Grsecurity/Configuring and Installing grsecurity

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Obtaining grsecurity Configuring and Installing grsecurity The Administration Utility

The following instructions will lead you through the process of patching the Linux kernel with grsecurity, configuring its features and compiling, and installing the patched kernel.

Patching Your Kernel with grsecurity[edit | edit source]

In this document the kernel source archive is called linux-3.2.50.tar and the matching grsecurity patch grsecurity-2.9.1-3.2.50-201308052151.patch. Both files are in the same directory.

Change to the root user and run the following commands in the directory you downloaded the files to. The first command decompresses the Linux source package, and the second one applies the patch to the kernel. You may need to install the patch program with your preferred package management tool.

# tar -xf linux-3.2.50.tar
# cd linux-3.2.50
# patch -p1 < ../grsecurity-2.9.1-3.2.50-201308052151.patch

Configuring the Kernel[edit | edit source]

The kernel source package contains a generic configuration file that should work without any significant modifications. Your distribution may have its own process and tools for configuring and building the kernel, in which case you should consult their documentation. Nonetheless you should go through the options and make sure they match your hardware and current setup.

To configure the kernel using the default configuration as a base, change into the kernel source directory (e.g. /usr/src/linux-3.2.50), and execute the below command.

$ make menuconfig

You may need to install missing packages and libraries - follow the error messages for direction.

The interactive Kernel Configuration menu will launch. In the 3.x and 2.6 kernels the grsecurity options are under Security options » Grsecurity. Detailed descriptions of each option and its effects on the system can be viewed online on the Grsecurity and PaX Configuration Options page or by using the built-in help functionality of the kernel configuration system. Make sure you understand each option before you enable or disable them. Once you have exited the Configuration menu, you can launch it again by rerunning "make menuconfig".

It is recommended that you start by setting the Configuration Method option to Automatic and then configuring Usage Type and other options to fit your environment and needs. You can fine-tune all grsecurity and PaX settings in the Customize Configuration section, if needed.

Suggestions[edit | edit source]

  • Enable the sysctl interface (Grsecurity » Customize Configuration » Sysctl Support). It will enable you to change the options that grsecurity runs with, without recompiling the kernel. This is a very helpful feature, especially when you are using grsecurity for the first time. "Configuration Method - Automatic" enables this feature by default.
  • Some auditing options produce a lot of log messages, most notably Exec and Chdir logging (GRKERNSEC_EXECLOG and GRKERNSEC_AUDIT_CHDIR, respectively). If you enable either of them, make sure your logging system is properly configured to prevent the logs from flooding. Check Grsecurity » Customize Configuration » Logging Options as well.

Compiling and Installing the Kernel[edit | edit source]

On Debian and Ubuntu[edit | edit source]

To compile the kernel and build a Debian package (deb), execute the below commands in the kernel source directory. Ubuntu users should reference the Ubuntu Community Page and decide whether they wish to use the ubuntu-package overlay directory in building. For building on Maverick from a git checkout, see How to compile a Ubuntu 10.10 kernel

# fakeroot make deb-pkg

To install the newly created Debian package, run:

# cd ..
# dpkg -i *.deb

For more information about building kernels in Debian, please refer to the Debian Linux Kernel Handbook.

Other Distributions[edit | edit source]

Compilation Differences[edit | edit source]

As you are compiling a kernel patched with grsecurity, you will notice some differences. One of these differences appears towards the end of compilation, and may look similar to:

WARNING: modpost: Found 2820 section mismatch(es).
To see full details build your kernel with:

This warning is harmless. As described by the PaX Team on the grsecurity mailing list:

the extra section mismatches are due to my changes, i explicitly
added detection for writeable function pointers which are potential
exploit targets, just to know how many of them there are. we've been
eliminating some of them already but this work will never finish.

as for what they are in general, a mismatch means an unwanted reference
from one section to another. say, accessing init code or data from
normal code/data is not good since init sections are freed up on boot,
so any reference to them must not exist from permanent sections.

You will also notice additional warnings emitted by the compiler when compiling a kernel patched with grsecurity. This is due to additional warning flags that have been added to the build process to help spot specific kinds of bugs. You can ignore these additional warnings.

Conditional Steps[edit | edit source]

Proprietary NVIDIA Driver Patching[edit | edit source]

If you're using grsecurity on a desktop and plan to use the proprietary NVIDIA drivers, you'll need to patch them to be able to function correctly with grsecurity. To do this, follow these steps:

  • Download the NVIDIA driver .run file from NVIDIA's website.
  • Download PaX's patch for the NVIDIA driver from
  • Run sh <name of NVIDIA .run file> -x
  • cd `basename <name of NVIDIA .run file> .run`
  • patch -p1 < ../nvidia-drivers-352.09-pax.patch
  • Install the driver by running ./nvidia-installer
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