RUNUSER(1) User Commands RUNUSER(1)
runuser - run a command with substitute user and group ID
runuser [options] -u user command [argument...]
runuser [options] [-] [ user [argument...] ]
runuser allows to run commands with substitute user and group ID. If the option -u not
given, fallback to su compatible semantic and shell is executed. The difference between
the commands runuser and su is that runuser does not ask for password (because it may be
executed by root user only) and it uses a different PAM configuration. The command
runuser does not have to be installed with suid permissions.
When called without arguments runuser defaults to running an interactive shell as root.
For backward compatibility runuser defaults to not change the current directory and to
only set the environment variables HOME and SHELL (plus USER and LOGNAME if the target
user is not root). This version of runuser uses PAM for session management.
-c command, --command=command
Pass command to the shell with the -c option.
Same as -c but do not create a new session (discouraged).
Pass -f to the shell which may or may not be useful depending on the shell.
specify the primary group, this option is allowed for root user only
specify a supplemental group, this option is allowed for root user only
-, -l, --login
Starts the shell as login shell with an environment similar to a real login:
o clears all environment variables except for TERM
o initializes the environment variables HOME, SHELL, USER, LOGNAME, PATH
o changes to the target user's home directory
o sets argv of the shell to '-' in order to make the shell a login shell
-m, -p, --preserve-environment
Preserves the whole environment, ie does not set HOME, SHELL, USER nor LOGNAME.
The option is ignored if the option --login is specified.
-s SHELL, --shell=SHELL
Runs the specified shell instead of the default. The shell to run is selected
according to the following rules in order:
o the shell specified with --shell
o The shell specified in the environment variable SHELL if the --preserve-
environment option is used.
o the shell listed in the passwd entry of the target user
If the target user has a restricted shell (i.e. not listed in /etc/shells) the
--shell option and the SHELL environment variables are ignored unless the calling
user is root.
--help Display help text and exit.
Display version information and exit.
runuser reads the /etc/default/runuser and /etc/login.defs configuration files. The fol-
lowing configuration items are relevant for runuser:
Defines the PATH environment variable for a regular user. The default value is
Defines the PATH environment variable for root. The default value is /usr/local/sbin:
If set to yes and --login and --preserve-environment were not specified runuser ini-
runuser normally returns the exit status of the command it executed. If the command was
killed by a signal, runuser returns the number of the signal plus 128.
Exit status generated by runuser itself:
1 Generic error before executing the requested command
126 The requested command could not be executed
127 The requested command could was not found
default PAM configuration file
PAM configuration file if --login is specified
runuser specific logindef config file
/etc/login.defs global logindef config file
pam(8), shells(5), login.defs(5), su(1)
Derived from coreutils' su which was based on an implemenation from David MacKenzie and
Fedora runuser command from Dan Walsh.
The runuser command is part of the util-linux package and is available from Linux Kernel
util-linux August 2012 RUNUSER(1)