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Date: Fri, 13 Mar 2015 12:43:45 -0700
From: Nick Kralevich <>
Subject: Re: Vendor adoption of PIE INFO#934476 oss-security

On Fri, Mar 13, 2015 at 10:19 AM, Daniel Micay <> wrote:
> On 13/03/15 11:05 AM, Solar Designer wrote:
>> On Thu, Mar 12, 2015 at 08:31:42PM -0700, Nick Kralevich wrote:
>>> I wanted to provide a followup on this year-old thread.
>> Thank you!
>>> With the release of Android 5.0, Android has removed support for
>>> non-PIE binaries [1] [2]. Attempting to run a non-PIE binary will
>>> generate an error on Android. In this way, we ensure that all binaries
>>> take full advantage of Android's ASLR implementation.
>>> This is just one of the many security enhancements added in Android
>>> 5.*, and one that I hope other Linux distributions will pick up.
>>> [1]
>>> [2]
> Sadly, PIE is much less useful on Android right now. Every app and many
> services are spawned from an initial zygote process without an exec, so
> nearly everything has the same ASLR bases. It is great to see progress
> in this space though. I hope to see the zygote process go away now that
> ART and modern hardware makes it much less necessary - especially if a
> process (or a pool) is pre-spawned during idle time.
> AFAIK, the change forbidding non-PIE binaries was backed out for the
> official 5.0 release
> (
> I guess that was fixed in 5.1? I haven't looked into it yet.

You are getting the dates of your patches out of order. There were
three patches submitted in the following order:

2014-05-08: Remove support for non-PIE executables

2014-06-19: Reenable support for non-PIE executables

2014-07-03: Revert "Reenable support for non-PIE executables"

The last patch is definitely in Android 5.0, and was never backed out.

  ~/aosp/bionic/linker$ git tag --contains

>> I brought this to Twitter, and here's a comment by Rich Felker:
>> <solardiz> Android 5.0 "has removed support for non-PIE binaries. Attempting to run a non-PIE binary will generate an error"
>> <@RichFelker> @solardiz Guess that means no emacs on Android...
>> <@solardiz> @RichFelker Why, can't one build Emacs as PIE?
>> <@RichFelker> @solardiz The whole dumper issue. The final emacs binary is a dump of an emacs with a lisp heap full of pointers and no relocation data.
> FWIW, I think various distributions are going to enable it once the PIE
> by default patches land:
> There has been no luck getting someone to review them, so they missed
> the GCC 5 freeze deadline despite being ready before then.
> I proposed that we enable it by default on Arch via wrapper scripts, but
> it was rejected in favour of waiting for this patch to land. An OpenSUSE
> developer also voiced interest in the patches on the GCC mailing list.
> It just needs a committer who feels like reviewing it.

Nick Kralevich | Android Security | | 650.214.4037

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