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Date: Sat, 22 Nov 2014 11:36:58 -0800
From: Russ Allbery <>
To: Marc Chadwick <>
Cc:,  Tim Brown <>
Subject: Re: Running Java across a privilege boundry

Marc Chadwick <> writes:

> I thought tomcat 6 used authbind in its init script, but I could be
> wrong.  If that's the case, authbind is written in C, so I'm not sure
> that's what Tim has in mind. Similarly, jsvc is written in C. Maybe the
> tabuki wrapper service?

Ah, I see what you're getting at.  I don't think I've ever used authbind
with Tomcat (no need -- I never use privileged ports with it), but (since
I use Debian) it gets spawned through start-stop-daemon, which is also
written in C.  You're saying that the running of the Java program has to
be done *directly* by sudo for some reason?

The initial question was a little obscure to me.  I'm not sure what
security problem the original poster is worried about.  Starting Tomcat
via sudo with that init script is indeed crossing a privilege boundary to
run a Java program, but there are several layers of indirection there.

Anyway, I have certainly worked with systems with command-line utilities
written directly in Java that are run via sudo or other similar tools.
The one that comes to mind (Zimbra) isn't open source, but I'm sure there
are plenty of others.

Russ Allbery (              <>

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