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Gmane
From: Arjan van de Ven <arjan <at> linux.intel.com>
Subject: [Moblin Dev] Moblin 2.0 to be the first production distribution to ship a more secure, unprivileged X server
Newsgroups: gmane.comp.handhelds.moblin.devel
Date: Wednesday 8th July 2009 15:03:04 UTC (over 7 years ago)
As first feature of the "Moblin Secure X project" (a project with the aim
of
improving the security of the graphics stack) the Moblin project has
integrated the NRX technology. NRX is a set of OS changes and patches that
makes it possible to no longer run the X server as the privileged "root"
user.

In Linux, the X server is traditionally run with root privileges (via the
setuid-bit mechanism); this has been historically required because the X
server talked directly to the graphics hardware. The root user has
unlimited
permissions in Linux, including the permission to add code the running
kernel, read and write all files, etc. The X server is a large chunk of
code,
quite a bit of it dating from 20 years back, that is constantly
communicating
with less privileged applications. Running the X server with unlimited
permissions is a security risk; with this, any security hole in the X
server
immediately gives an attacker full system access.

With a modern graphics stack (using Kernel Mode Setting, the Graphics
Execution Manager etc), the X server no longer has a fundamental
requirement
to directly talk to the graphics hardware. The Intel graphics team has
spent
time the last few weeks to sort out a few remaining issues, and now we can
announce that the upcoming Moblin 2.0 distribution will be the first Linux
distribution that will ship with an X server that runs with the same
privileges as the logged in user, rather than as the security sensitive
root
user.

This is a good step for the security of the Linux desktop, and is made
possible due to the major re-architecting that the Linux graphics stack has
undergone the last two years with the hard work from the various X
community
members, including employees from Intel and Red Hat.

The Moblin Secure X project is also working on other technologies to
further
improve the security of the Moblin graphics software stack.



Arjan van de Ven
Moblin Architect - Open Source Technology Center
Intel Corporation
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