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authbind - bind sockets to privileged ports without root


authbind [options] program [argument ...]


authbind allows a program which does not or should not run as root to bind to low-numbered
ports in a controlled way.

You must invoke the program using authbind. authbind will set up some environment
variables, including an LD_PRELOAD, which will allow the program (including any
subprocesses it may run) to bind to low-numbered (<512) ports if the system is configured
to allow this.


--deep Normally, authbind arranges for only the program which it directly invokes to be
affected by its special version of bind(2). If you specify --deep then all
programs which that program invokes directly or indirectly will be affected, so
long as they do not unset the environment variables set up by authbind.

--depth levels
Causes authbind to affect programs which are levels deep in the calling graph. The
default is --depth 1.


Access to low numbered ports is controlled by permissions and contents of files in a
configuration area, /etc/authbind.

Firstly, /etc/authbind/byport/port is tested. If this file is accessible for execution to
the calling user, according to access(2), then binding to the port is authorised. If the
file can be seen not to exist (the existence check returns ENOENT) then further tests will
be used to find authorisation; otherwise, binding is not authorised, and the bind call
will return with the errno value from the access(2) call, usually EACCES (Permission

Secondly, if that test fails to resolve the matter, /etc/authbind/byaddr/addr,port (any
protocol) or failing that /etc/authbind/byaddr/addr:port (IPv4 only) is tested, in the
same manner as above. Here addr is as from inet_ntop, and port is the (local) TCP or UDP
port number, expressed as an unsigned integer in the minimal non-zero number of digits.

Thirdly, for IPv6 only: since the textual representation from inet_ntop is complicated to
predict, a variant of addr is also tested which does not use the double colon
abbreviation: each 16-byte chunk expressed in the minimal nonzero number of hex digits
(i.e. with leading zeroes removed), the chunks being separated by colons as is

Fourthly, if the question is still unresolved, the file /etc/authbind/byuid/uid will be
opened and read. If the file does not exist then the binding is not authorised and bind
will return EPERM (Operation not permitted, or Not owner). If the file does exist it will
be searched for a line of the form
matching the request. The first form requires that the address lies in the relevant range
(inclusive at both ends). The second and third forms require that the initial length bits
of addr match those in the proposed bind call. The third form is only available for IPv4
since IPv6 addresses contain colons. Addresses in the byuid file can be in any form
acceptable to inet_pton. In all cases the proposed port number must lie is in the
inclusive range specified. If such a line is found then the binding is authorised.
Otherwise it is not, and bind will fail with ENOENT (No such file or directory).

If a read error occurs, or the directory /etc/authbind cannot be accessed, then not only
will bind fail, but an error message will be printed to stderr. Unrecognised lines in
/etc/authbind/byuid/uid files are silently ignored, as are lines whose addr has non-zero
bits more than length from the top or where some min is larger than max.


So for example an attempt by uid 432 to bind to port 80 of address
[2620:106:e002:f00f::21] would result in authbind calling access(2) on, in order,
If none of these files exist, authbind will read
and search for a line to permit the relevant access; examples of lines which would do so

PORTS 512-1023

Authorising binding to ports from 512 to 1023 inclusive is not recommended. Some
protocols (including some versions of NFS) authorise clients by seeing that they are using
a port number in this range. So by authorising a program to be a server for such a port,
you are also authorising it to impersonate the whole host for those protocols.

To make sure that this isn't done by accident, if the port number requested is in the
range 512-1023, authbind will expect the permission files to have an additional ! at the
start of their leafname.


The shared library loaded using LD_PRELOAD overrides the bind(2) system call. When a
program invoked via authbind calls bind to bind a socket to a low-numbered TCP/IP port,
and if the program doesn't already have an effective uid of 0, the version of bind
supposed by authbind forks and executes a setuid-root helper program. For non-TCP/IP
sockets, high-numbered ports, or programs which are already root, authbind passes the call
to the original bind(2) system call, which is found using dlsym(3) with the handle


Usually the normal C error handling mechanisms apply. If authbind cannot find the program
it has been asked to execute it will print a message to stderr and exit with code 255.

The helper program usually reports back to the shared library with an exit status
containing an errno value which encodes whether the bind was permitted and successful.
This will be returned to the calling program in the usual way.

In the case of apparent configuration or other serious errors the library and/or the
helper program may cause messages to be printed to the program's stderr, was well as
returning -1 from bind.

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