Filesystem actions in containers fail with `Too many levels of symbolic links`

This document (000020104) is provided subject to the disclaimer at the end of this document.



When attempting to perform a filesystem action inside a container with a volume located on an autofs directory, the error Too many levels of symbolic links is thrown and the action fails.

bash: cd: /data: Too many levels of symbolic links


  • Docker container or Kubernetes Pod with a volume defined that is mounted on the host with autofs, typically backed by NFS

Root cause

As the share that backs the autofs volume isn't mounted until the directory specified is accessed, it is typically not mounted when a container is run.
With the default Docker bind-mount propagation of rprivate, containers do not receive mount changes for volumes from the host.


Docker - Mount the volume in question with the flag slave, rslave, shared, or rshared to ensure that mount changes are propagated to the container.
docker run -d -v /path/to/autofs:/data:shared ubuntu

See the links at the bottom of this article for info on what each of these flags does

Kubernetes - Define mountPropagation for the volume in question as either HostToContainer (same as Docker's rslave) or Bidirectional (same as Docker's rshared):

kind: Pod
apiVersion: v1
  name: test-app
    - name: test
      image: busybox
      - mountPath: "/data"
        name: test-app-vol
        mountPropagation: HostToContainer
    - name: test-app-vol
        path: /data

Further reading

Docker bind propagation -
Kubernetes mountPropagation -
Linux Kernel Shared Subtree -


This Support Knowledgebase provides a valuable tool for SUSE customers and parties interested in our products and solutions to acquire information, ideas and learn from one another. Materials are provided for informational, personal or non-commercial use within your organization and are presented "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND.

  • Document ID:000020104
  • Creation Date: 09-Jul-2021
  • Modified Date:09-Jul-2021
    • SUSE Rancher

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