runuser - run a command with substitute user and group ID
runuser [options] -u user [[--] command [argument...]]
runuser [options] [-] [user [argument...]]
runuser can be used to run commands with a substitute user and group ID. If the option -u is not given, runuser falls back to su-compatible semantics and a shell is executed. The difference between the commands runuser and su is that runuser does not ask for a password (because it may be executed by the root user only) and it uses a different PAM configuration. The command runuser does not have to be installed with set-user-ID permissions.
If the PAM session is not required, then the recommended solution is to use the setpriv(1) command.
When called without arguments, runuser defaults to running an interactive shell as root.
For backward compatibility, runuser defaults to not changing the current directory and to setting only the environment variables HOME and SHELL (plus USER and LOGNAME if the target user is not root). This version of runuser uses PAM for session management.
Note that runuser in all cases use PAM (pam_getenvlist()) to do the final environment modification. Command-line options such as --login and --preserve-environment affect the environment before it is modified by PAM.
- -c, --command=command
- Pass command to the shell with the -c option.
- -f, --fast
- Pass -f to the shell, which may or may not be useful, depending on the shell.
- -g, --group=group
- The primary group to be used. This option is allowed for the root user only.
- -G, --supp-group=group
- Specify a supplementary group. This option is available to the root user only. The first specified supplementary group is also used as a primary group if the option --group is not specified.
- -, -l, --login
- Start the shell as a login shell with an environment similar to a real login:
- clears all the environment variables except for TERM and variables specified by --whitelist-environment
- initializes the environment variables HOME, SHELL, USER, LOGNAME, and PATH
- changes to the target user's home directory
- sets argv of the shell to '-' in order to make the shell a login shell
- -P, --pty
- Create a pseudo-terminal for the session. The independent terminal provides better security as the user does not share a terminal with the original session. This can be used to avoid TIOCSTI ioctl terminal injection and other security attacks against terminal file descriptors. The entire session can also be moved to the background (e.g., "runuser --pty -u username -- command &"). If the pseudo-terminal is enabled, then runuser works as a proxy between the sessions (copy stdin and stdout).
- This feature is mostly designed for interactive sessions. If the standard input is not a terminal, but for example a pipe (e.g., echo "date" | runuser --pty -u user), then the ECHO flag for the pseudo-terminal is disabled to avoid messy output.
- -m, -p, --preserve-environment
- Preserve the entire environment, i.e., do not set HOME, SHELL, USER or LOGNAME. The option is ignored if the option --login is specified.
- -s, --shell=shell
- Run the specified shell instead of the default. The shell to run is selected according to the following rules, in order:
- the shell specified with --shell
- the shell specified in the environment variable SHELL if the --preserve-environment option is used
- the shell listed in the passwd entry of the target user
- If the target user has a restricted shell (i.e., not listed in /etc/shells), then the --shell option and the SHELL environment variables are ignored unless the calling user is root.
- Same as -c, but do not create a new session. (Discouraged.)
- -w, --whitelist-environment=list
- Don't reset the environment variables specified in the comma-separated list when clearing the environment for --login. The whitelist is ignored for the environment variables HOME, SHELL, USER, LOGNAME, and PATH.
- -V, --version
- Display version information and exit.
- -h, --help
- Display help text and exit.
runuser reads the /etc/default/runuser and /etc/login.defs configuration files. The following configuration items are relevant for runuser:
The environment variable PATH may be different on systems where /bin and /sbin are merged into /usr; this variable is also affected by the --login command-line option and the PAM system setting (e.g., pam_env(8)).
runuser normally returns the exit status of the command it executed. If the command was killed by a signal, runuser returns the number of the signal plus 128.
Exit status generated by runuser itself:
- Generic error before executing the requested command
- The requested command could not be executed
- The requested command was not found
- default PAM configuration file
- PAM configuration file if --login is specified
- runuser specific logindef config file
- global logindef config file
This runuser command was derived from coreutils' su, which was based on an implementation by David MacKenzie, and the Fedora runuser command by Dan Walsh.
The runuser command is part of the util-linux package and is available from Linux Kernel Archive.