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Status of SE Linux in Debian LCA 2009

This morning I gave a talk at the Security mini-conf of LCA about the status of SE Linux in Debian. Here is a summary of the issues I covered:

General Status

In Lenny (the new release of Debian that will come out in a month or two) SE Linux is working well. Considerably better than in Debian/Etch. There is an installation document on my documents blog [1], it’s very easy, only two scripts need to be run with no parameters to do most of the work (5 commands in total). There is more detail on installing SE Linux in Lenny (and other issues) in the Debian Wiki [2].

The default configuration of SE Linux is “targeted”. Previously we had separate policy packages for “targeted” and “strict”, now they are configuration options for selinux-policy-default. It is also possible to have some users in the unconfined_t domain (like the “targeted” policy) and some in confined domains such as user_t. Changing to strict can be done one user at a time, this needs further documentation.


I maintain an APT repository of i386 and AMD64 packages for better SE Linux support. This includes libraries built to not need an executable stack (see my previous blog post for details [3]). It also includes i386 libraries that don’t need text relocations AKA execmod (see my blog post about why i386 must die for details [4]).

My Lenny repository includes policy packages before they appear in Testing as well as the packages that are modified to fix the execmod and executable stacks issues. I plan to maintain this repository for some time, at least as long as I am actively using Lenny, but the content will change.

I might back-port the newer upstream policy to Lenny at some later date. If I do this it will be near the time that Lenny+1 is released and I will put it in a different location to my current Lenny repository.

I am currently deciding what to do with packages from external repositories such as debian-multimedia (see my previous post for the background) [5]. I may have to create a separate repository for non-standard Debian packages which I then modify to better support SE Linux.

I also plan to build packages of Security Enhanced PostgreSQL [7] for Lenny and Lenny+1. After demonstrating it’s capabilities I will suggest that it be considered for Lenny+1.

Play Machine

I have been running a Play Machine (open root machine) [6] for most of the last seven years. In the near future (probably the week after LCA) I will upgrade it to Lenny. One thing that I didn’t mention is the fact that I plan to demonstrate other things such as SE-PostgreSQL in Play Machines.


I have a Xen server that is used for my Play Machine, I will run it as a SE Linux training machine and grant temporary ownership of a DomU to anyone who wants to learn and have a document with a list of tasks to complete to learn about SE Linux. I might be able to get it online this week. If so then I’ll make it available first to LCA delegates.

I will also set up a Bittorrent server for a Xen image for anyone who wants to go through the same SE Linux training program on their own machine – this will allow them a greater time limit and also avoid contention for my server. Unfortunately I have some problems with BitTorrent, I would appreciate any advice about running a torrent tracker.

Post Lenny

SE PostgreSQL is an exciting new development that I want to get in Debian. Initially I will create my own APT repository for it and include it in my Lenny repository. Hopefully it will become a standard feature in Lenny+1.

Security Enhanced X (the X window access controls) is a significant security feature. I hope to have that in Lenny+1, but it might not be possible.

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