Darling supports use of multiple prefixes (virtual root directories), very much like Wine. Unlike Wine, Darling makes use of Linux's support for various user-controlled namespaces. This makes Darling's prefixes behave a lot more like Docker/LXC containers.


The implementation fully resides in the darling binary, which performs several tasks:

  • Create a new mount namespace. Mounts created inside the namespace are automatically destroyed when the container is stopped.
  • Set up an overlayfs mount, which overlays Darling's readonly root tree (which is installed e.g. in /usr/local/libexec/darling) with the prefix's path. This means the prefix gets updated prefix contents for free (unlike in Wine), but the user can still manipulate prefix contents.
  • Activate "vchroot". That is what we call our virtual chroot implementation, which still allows applications to escape into the outside system via a special directory (/Volumes/SystemRoot).
  • Set up a new PID namespace. launchd is then started as the init process for the container.

More namespaces (e.g. UID or network) will be considered in future.


  • When you make changes to Darling's installation directory (e.g. /usr/local/libexec/darling), you must stop running containers (via darling shutdown) so that the changes take effect. This is a limitaton of overlayfs.