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Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2015 02:34:50 -0500
From: Rich Felker <>
Cc: Paul Pluzhnikov <>
Subject: Re: Fixing the glibc runtime linker

On Fri, Feb 20, 2015 at 06:30:41AM +0000, Tim Brown wrote:
> On Friday 20 February 2015 01:38:31 Paul Pluzhnikov wrote:
> > On Thu, Feb 19, 2015 at 2:19 PM, Tim Brown <> wrote:
> > > More often than not, the underlying issue is an empty element within the
> > > DT_RPATH header or equivalent. Sometimes it's not, but even in those
> > > cases, it is largely that one or more elements isn't qualifed (i.e. it
> > > doesn't start with /). The attached patch fixes this, by ignoring any
> > > elements of DT_RPATH, LD_LIBRARY_PATH that do not start with a /, and/or
> > > junking any use of dlopen where the filename is likewise unqualified.
> > > 
> > > Won't this break stuff?
> > 
> > FWIW, relative RPATHs are quite fundamental to our test execution
> > environment, and any patch that unconditionally ignores them would
> > have to be reverted in our tree.
> That's useful to know. Is that for setuid binaries or more generally? As I 
> noted, it would be dead easy only to use the part of the patch that rejects 
> them for the former only. Although as I said, that offers less protection. 
> Would that make the patch more consumable? Another option would be to have 
> something like /etc/suid-debug which could flag that an override is in 
> operation.

I don't see how you think this is a security issue at all. The RPATH
is _in the binary_ that you're running. It's not an input at runtime.
If relative paths are used (either ${ORIGIN}-relative or cwd-relative)
then the base (location of the executable file or working directory)
is an input, but the fact that they're being used is a matter of how
the binary was generated, not how it was invoked. Anyone can
intentionally make a binary that does unsafe things (e.g.
system(argv[1])) as suid. Limiting the usefulness of RPATH does not
seem to contribute to security, especially since RPATH is not used at
all by default and has to be manually setup, presumably by somebody
who knows what they're doing.


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