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Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2018 02:09:28 -0400
From: Rich Felker <>
Cc: Tavis Ormandy <>,
	Bob Friesenhahn <>
Subject: Re: ghostscript: bypassing executeonly to escape
 -dSAFER sandbox (CVE-2018-17961)

On Wed, Oct 10, 2018 at 03:26:05PM -0400, Perry E. Metzger wrote:
> On Tue, 9 Oct 2018 15:32:02 -0700 Tavis Ormandy <>
> wrote:
> > On Tue, Oct 9, 2018 at 3:27 PM Perry E. Metzger
> > <> wrote:
> > 
> > > I keep wondering if there isn't a way to fully remove the
> > > dangerous bits from a postscript interpreter so it can _only_ be
> > > used to view the document and literally has no file system access
> > > compiled in at all, so there's no way to touch the fs etc.
> > > regardless of what flags the interpreter is invoked with.
> > >
> > > (I, too, find removing the ability to look at historical
> > > postscript documents a bit more draconian than I like.)
> > >
> > >  
> > I've discussed it with upstream, it's a hard no because they feel
> > it would make ghostscript non-conforming (i.e. non-conforming with
> > the Adobe PostScript Language Reference Manual)
> > 
> > We probably have similar thoughts on this, but that is the final
> > word from upstream.
> They wouldn't even support a compilation mode where if you #define
> the right thing those syscalls are cut out?
> I don't care much about upstream's desires on this if they oppose
> that. I'd be happy to have patches that simply cut out the dangerous
> syscalls entirely. It's open source, that should be feasible.

This. It's utterly ridiculous that the interpreter even has bindings
for accessing the filesystem and such. But I wonder if some of its
library routines (e.g. font loading) are implemented in Postscript,
using these bindings, rather than being implemented in C outside of
the language interpreter. If so it might be harder to extricate. But I
still think it's worthwhile to try. Once there are patches I would
expect all reasonable distros to start shipping with them, and if
upstream tries to make it hard, I would expect one of the big distros
to just fork and abandon upstream.


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