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This is cinf, short for container info, a command line tool to view namespaces and cgroups, the stuff that makes up Linux containers such as Docker, rkt/appc, or OCI/runc. It might be useful for low-level container prodding, when you need to understand what's going on under the hood. Read more here: Containers are a lie



Simply download the Linux binary:

curl -s -L \
     -o cinf.tar.gz && \
     tar xvzf cinf.tar.gz cinf && \
     mv cinf /usr/local/bin && \
     rm cinf*

Or build from source (note that you'll get the latest, experimental version via this method):

go get

GOOS=linux go build

The cinf package docs are available online.


The following sections show basic usage. For a complete end-to-end usage, see the walkthrough.

Note that if you want to see detailed debug messages, you can do that via a DEBUG environment variable, like so: sudo DEBUG=true cinf.

To see all namespaces

To list all available namespaces and a summary of how many processes are in them along with the user IDs and the top-level command line executed, simply do the following:

$ sudo cinf

NAMESPACE   TYPE  NPROCS  USERS                     CMD

4026532396  pid   1       1000                      sleep10000
4026532398  net   1       1000                      sleep10000
4026531837  user  109     0,1,101,102,104,106,1000  /sbin/init
4026532196  pid   2       0,104                     nginx: master proces
4026532293  mnt   1       0                         md5sum/dev/urandom
4026532298  net   1       0                         md5sum/dev/urandom
4026532393  mnt   1       1000                      sleep10000
4026532296  pid   1       0                         md5sum/dev/urandom
4026531840  mnt   104     0,1,101,102,106,1000      /sbin/init
4026531839  ipc   105     0,1,101,102,106,1000      /sbin/init
4026531836  pid   105     0,1,101,102,106,1000      /sbin/init
4026532193  mnt   2       0,104                     nginx: master proces
4026532198  net   2       0,104                     nginx: master proces
4026531838  uts   105     0,1,101,102,106,1000      /sbin/init
4026532194  uts   2       0,104                     nginx: master proces
4026532294  uts   1       0                         md5sum/dev/urandom
4026532394  uts   1       1000                      sleep10000
4026532395  ipc   1       1000                      sleep10000
4026531956  net   105     0,1,101,102,106,1000      /sbin/init
4026531856  mnt   1       0
4026532195  ipc   2       0,104                     nginx: master proces
4026532295  ipc   1       0                         md5sum/dev/urandom

To dig into a namespace

Assuming we're interested in more information on namespace 4026532398, we would do the following:

$ sudo cinf --namespace 4026532193

To dig into a cgroup

Let's dig into a specific cgroup (with hierarchy ID 3) of a process (with PID 27681):

$ sudo cinf --cgroup 27681:3

To dig into a process

It is also possible to list the namespaces a specific process is in:

$ sudo cinf --pid 27681

To monitor a process

The interactive, top like mode of cinf is as follows. Let's say we want to monitor the control files memory.usage_in_bytes, cpuacct.usage, and blkio.throttle.io_service_bytes for process with PID 27681:

$ sudo cinf --mon 27681:memory.usage_in_bytes,cpuacct.usage,blkio.throttle.io_service_bytes

Note that a more detailed usage description is available via the walkthrough.

CLI reference

There are three arguments you can provide to cinf, to dig into specific aspects of a namespace, cgroup, or process:

  • --namespace $NAMESPACE_ID … List details about namespace with provided ID.
  • --cgroup $PID:$CGROUP_HIERARCHY_ID … List details of a cgroup a process belongs to.
  • --pid $PID … List namespaces the process with provided process ID is in.
  • --mon $PID:$CF1,$CF2,… … Monitor process with provided process ID and the control files specified.

The meaning of the output columns is as follows:

  • Overview (without arguments):
    • NAMESPACE … the namespace ID
    • TYPE … the type of namespace, see also explanation of the namespaces below
    • NPROCS … number of processes in the namespace
    • USERS … user IDs in the namespace
    • CMD … command line of the root process
  • Detailed namespace view (--namespace):
    • PID … process ID
    • PPID … process ID of parent
    • NAME … process name
    • CMD … process command line
    • NTHREADS… number of threads
    • CGROUPS … summary of the attached cgroups
    • STATE … process state
  • Detailed cgroups view (--cgroup):
    • CONTROLFILE … the name of the control file, see also cgroup man pages below
    • VALUE … the content of the control file
  • Detailed process view (--pid):
    • NAMESPACE … the namespace ID
    • TYPE … the type of namespace
  • Monitor process view (--mon):
    • PID … process ID
    • PPID … process ID of parent
    • UIDS … real, effective, saved set, filesystem user ID
    • STATE … process state
    • NAMESPACE … the IDs of the namespaces the process is in
    • CONTROLFILE … the name of the control file, see also cgroup man pages below
    • VALUE … the content of the control file


I developed cinf because existing tools like systemd-cgtop or lsns didn't do what I wanted. Also, I needed it for educational purposes (like training sessions, etc.). Note that the output format cinf uses is modelled after lsns, so kudos to Karel for the inspiration.

If you want to learn more about container building blocks such as namespaces and cgroups, check out

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