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Postfix and chroot

I have written a script named postfix-nochroot to disable the chroot functionality of Postfix. I plan to initially include this in the selinux-basics package in Debian, but if the script was adopted by the Postfix package or some other package that seems more appropriate then I would remove it from selinux-basics.

The reason for disabling chroot is that when running SE Linux the actions of the various Postfix processes are restricted greatly, such that granting chroot access would increase the privileges. Another issue is the creation of the chroot environment, the Postfix package in Debian will recreate the files needed for the chroot under /var/spool/postfix when it is started. The first problem with this is that when a package is ugraded the chroot environment won’t be upgraded (with the exceptions of some packages that have special code to restart Postfix) and when the sys-admin edits files under /etc those changes won’t be mirrored in the chroot environment either.

The real problem when running SE Linux is that it requires extra privileges to be granted to the Postfix processes (to be able to call chroot()). While the SE Linux policy places much greater restrictions on the actions of daemons than a chroot would. For example a non-chrooted daemon process running with SE Linux will not be able to see most processes in ps output (it will be able to see that processes exist through entries under /proc, but without the ability to search the subdirectories of /proc related to other processes it won’t be able to see what they are).

It would be possible for my script to be used as the first step towards making a Postfix installation automatically use a chroot when SE Linux is disabled or in permissive mode, and not use a chroot when SE Linux is in enforcing mode. I’ve probably done about half the work that is needed if this was the end goal, but I have no great interest in such configuration and no time to work on it. I would be prepared to accept patches from other people who want to go in this direction.

2 comments to Postfix and chroot

  • Scott Kitterman

    Lamont and I were just talking about such a script last night. I’m working on adding some helper scripts to the Postfix package and that was on my list, so I’d expect Lamont would be glad to get it and I’m certainly glad not to have to write it.

  • etbe

    Scott: I’ve just email’d the script and it’s man page to you and LaMont. I think it would be ideal if you could include it in the Postfix package and apply to get it included in Lenny.