Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.3 is broken!

At least kernel-3.10.0-514.26.2.el7.x86_64.rpm is broken. With it, you will not be able to use a stack size lower than ~4.5MB.

Here’s some reading on why your applications would want to do this:

Here’s an excerpt:

Why do we care?

Security in depth.

First, people make mistakes. Setting reasonable limits keeps a runaway process from taking down the system.

Second, attackers will take advantage of any opportunity they can find. A buffer overflow isn’t an abstract concern – they are real and often allow an attacker to execute arbitrary code. Reasonable limits may be enough to sharply curtail the damage caused by an exploit.

Here are some concrete examples:

First, setting RLIMIT_NPROC to zero means that the process cannot fork/exec a new process – an attacker cannot execute arbitrary code as the current user. (Note: the man pages suggests this may limit the total number of processes for the user, not just in this process and its children. This should be double-checked.) It also prevents a more subtle attack where a process is repeatedly forked until a desired PID is acquired. PIDs should be unique but apparently some kernels now support a larger PID space than the traditional pid_t. That means legacy system calls may be ambiguous.

Second, setting RLIMIT_ASRLIMIT_DATA, and RLIMIT_MEMLOCK to reasonable values prevents a process from forcing the system to thrash by limiting available memory.

Third, setting RLIMIT_CORE to a reasonable value (or disabling core dumps entirely) has historically been used to prevent denial of service attacks by filling the disk with core dumps. Today core dumps are often disabled to ensure sensitive information such as encryption keys are not inadvertently written to disk where an attacker can later retrieve them. Sensitive information should also be memlock()ed to prevent it from being written to the swap disk.

You can try running the following commands:

ulimit -s 4096

and see this output:

-bash: /bin/true: Argument list too long

Really!? Find more at Red Hat Bug 1463241 – rlimit_stack problems after update.

If you’re using this kernel, I suggest you upgrade immediately. Your applications that might be written with these limits set wil fail.


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