setuid - set user identity
setuid() sets the effective user ID of the calling process. If the calling process is privileged (more precisely: if the process has the CAP_SETUID capability in its user namespace), the real UID and saved set-user-ID are also set.
Under Linux, setuid() is implemented like the POSIX version with the _POSIX_SAVED_IDS feature. This allows a set-user-ID (other than root) program to drop all of its user privileges, do some un-privileged work, and then reengage the original effective user ID in a secure manner.
If the user is root or the program is set-user-ID-root, special care
must be taken: setuid() checks the effective user ID of
the caller and if it is the superuser, all process-related user ID's are
uid. After this has occurred, it is impossible for the
program to regain root privileges.
Thus, a set-user-ID-root program wishing to temporarily drop root privileges, assume the identity of an unprivileged user, and then regain root privileges afterward cannot use setuid(). You can accomplish this with seteuid(2).
The call would change the caller's real UID (i.e.,
not match the caller's real UID), but there was a temporary failure
allocating the necessary kernel data structures.
uid does not match the real user ID of the caller and this
call would bring the number of processes belonging to the real user ID
uid over the caller's RLIMIT_NPROC resource
limit. Since Linux 3.1, this error case no longer occurs (but robust
applications should check for this error); see the description of
EAGAIN in execve(2).
The user ID specified in
uid is not valid in this user
The user is not privileged (Linux: does not have the
CAP_SETUID capability in its user namespace) and
uid does not match the real UID or saved set-user-ID of the
POSIX.1-2001, POSIX.1-2008, SVr4. Not quite compatible with the 4.4BSD call, which sets all of the real, saved, and effective user IDs.
uid is different from the old effective UID, the process
will be forbidden from leaving core dumps.
The original Linux setuid() system call supported only 16-bit user IDs. Subsequently, Linux 2.4 added setuid32() supporting 32-bit IDs. The glibc setuid() wrapper function transparently deals with the variation across kernel versions.
At the kernel level, user IDs and group IDs are a per-thread attribute. However, POSIX requires that all threads in a process share the same credentials. The NPTL threading implementation handles the POSIX requirements by providing wrapper functions for the various system calls that change process UIDs and GIDs. These wrapper functions (including the one for setuid()) employ a signal-based technique to ensure that when one thread changes credentials, all of the other threads in the process also change their credentials. For details, see nptl(7).
This page is part of release 5.10 of the Linux
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