SUMMARY : Root can't create a symbolic link

From: Niall O Broin (
Date: Fri Jun 20 1997 - 03:34:11 CDT

Well, no prizes today folks. Kevin Sheehan came closest with his suggestion

> 1) any setgid strangeness here ?

which pointed me in the right direction. An attempt is being made to port an
application to Solaris from SunOS (FYI Kevin, it's the telemetry processing
app. we corresponded about before) and one of the things done under SunOS for
this app. was to make a number of programs setuid root which are normally not
so that the application could run them with root's privileges. Security is not
an issue here as these are dedicated stand-alone machines. One of the programs
so affected was ln. This now begs the question - why, if ln is made setuid root,
can it then only create symbolic links in a world writable directory ?

BTW this strangeness also affects rm, which was also setuid root. rm won't remove
files except from a directory which is group writable. Also, rm -fr won't actually
remove such a directory - you need to rmdir it.

The obvious question may seem to be - why would you do that ? But, given that the
application as it currently runs needs to do this, why this weirdness ?

So, a summary which is really several more questions - that's a first for me.

Thanks to all who answered, even those who thought I didn't know about root's
permissions on an NFS mounted directory :-)

Niall O Broin

UNIX Network Administrator
Ground Systems Engineering Department Ph./Fax +49 6151 90 3619/2179
European Space Operations Centre, Darmstadt, Germany

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