Started to use Podman recently. Got stucked on the non-root user environment for hours. Write down some notices here.

Error Messages

  • setup user: cannot set uid to unmapped user in user namespace
  • starting container process caused "setup user: invalid argument": oci runtime error


  1. Generate and modify /etc/subuid and /etc/subgid files first.
    • Can use sudo usermod --add-subuids 100000-165536 --add-subgids 100000-165536 ${YOUR_USERNAME} to modify these two files.
  2. podman system migrate
    • Lots of resources didn't tell you that you should execute this command after modifying /etc/subuid and /etc/subgid to make it works for Podman. (Or maybe the problem is I should read the tutoril for Podman first. Anyway.)
    • If you have built the images before executing podman system migarte, you should re-build those images again without using image cache. Or, you can just use podman rmi to delete those images and re-build them.
      • Including the base image like Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux which you pulled from somewhere. Yes, you should delete it and re-build. Otherwise, you will still get the error.
  3. podman unshare cat /proc/self/uid_map to check if it works.
    • Should be like this:
$ podman unshare cat /proc/self/uid_map  
         0       1000          1  
         1     100000      65536  
  1. podman build with existing Dockerfile

Meaning in /etc/subuid and /etc/subgid

Take /etc/subuid as example:

  • user is the username of the system user. Can be uid as well.
  • 100000 is the system UID for the container UID to start with.
  • 65536 is the number of UIDs allowed to be mapped.
  • Which means UID 100000~165535 on system are allowed for mapping to system user user while running container as this system user.
  • UID 0 in the container will be UID 100000 on the system. UID 1 in the container will be UID 100001 on the system etc.
  • Which related to the command podman unshare cat /proc/self/uid_map mentioned above.

Change the UID above to GID for /etc/subgid




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