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hostfs is a virtual filesystem which provides access to the host filesystems. It turns vfs calls into the equivalent system calls on the host.
It is mounted inside the virtual machine just as any other virtual filesystem is. If a directory is specified with the -o option to mount, that directory is mounted. Otherwise, the whole host root filesystem is mounted. Note that mounting a host directory and accessing it as root inside UML does not provide root access to those files. If UML is running as a normal user, file accesses through hostfs are done with the permissions of that user.