SE Linux Status in Debian 2012-01

Since my last SE Linux in Debian status report [1] there have been some significant changes.


Last year I reported that the policy wasn’t very usable, on the 18th of January I uploaded version 2:2.20110726-2 of the policy packages that fixes many bugs. The policy should now be usable by most people for desktop operations and as a server. Part of the delay was that I wanted to include support for systemd, but as my work on systemd proceeded slowly and others didn’t contribute policy I could use I gave up and just released it. Systemd is still a priority for me and I plan to use it on all my systems when Wheezy is released.


Some time between Debian kernel 3.0.0-2 and 3.1.0-1 support for an upstream change to the security module configuration was incorporated. Instead of using selinux=1 on the kernel command line to enable SE Linux support the kernel option is security=selinux. This change allows people to boot with security=tomoyo or security=apparmor if they wish. No support for Smack though.

As the kernel silently ignores command line parameters that it doesn’t understand so there is no harm in having both selinux=1 and security=selinux on both older and newer kernels. So version 0.5.0 of selinux-basics now adds both kernel command-line options to GRUB configuration when selinux-activate is run. Also when the package is upgraded it will search for selinux=1 in the GRUB configuration and if it’s there it will add security=selinux. This will give users the functionality that they expect, systems which have SE Linux activated will keep running SE Linux after a kernel upgrade or downgrade! Prior to updating selinux-basics systems running Debian/Unstable won’t work with SE Linux.

As an aside the postinst file for selinux-basics was last changed in 2006 (thanks Erich Schubert). This package is part of the new design of SE Linux in Debian and some bits of it haven’t needed to be changed for 6 years! SE Linux isn’t a new thing, it’s been in production for a long time.


While the audit daemon isn’t strictly a part of SE Linux (each can be used without the other) it seems that most of the time they are used together (in Debian at least). I have prepared a NMU of the new upstream version of audit and uploaded it to delayed/7. I want to get everything related to SE Linux up to date or at least with comparable versions to Fedora. Also I sent some of the Debian patches for the auditd upstream which should reduce the maintenance effort in future.


There have been some NMUs of libraries that are part of SE Linux. Due to a combination of having confidence in the people doing the NMUs and not having much spare time I have let them go through without review. I’m sure that I will notice soon enough if they don’t work, my test systems exercise enough SE Linux functionality that it would be difficult to break things without me noticing.

Play Machine

I am now preparing a new SE Linux “Play Machine” running Debian/Unstable. I wore my Play Machine shirt at LCA so I’ve got to get one going again soon. This is a good exercise of the strict features of SE Linux policy, I’ve found some bugs which need to be fixed. Running Play Machines really helps improve the overall quality of SE Linux.

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