So I'm trying to get a handle on how Linux's mount namespace works. So, I did a little experiment and opened up two terminals and ran the following:

Terminal 1

root@goliath:~# mkdir a b
root@goliath:~# touch a/foo.txt
root@goliath:~# unshare --mount -- /bin/bash
root@goliath:~# mount --bind a b
root@goliath:~# ls b

Terminal 2

root@goliath:~# ls b

How come the mount is visible in Terminal 2? Since it is not part of the mount namespace I expected the directory to appear empty here. I also tried passing -o shared=no and using --make-private options with mount, but I got the same result.

What am I missing and how can I make it actually private?

  • mounts are system-wide, not specific to a shell environment. shared, slave, private, and unbindable are not what you think they are. read man mount. – cas Nov 30 '15 at 4:20
  • 3
    @cas: Agree that --make-private is not what I want. But, isn't that the point of mount namespaces (that they're not system wide)? – FatalError Nov 30 '15 at 4:24

If you are on a systemd based distribution with a util-linux version less than 2.27, you will see this unintuitive behaviour. This is because CLONE_NEWNS propogates flags such as shared depending on a setting in the kernel. This setting is normally private, but systemd changes this to shared. As of util-linux 2.27, a patch was made that changes the default behaviour of the unshare command to use private as the default propagation behaviour as to be more intuitive.


If you are on a systemd system with <2.27 util-linux, you must remount the root filesystem after running the unshare command:

# unshare --mount -- /bin/bash
# mount --make-private -o remount /

If you are on a systemd system with >=2.27 util-linux, it should work as expected in the example you gave in your question, verbatim, without the need to remount. If not: pass --propagation private to the unshare command to force the propagation of the mount namespace to be private.

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this not worked in ubuntu, (15.04 and 14.04). it worked on fedora. and for fedora. whether you need --make-private or not, you can also check

cat /proc/self/mountinfo | grep shared

if shared, it means some other namespace still can see that mounts. Then it is systemd related issue. You can use --make-private to make it work

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