I am trying to set up a ssh-chroot jail on one of my NAS servers. The system runs on NAS4Free (which is based on nanobsd). The user should be able to run only one command, which is a bash-script that opens ssh to another server and executes one command there.

To setup the chroot I have this in my sshd config.

Match User op
    ChrootDirectory %h
    X11Forwarding no
    AllowTcpForwarding no

The script has this line in it:

ssh -i /.ssh/id_rsa backup@$externalresource -t "/mnt/storage/backup/run_project.sh '$1' '$2'"

I can log in to that chroot using ssh but when I run the script it gives the following error when trying to execute the ssh command in it.

Couldn't open /dev/null: Operation not supported

The same happens, when I try to run ssh plain within the chroot

[I have no name!@nas /]$ ssh
Couldn't open /dev/null: Operation not supported

/dev/null looks as this:

$ ls -la dev/
total 8
drwx--x--x  2 root  staff    512 Nov 29 18:16 .
drwxr-xr-x  8 root  staff    512 Nov 29 18:06 ..
crw-rw-rw-  1 root  staff   0x18 Nov 29 18:16 null

Without the 666 permissions I get a /dev/null permission denied error of course.

I created dev/null using

mknod dev/null c 2 2

I have tried to find an explaination why /dev/null returns operation not permitted but have not found anything that helps.

Could someone please explain how to fix this?

  • Can you a strace -f of your ssh daemon when you get the error?
    – Fredi
    Nov 30, 2016 at 16:18
  • Unfortunately NAS4Free has no strace. I will try to install it Nov 30, 2016 at 16:28
  • Fredi is viewing the world through Linux glasses. On NAS4Free one would use truss.
    – JdeBP
    Nov 30, 2016 at 16:30
  • nvm just found truss and ran ssh with it. here the paste pastebin.com/eQLvLMD1 The error appears at line 109 openat(AT_FDCWD,"/dev/null",O_RDWR,00) ERR#45 'Operation not supported' Nov 30, 2016 at 16:49

1 Answer 1


I created dev/null using

mknod dev/null c 2 2

Your knowledge is outdated. Things do not work this way any more, now that NAS4Free is based on the likes of FreeBSD 10 and 11. (Nor are those the device numbers for the null device anyway.) Read the mknod manual. You can still run mknod to create device nodes in an actual disc or RAM filesystem, but the nodes that you create will be pretty much entirely useless. As you can see, the kernel does not let you open devices with them.

This is why in jails — actual jails, the ones that come with the operating system, not simple chrooted environments that one can set up with sshd_config — one obtains the device files by mounting a devfs instance within the jail. It is also why jails have knobs to control whether devfs can be mounted and what devfs ruleset applies to it.

If you want a /dev/null in your changed root environment, you'll have to use mount_nullfs to make the actual /dev tree visible within the changed root. If you use a bona fide jail, just configure it to mount a devfs on /dev.

If you do use a bona fide jail, you of course set it up to run sshd inside the jail, listening on the jail's IP address and enabled as a service in the jail's /etc/rc.conf in the normal way.

Further reading

  • Yes I tried to set up a jail using nullfs in NAS4Free and starting it with /etc/rc.d/jail onestart but that didn't work either. It was also not the approach I wanted, as it obviously needs a whole OS environment to be installed in the jail - which is overkill as all the user should have access to was running one ssh command. My NAS is embedded (as recommend by NAS4Free) and has an encrypted storage, which makes it awkward to set up the jail on boot (the jail_start script has to be stored somewhere in /mnt/storage but /mnt/storage has to be decrypted and mounted manually). Dec 1, 2016 at 8:20

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