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# Linux Sandboxing
Chromium uses a multiprocess model, which allows to give different privileges
and restrictions to different parts of the browser. For instance, we want
renderers to run with a limited set of privileges since they process untrusted
input and are likely to be compromised. Renderers will use an IPC mechanism to
request access to resource from a more privileged (browser process).
You can find more about this general design
We use different sandboxing techniques on Linux and Chrome OS, in combination,
to achieve a good level of sandboxing. You can see which sandboxes are currently
engaged by looking at chrome://sandbox (renderer processes) and chrome://gpu
(gpu process).
We have a two layers approach:
* Layer-1 (also called the "semantics" layer) prevents access to most
resources from a process where it's engaged. The setuid sandbox is used for
* Layer-2 (also called "attack surface reduction" layer) restricts access from
a process to the attack surface of the kernel. Seccomp-BPF is used for this.
You can disable all sandboxing (for testing) with `--no-sandbox`.
## Layered approach
One notable difficulty with `seccomp-bpf` is that filtering at the system call
interface provides difficult to understand semantics. One crucial aspect is that
if a process A runs under `seccomp-bpf`, we need to guarantee that it cannot
affect the integrity of process B running under a different `seccomp-bpf` policy
(which would be a sandbox escape). Besides the obvious system calls such as
`ptrace()` or `process_vm_writev()`, there are multiple subtle issues, such as
using `open()` on `/proc` entries.
Our layer-1 guarantees the integrity of processes running under different
`seccomp-bpf` policies. In addition, it allows restricting access to the
network, something that is difficult to perform at the layer-2.
## Sandbox types summary
| **Name** | **Layer and process** | **Linux flavors where available** | **State** |
| [Setuid sandbox](#The-setuid-sandbox) | Layer-1 in Zygote processes (renderers, PPAPI, [NaCl](, some utility processes) | Linux distributions and Chrome OS | Enabled by default (old kernels) and maintained |
| [User namespaces sandbox](#User-namespaces-sandbox) | Modern alternative to the setuid sandbox. Layer-1 in Zygote processes (renderers, PPAPI, [NaCl](, some utility processes) | Linux distributions and Chrome OS (kernel >= 3.8) | Enabled by default (modern kernels) and actively developed |
| [Seccomp-BPF](#The-sandbox-1) | Layer-2 in some Zygote processes (renderers, PPAPI, [NaCl](, Layer-1 + Layer-2 in GPU process | Linux kernel >= 3.5, Chrome OS and Ubuntu | Enabled by default and actively developed |
| [Seccomp-legacy](#The-sandbox-2) | Layer-2 in renderers | All | [Deprecated]( |
| [SELinux](#SELinux) | Layer-1 in Zygote processes (renderers, PPAPI) | SELinux distributions | [Deprecated]( |
| AppArmor | Outer layer-1 in Zygote processes (renderers, PPAPI) | Not used | Deprecated |
## The setuid sandbox
Also called SUID sandbox, our main layer-1 sandbox.
A SUID binary that will create a new network and PID namespace, as well as
`chroot()` the process to an empty directory on request.
To disable it, use `--disable-setuid-sandbox`. (Do not remove the binary or
unset `CHROME_DEVEL_SANDBOX`, it is not supported).
Main page: [LinuxSUIDSandbox](
## User namespaces sandbox
The namespace sandbox
[aims to replace the setuid sandbox]( It has the
advantage of not requiring a setuid binary. It's based on (unprivileged)
[user namespaces]( in the Linux kernel. It
generally requires a kernel >= 3.10, although it may work with 3.8 if certain
patches are backported.
Starting with M-43, if the kernel supports it, unprivileged namespaces are used
instead of the setuid sandbox. Starting with M-44, certain processes run
[in their own PID namespace](, which isolates them
## The `seccomp-bpf` sandbox
Also called `seccomp-filters` sandbox.
Our main layer-2 sandbox, designed to shelter the kernel from malicious code
executing in userland.
Also used as layer-1 in the GPU process. A
[BPF]( compiler will compile a
process-specific program to filter system calls and send it to the kernel. The
kernel will interpret this program for each system call and allow or disallow
the call.
To help with sandboxing of existing code, the kernel can also synchronously
raise a `SIGSYS` signal. This allows user-land to perform actions such as "log
and return errno", emulate the system call or broker-out the system call
(perform a remote system call via IPC). Implementing this requires a low-level
async-signal safe IPC facility.
`seccomp-bpf` is supported since Linux 3.5, but is also back-ported on Ubuntu
12.04 and is always available on Chrome OS. See
[this page]( for more information.
[this blog post](
announcing Chrome support. Or
[this one](
for a more technical overview.
This sandbox can be disabled with `--disable-seccomp-filter-sandbox`.
## The `seccomp` sandbox
Also called `seccomp-legacy`. An obsolete layer-1 sandbox, then available as an
optional layer-2 sandbox.
Deprecated by seccomp-bpf and removed from the Chromium code base. It still
exists as a separate project [here](
## SELinux
Was designed to be used instead of the SUID sandbox.
Old information for archival purposes:
One can build Chromium with `selinux=1` and the Zygote (which starts the
renderers and PPAPI processes) will do a dynamic transition. audit2allow will
quickly build a usable module.
Available since
more information in
[this blog post]( (grep
for 'dynamic' since dynamic transitions are a little obscure in SELinux)
## Developing and debugging with sandboxing
Sandboxing can make developing harder, see:
* [this page]( for the `setuid` sandbox
* [this page](
for triggering crashes
* [this page for debugging tricks](
## See also
* [LinuxSandboxIPC](
* [How Chromium's Linux sandbox affects Native Client](