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Build kernel without CONFIG_SECURITY_SELINUX_DISABLE, disable writing to a selinuxfs node 'disable' and disable SELinux to be disabled at runtime prior to the policy load. Kernel build without CONFIG_SECURITY_SELINUX_DISABLE can use the '__ro_after_init' kernel hardening feature for security hooks.


Current status

  • Targeted release: Fedora 34
  • Last updated: 2020-08-19
  • FESCo issue: <will be assigned by the Wrangler>
  • Tracker bug: <will be assigned by the Wrangler>
  • Release notes tracker: <will be assigned by the Wrangler>

Detailed Description

CONFIG_SECURITY_SELINUX_DISABLE functionality was originally developed to make it easier for Linux distributions to support architectures where adding parameters to the kernel command line was difficult. Unfortunately, supporting runtime disable meant we had to make some security trade-offs when it came to the LSM hooks.

Marking the LSM hooks as read only provides some very nice security benefits, but it does mean that we can no longer disable SELinux at runtime. Toggling between enforcing and permissive mode while booted will remain unaffected and it will still be possible to disable SELinux by adding "selinux=0" to the kernel command line via the boot loader (GRUB).

System with SELINUX=disabled in /etc/selinux/config will come up with selinuxfs unmounted, userspace will think SELinux is disabled, but internally SELinux will be enabled with no policy so that there will be no SELinux checks applied.

NOTE: Runtime disable is considered as deprecated, and using it will become increasingly painful (e.g. sleeping/blocking) through future kernel releases until eventually it is removed completely. Current kernel reports the following message during runtime disable: "SELinux: Runtime disable is deprecated, use selinux=0 on the kernel cmdline"

Additional info:


Benefit to Fedora

Marking the LSM hooks as read only provides some very nice security benefits, e.g. in case an attacker gains ability to write to certain kernel memory regions, they have a bigger chance of using side effects of CONFIG_SECURITY_SELINUX_DISABLE to turn off SELinux permission checking.


  • Proposal owners:

Make sure kernel is built without CONFIG_SECURITY_SELINUX_DISABLE

  • Other developers: N/A (not a System Wide Change)
  • Policies and guidelines: N/A (not a System Wide Change)
  • Trademark approval: N/A (not needed for this Change)

Upgrade/compatibility impact

N/A (not a System Wide Change)

Users should not directly affected by this change.

How To Test

N/A (not a System Wide Change)

  1. Confirm that is disabled when selinux=0 is used on kernel command line
  2. Confirm that userspace consider SELinux disabled when SELINUX=disabled is used in /etc/selinux/config
  3. Confirm that system works as expected in both previous cases

User Experience

There's no visible change for users with SELinux enabled.

Users with SELINUX=disabled in /etc/selinux/config and without selinux=0 on kernel command line might notice that ps Z command uses 'kernel' domain for processes instead of '-'. These users will be also able to load SELinux policy after boot.


N/A (not a System Wide Change)

Contingency Plan

  • Contingency mechanism: (What to do? Who will do it?) N/A (not a System Wide Change)
  • Contingency deadline: N/A (not a System Wide Change)
  • Blocks release? N/A (not a System Wide Change), Yes/No
  • Blocks product? product


N/A (not a System Wide Change)

Release Notes