MesaLock Linux: A Memory-Safe Linux Distribution
MesaLock Linux is a general purpose Linux distribution which aims to provide a safe and secure user space environment. To eliminate high-severe vulnerabilities caused by memory corruption, the whole user space applications are rewritten in memory-safe programming languages like Rust and Go. This extremely reduces attack surfaces of an operating system exposed in the wild, leaving the remaining attack surfaces auditable and restricted. Therefore, MesaLock Linux can substantially improve the security of the Linux ecosystem. Additionally, thanks to the Linux kernel, MesaLock Linux supports a broad hardware environment, making it deployable in many places. Two main usage scenarios of MesaLock Linux are for containers and security-sensitive embedded devices. With the growth of the ecosystem, MesaLock Linux would also be adopted in the server environment in the future.
To get better functionality along with strong security guarantees, MesaLock Linux follows the following rules-of-thumb for hybrid memory-safe architecture designing proposed by the Rust SGX SDK project.
- Unsafe components should be appropriately isolated and modularized, and the size should be small (or minimized).
- Unsafe components should not weaken the safe, especially, public APIs and data structures.
- Unsafe components should be clearly identified and easily upgraded.
You can quickly experience MesaLock Linux in the container environment using Docker.
$ docker run -it mesalocklinux/mesalock-linux
Currently, MesaLock Linux is provided in two versions: live ISO and rootfs. The live ISO image can be used to create a bootable live USB, or boot in a virtual machine. The rootfs (i.e., root file system) can be used as a minimal root image for a container.
Clone MesaLock repository
$ mkdir mesalock-linux && cd mesalock-linux $ git clone https://github.com/mesalock-linux/mesalock-distro.git $ git clone https://github.com/mesalock-linux/packages.git $ cd mesalock-distro
Build in Docker
We provide a
Dockerfile for building MesaLock Linux with all dependencies installed. You can build the docker image first and then in the building container environment, you can build packages, live ISO, and rootfs.
$ docker build -t mesalocklinux/build-mesalock-linux --rm build-dockerfile $ docker run -v $(dirname $(pwd)):/mesalock-linux -w /mesalock-linux \ -it mesalocklinux/build-mesalock-linux /bin/bash
The image of building environment are also provided from Docker Hub. You can pull and run the container with the repo name
Build on Ubuntu
You can also build a Ubuntu machine, please install these building dependencies first:
$ # install packages $ apt-get update && \ apt-get install -q -y --no-install-recommends \ curl \ git \ build-essential \ wget \ bc \ gawk \ parallel \ pigz \ cpio \ xorriso \ fakeroot \ syslinux-utils \ uuid-dev \ libmpc-dev \ libisl-dev \ libz-dev \ software-properties-common $ # install Go $ add-apt-repository -y ppa:gophers/archive && \ apt-get update && \ apt-get install -q -y --no-install-recommends \ golang-1.9-go $ # install Rust $ curl https://sh.rustup.rs -sSf | sh -s -- -y && \ rustup default nightly $ # setup PATH $ export PATH="$HOME/.cargo/bin:/usr/lib/go-1.9/bin:$PATH"
Build packages, live ISO, and rootfs
After installing building dependencies, you can run following commands to build packages, live ISO, and rootfs.
- First build all packages:
- Build the live ISO:
- Build the container rootfs:
- Build a specific package only:
The live ISO (
mesalock-linux.iso) and rootfs (
rootfs.tar.gz) can be found in the
MesaLock Linux can be run in real devices (e.g., boot from a Live USB), virtual machines, and docker containers.
You can try MesaLock Linux with Live ISO or in a docker container. Here are steps to try MesaLock Linux in VirtualBox.
- Open VirtualBox and "New" a VM.
- In the VM settings, choose
mesalock-linux.isoas "Optical Drive".
- Start the VM and explore MesaLock Linux.
We provide a simple
Dockerfile for MesaLock Linux. Here are steps to try MesaLock Linux in a docker container.
- Copy rootfs into the docker directory:
cp build/rootfs.tar.gz mesalockrootfs-dockerfile/
- Build the docker image:
docker build --rm -t mesalocklinux/mesalock-linux mesalockrootfs-dockerfile
- Run the image and expeience MesaLock Linux:
docker run --rm -it mesalocklinux/mesalock-linux
The latest rootfs image with all pacakges are pushed to Docker Hub. You can also directly run the image with the repo name
Example: hosting web servers
mesalock-demo package provides several examples and will be installed under the
/root/mesalock-demo directory. For instance, we made several web server demos written in Rocket, which is a web framework written in Rust. To try these demos in the VM, please follow these instructions.
- In the VM settings, select "NAT" for network adapter and use port forwarding function in the advanced settings to bind host and guest machines. Here we add a new rule to bind host IP (127.0.0.1:8080) with guest IP (10.0.2.15:8000).
- Start MesaLock Linux.
- Bring up all network devices. Here we use
$ ip link set lo up $ ip link set eth0 up
- Setup IP address of the network devices.
$ ip address add 10.0.2.15/24 dev eth0
- Run a web server.
$ cd /root/mesalock-demo/rocket-hello-world && ./hello_world $ # or $ cd /root/mesalock-demo/rocket-tls && ./tls
- Finally, connect to the web server using a browser. In this example, type in http://127.0.0.1:8080 in the browser.
MesaLock Linux provides many packages with memory safety in mind. All user space applications are written in Rust and Go. Thanks to the open source community, they have crated many useful and high-quality tools. The number of packages will increase as the time goes on.
brotli: compression tool written in Rust (dropbox/rust-brotli)
busybox: busybox tool set for testing only (busybox)
exa: replacement for ls written in Rust (ogham/exa)
fd-find: simple, fast and user-friendly alternative to find (sharkdp/fd)
filesystem: base filesystem layout (maintained by MesaLock Linux)
gcc-libs: GCC library, only libgcc_s.so is used (gcc)
giproute2: ip tool written in Go (maintained by MesaLock Linux)
glibc: the GNU C library (glibc)
init: init script (maintained by MesaLock Linux)
ion-shell: shell written in Rust (redox-os/ion)
linux: Linux kernel (linux)
mesalock-demo: some demo projects (maintained by MesaLock Linux)
mgetty: getty written in Rust (maintained by MesaLock Linux)
micro: modern and intuitive terminal-based text editor in written Go (zyedidia/micro)
minit: init written in Rust (maintained by MesaLock Linux)
ripgrep: ripgrep combines the usability of The Silver Searcher with the raw speed of grep, written in Rust (BurntSushi/ripgrep)
syslinux: bootloader (syslinux)
tokei: count your code, quickly, in Rust (Aaronepower/tokei)
tzdata: timezone data (tzdata)
uutils-coreutils: cross-platform Rust rewrite of the GNU coreutils (uutils/coreutils)
uutils-findutils: rust implementation of findutils (uutils/findutils)
xi-core: a modern editor with a backend written in Rust (google/xi-editor)
xi-tui: a tui frontend for Xi (little-dude/xi-tui)
MesaLock Linux is very young and at an early stage. Some important components are still missing or work-in-progress. Building a safe and secure Linux distro relies on the whole community, and you are very welcome to contribute to the MesaLock Linux project.
You can get involved in various forms:
- Try to use MesaLock Linux, report issue, enhancement suggestions, etc
- Contribute to MesaLock Linux: optimize development process, improve documents, closing issues, etc
- Contribute to core packages of MesaLock Linux: improving
- Writing applications using memory safe programming languages like Rust/Go, and joining the the MesaLock Linux packages
- Auditing source code of the MesaLock Linux projects and related packages
You are welcome to send pull requests and report issues on GitHub.
If you are interested in the MesaLock Linux project, please find us on the
#mesalock-linux-cn (in Chinese) IRC channels at the freenode server and the bridged room on Matrix. If you're not familiar with IRC, we recommend chatting through Matrix via Riot or via the Kiwi web IRC client.
- Mingshen Sun
MesaLock Linux is provided under the BSD license.