I just discovered this page of Elizabeth Stinson
explaining the the differences between UID, EUID, SUId and FSUID and how they take effect for Linux, BSD, Solaris, and other Unices. Great document!

As backup her page is cited here:

SETUID syscall: modifies userIDs

Access control in Unix systems: based on a process's userIDs

Each process has a set of userIDs and groupIDs
 -- these userIDs and groupIDs determine which resources [files, network
    ports, ...] that process can access

 -- the privileged userIDs and groupIDs allow a process to access
    restricted system resources

userID == 0 --> ROOT; process can access all system resources

In some apps, a user process needs extra privileges; e.g. permission to
read or change the password file

"principle of least privilege" == process should DROP those extra privs, ASAP

UID-setting syscalls: offered by UNIX systems; used by a process to raise
& drop its privilege level; poorly designed, not well documented

 - each user has a unique UID
 - UID determines which resources a user can access

Each process has 3 UIDs:
(1) real UID: identifies process OWNER
(2) effective UID: used in access control decisions
(3) saved user ID: stores a previous UID so that it can be restored later

Each process has 3 groupIDs:
(1) real GID
(2) effective GID
(3) saved GID

In Linux, each process *also* has:
--used for access control to the file system
--FSUID usually follows effective UID unless it's explicitly set by the
setfsuid syscall
--FSGID usually follows effective GID unless explicitly set by setfsgid()

When a process is created by FORK, the created process inherits its
parent's UIDs

When a process executes a NEW FILE via EXEC, that executing process keeps
ITS OWN UIDs unless the SETUID in the new file is set.
 -- if the SETUID bit is set in the file we're EXECing, then
    --> process's EUID == file owner's UID
    --> process's SUID == file owner's UID

To drop privilege temporarily, a process will remove the privileged UID
from its EUID but keep it saved as its saved UID (SUID); later the process
can restore the privileges by setting its EUID to its SUID. To drop
privileges permanently a process removes the privileged UID from all three
of its UIDs; thereafter the process cannot restore that privileged access

Bell Labs patented Dennis Ritchie's idea to have a bit to indicate whether
when a file is executed that file should be executed with the privileges
of its owner (normal) or THE INVOKER (setuid bit == 1 for latter case).

Early UNIX: a process had 2 UIDs, RUID & EUID
--Only one syscall, SETUID:

       if (EUID == 0)
	  RUID = ;
          EUID = ;

          EUID = ;

Problem: no way to temporarily drop root privileges only to restore them later

         /  \
        /    \
    Sys V    BSD

System V: added SUID and SETUEID syscall

           if (EUID == 0)
	      EUID can be set to any value;
              EUID can be set to RUID or SUID ONLY

SETUID was modified:
           if (EUID != 0)
	      EUID can be set;
	      EUID = ;
              RUID = ;
              SUID = ;

Sys V: so if you're not root, you can use SETUID to set EUID and you can
use SETEUID to set EUID = RUID or EUID = SUID; if you ARE root, you can
use SETUID to set EUID, SUID, RUID and you can use SETEUID to set EUID to

BSD: dropped SETUID, created SETREUID

SETREUID:   if (EUID == 0)
	       RUID = anyUID;
	       EUID = anyUID;
               RUID = EUID; OR
	       EUID = RUID;

POSIX: SETUID can set all three UIDs whether you're root or not

 -- to call this function, the EUID of the calling process must be ROOT OR
 -- each of the 3 params must equal one of the process's 3 UIDs
 -- all or nothing effect;
 -- FreeBSD & Linux offer SETRESUID; Solaris does not;

SOLARIS:  through /proc FS any process can examine its 3 UIDs and a
superuser process can set any of those UIDs;

--sets EUID; doesn't touch RUID or SUID
--Among UNIX systems, if the current EUID != ROOT
  (a) Solaris, Linux
      newEUID can equal EUID, RUID, or SUID
  (b) FreeBSD
      newEUID can equal RUID or SUID

--modifies RUID and EUID and in some cases SUID
(a) Solaris & Linux: a process can swap RUID & EUID
(b) FreeBSD: a process can't switch RUID & EUID

(a) Linux & Solaris: newUID must equal RUID or SUID (if EUID != 0)
(b) FreeBSD: newUID may equal EUID, too

The action of SETUID depends on whether th process is privileged or not
(a) Linux & Solaris:
    if (EUID == 0)
       setuid(newID) sets RUID = newUID;
			  EUID = newUID;
			  SUID = newUID;

       setuid(newUID) sets EUID = newUID;

(b) FreeBSD:

    setuid(newID) sets RUID = EUID = SUID = newID regardless of whether
    current EUID is 0 or not

--FSUID used for access control to the FS
--FSUID == EUID unless FSUID explicitly set
--tries to maintian invariant: FSUID = 0 only if RUID, SUID, OR EUID == 0
--if change EUID, that changed val will be propagated to FSUID

Buggy tho; while every setuid & setreuid sets FSUID to EUID, if call
setresuid and *don't change* EUID, then setresuid will NOT set FSUID = EUID

E.g. RUID = EUID = SUID = 0; FSUID = 0;

setresuid(x,x,-1)	RUID = EUID = FSUID = x; SUID = 0;
setfsuid(0)             RUID = EUID = x; SUID = FSUID = 0;
setresuid(-1,-1,x)	RUID = EUID = SUID = x; FSUID = 0;

 --> INVARIANT violated

(passing -1 as value means don't change this UID)

SETGID & relatives: 

 permissions check for setregid != permissions check for setreuid

 (in Solaris)

Privileges carried by EUID... so having EGID == 0 doesn't buy you anything
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7 Responses to “UID, EUID, SUID, FSUID”

  1. shiva Says:

    i want a function for calculating the number of page faults using euid in linux

  2. Daemonio Says:

    I would like to know if you have the file setuid.txt from stinson’s website. It seems the website was shut down.

  3. israguide Says:

    where he is producing educational
    media aimed

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