SElinux and its own error code?

Jeffrey Walton noloader at
Sun May 3 03:59:22 EDT 2020

On Sun, May 3, 2020 at 3:50 AM Valdis Klētnieks <valdis.kletnieks at> wrote:
> On Sat, 02 May 2020 23:55:02 -0400, Jeffrey Walton said:
> > I lost about four hours chasing inaccurate messages from Apache. It
> > turns out SElinux was denying access, so the EPERM was not really
> > accurate. But Apache saw EPERM or EACCESS and logged a message related
> > to Posix permissions.
> No, you had a permission problem. It isn't strictly confined to only Posix
> permissions. Note that if you use ACLs, you'll also get an EPERM if you don't
> have access.
> > As far as I know Posix does not authorize use of EPERM or EACCESS for
> > SElinux. That is, SElinux should not be hijacking the error code.
> And where exactly does Posix say that EPERM is *only* for permission issues
> with the user/group/world bits? (Hint:  you can get EPERM for a program that
> creates a socket and then tries to bind to the broadcast address for the interface,
> or if iptables rejected the request).

The error codes Posix provides are in the context of of its permission

> > I'm wondering why there is no error message for SElinux that would
> > allow application to return a specific error when SElinux denies
> > access to an object or operation.
> And why would that be useful? What could a program do differently
> for a SELinux permission error than a Posix permission error?

I could get a useful error message and work on the problem, instead of
wasting hours going down rabbit holes.

> If the problem is that you don't know about the SELinux error messages,
> you should be learning about the auditd subsystem, setroubleshootd,
> sealert, and friends.
> > Why does SElinux not have its own error code?
> Among other things, it means that programs potentially have to have
> special-casing in the error handlers, which are *already* code that doesn't
> get fully tested in most cases.

Why is that a bad thing?

SElinux is an addon. I have no problem checking for seerrno or ESEPERM
for its specific errors.


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