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Date: Fri, 15 May 2020 13:04:08 +0200
From: Mickaël Salaün <>
To: Kees Cook <>
Cc: Al Viro <>, Aleksa Sarai <>,
 Andy Lutomirski <>, Mimi Zohar <>,
 Stephen Smalley <>,
 Christian Heimes <>,
 Deven Bowers <>,
 Tetsuo Handa <>,
 John Johansen <>,
 Kentaro Takeda <>,
 "Lev R. Oshvang ." <>, Alexei Starovoitov
 <>, Daniel Borkmann <>,
 Eric Chiang <>, Florian Weimer <>,
 James Morris <>, Jan Kara <>,
 Jann Horn <>, Jonathan Corbet <>,
 Lakshmi Ramasubramanian <>,
 Matthew Garrett <>, Matthew Wilcox <>,
 Michael Kerrisk <>,
 Mickaël Salaün <>,
 Philippe Trébuchet <>,
 Scott Shell <>,
 Sean Christopherson <>,
 Shuah Khan <>, Steve Dower <>,
 Steve Grubb <>,
 Thibaut Sautereau <>,
 Vincent Strubel <>,
 linux-kernel <>,,,,
 LSM List <>,
 Linux FS Devel <>,
 Rich Felker <>
Subject: Re: How about just O_EXEC? (was Re: [PATCH v5 3/6] fs: Enable to
 enforce noexec mounts or file exec through O_MAYEXEC)

On 15/05/2020 10:01, Kees Cook wrote:
> On Thu, May 14, 2020 at 09:16:13PM +0200, Mickaël Salaün wrote:
>> On 14/05/2020 18:10, Stephen Smalley wrote:
>>> On Thu, May 14, 2020 at 11:45 AM Kees Cook <> wrote:
>>>> So, it looks like adding FMODE_EXEC into f_flags in do_open() is needed in
>>>> addition to injecting MAY_EXEC into acc_mode in do_open()? Hmmm
>>> Just do both in build_open_flags() and be done with it? Looks like he
>>> was already setting FMODE_EXEC in patch 1 so we just need to teach
>>> AppArmor/TOMOYO to check for it and perform file execute checking in
>>> that case if !current->in_execve?
>> I can postpone the file permission check for another series to make this
>> one simpler (i.e. mount noexec only). Because it depends on the sysctl
>> setting, it is OK to add this check later, if needed. In the meantime,
>> AppArmor and Tomoyo could be getting ready for this.
> So, after playing around with this series, investigating Stephen's
> comments, digging through the existing FMODE_EXEC uses, and spending a
> bit more time thinking about Lev and Aleksa's dislike of the sysctls, I've
> got a much more radically simplified solution that I think could work.

Not having a sysctl would mean that distros will probably have to patch
script interpreters to remove the use of O_MAYEXEC. Or distros would
have to exclude newer version of script interpreters because they
implement O_MAYEXEC. Or distros would have to patch their kernel to
implement themselves the sysctl knob I'm already providing. Sysadmins
may not control the kernel build nor the user space build, they control
the system configuration (some mount point options and some file
execution permissions) but I guess that a distro update breaking a
running system is not acceptable. Either way, unfortunately, I think it
doesn't help anyone to not have a controlling sysctl. The same apply for
access-control LSMs relying on a security policy which can be defined by

Your commits enforce file exec checks, which is a good thing from a
security point of view, but unfortunately that would requires distros to
update all the packages providing shared objects once the dynamic linker

> Maybe I've missed some earlier discussion that ruled this out, but I
> couldn't find it: let's just add O_EXEC and be done with it. It actually
> makes the execve() path more like openat2() and is much cleaner after
> a little refactoring. Here are the results, though I haven't emailed it
> yet since I still want to do some more testing:
> I look forward to flames! ;)

Like Florian said, O_EXEC is for execute-only (which obviously doesn't
work for scripts):
On the other hand, the semantic of O_MAYEXEC is complementary to other
O_* flags. It is inspired by the VM_MAYEXEC flag.

The O_EXEC flag is specified for open(2). openat2(2) is Linux-specific
and it is highly unlikely that new flags will be added to open(2) or
openat(2) because of compatibility issues.

FYI, musl implements O_EXEC on Linux with O_PATH:

However, the O_EXEC flag/semantic could be useful for the dynamic
linkers, i.e. to only be able to map files in an executable (and
read-only) way. If this is OK, then we may want to rename O_MAYEXEC to
something like O_INTERPRET. This way we could have two new flags for
sightly (but important) different use cases. The sysctl bitfield could
be extended to manage both of these flags.

Other than that, the other commits are interesting. I'm a bit worried
about the implication of the f_flags/f_mode change though.

>From a practical point of view, I'm also wondering how you intent to
submit this series on LKML without conflicting with the current
O_MAYEXEC series (versions, changes…). I would like you to keep the
warnings from my patches about other ways to execute/interpret code and
the threat model (patch 1/6 and 5/6).

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