quality assurance system, which tests hundreds of combinations of livepatches, kernels, hardware, physical machines, and virtual machines. Once a livepatch passes CI/CD and regression tests, it's rolled out on a canary testing basis, first to a tiny percentage of the Ubuntu Community users of the Canonical Livepatch Service . Based on the success of that microscopic rollout, a moderate rollout follows. And assuming those also succeed, the livepatch is delivered to all free Ubuntu Community and paid Ubuntu Advantage users of the service. Systemic failures are automatically detected and raised for inspection by Canonical engineers. Ubuntu Community users of the Canonical Livepatch Service who want to eliminate the small chance of being randomly chosen as a canary should enroll in the Ubuntu Advantage program (starting at $12/month). Q: What kinds of updates will be provided by the Canonical Livepatch Service ? A: The Canonical Livepatch Service is intended to address high and critical severity Linux kernel security vulnerabilities, as identified by Ubuntu Security Notices and the CVE database. Note that there are some limitations to the kernel livepatch technology -- some Linux kernel code paths cannot be safely patched while running. We will do our best to supply Canonical Livepatches for high and critical vulnerabilities in a

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