Ubuntu Canonical Livepatch Service

Since I am running several machines with LXD 1 containers, it is extra important to keep the host kernel up-to-date with security patches since every container uses the host kernel. Using Canonicals Livepatch Service enables live patching without a reboot / restart for free for up to 3 machines.

Notice: Once a livepatch passes Ubuntu’s internal test, it is rolled out on a canary testing basis, first to a tiny percentage of the Ubuntu Community users of the Canonical Livepatch Service - the free tier of this service. If you do not wan’t the risk of ending up being a guinea pig you need to pay for the service.

For this to work you need:

  • Fully updated 64-bit Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial) running kernel 4.4 (GA) 2 and not the optional HWE kernel which is at 4.8
  • A free Ubuntu One account

To install and enable livepatching simply do:

  1. Go to https://ubuntu.com/livepatch and select “Ubuntu User” and click “Get your Livepatch token” to retrieve your livepatch token
  2. In the terminal install the service
    $ sudo snap install canonical-livepatch
    
  1. Enable the service with the token retrieved from step 1
    $ sudo canonical-livepatch enable "Livepatch token from step 1"
    
  1. Check if the service is running
    $ canonical-livepatch status --verbose
    client-version: "7.21"
    machine-id: 432b7728d2c94336325f494158288c1b
    machine-token: ec2a887cc4ff40edbfaa590cd73f9266
    architecture: x86_64
    cpu-model: QEMU Virtual CPU version (cpu64-rhel6)
    last-check: 2017-04-13T12:56:36.992+02:00
    boot-time: 2017-04-13T12:56:21+02:00
    uptime: 2m43s
    status:
    - kernel: 4.4.0-72.93-generic
      running: true
      livepatch:
     checkState: checked
     patchState: nothing-to-apply
     version: ""
     fixes: ""
    
  1. LXD (pronounced lex-dee) is a container based hypervisor that runs unmodified Linux guest operating systems with VM-style operations at higher speed and density than a full blown traditional hypervisor like VMWare and KVM. Take a look at my posts here and here for more info. 

  2. The general availability (GA) kernel is based on the generic kernel that originally ships with a new Ubuntu version. New hardware gets released all the time and if an Ubuntu host is running an older kernel then that hardware likely won’t be supported by it. Ubuntu’s response to this is to backport more recent kernels. Doing this effectively enables more hardware. Hence, HWE is an acronym for HardWare Enablement. (Source

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