- QEMU may be running with various helper processes involved:
vhost-user* processes (gpu, virtfs, input, etc…)
TPM emulation (or other devices)
user networking (slirp)
network services (DHCP/DNS, samba/ftp etc)
background tasks (compression, streaming etc)
admin & cli
Having several processes allows stricter security rules, as well as greater modularity.
While QEMU itself uses QMP as primary IPC (and Spice/VNC for remote display), D-Bus is the de facto IPC of choice on Unix systems. The wire format is machine friendly, good bindings exist for various languages, and there are various tools available.
Using a bus, helper processes can discover and communicate with each other easily, without going through QEMU. The bus topology is also easier to apprehend and debug than a mesh. However, it is wise to consider the security aspects of it.
A QEMU D-Bus bus should be private to a single VM. Thus, only cooperative tasks are running on the same bus to serve the VM.
D-Bus, the protocol and standard, doesn’t have mechanisms to enforce security between peers once the connection is established. Peers may have additional mechanisms to enforce security rules, based for example on UNIX credentials.
The daemon can control which peers can send/recv messages using various metadata attributes, however, this is alone is not generally sufficient to make the deployment secure. The semantics of the actual methods implemented using D-Bus are just as critical. Peers need to carefully validate any information they received from a peer with a different trust level.
dbus-daemon can enforce various policies based on the UID/GID of the processes that are connected to it. It is thus a good idea to run helpers as different UID from QEMU and set appropriate policies.
Depending on the use case, you may choose different scenarios:
Everything the same UID
Convenient for developers
Improved reliability - crash of one part doesn’t take out entire VM
No security benefit over traditional QEMU, unless additional unless additional controls such as SELinux or AppArmor are applied
Two UIDs, one for QEMU, one for dbus & helpers
Moderately improved user based security isolation
Many UIDs, one for QEMU one for dbus and one for each helpers
Best user based security isolation
Complex to manager distinct UIDs needed for each VM
For example, to allow only
qemu user to talk to
org.qemu.Helper1 service, a dbus-daemon policy may contain:
dbus-daemon can also perform SELinux checks based on the security
context of the source and the target. For example,
could be allowed to send a message to
wouldn’t be allowed to send a message to
See dbus-daemon man page for details.
When implementing new D-Bus interfaces, it is recommended to follow the “D-Bus API Design Guidelines”: https://dbus.freedesktop.org/doc/dbus-api-design.html
The “org.qemu.*” prefix is reserved for services implemented & distributed by the QEMU project.