CREDENTIALS(7) Linux Programmer's Manual CREDENTIALS(7)
credentials - process identifiers
Process ID (PID)
Each process has a unique nonnegative integer identifier that is assigned when the process
is created using fork(2). A process can obtain its PID using getpid(2). A PID is repre-
sented using the type pid_t (defined in <sys/types.h>).
PIDs are used in a range of system calls to identify the process affected by the call, for
example: kill(2), ptrace(2), setpriority(2) setpgid(2), setsid(2), sigqueue(3), and wait-
A process's PID is preserved across an execve(2).
Parent process ID (PPID)
A process's parent process ID identifies the process that created this process using
fork(2). A process can obtain its PPID using getppid(2). A PPID is represented using the
A process's PPID is preserved across an execve(2).
Process group ID and session ID
Each process has a session ID and a process group ID, both represented using the type
pid_t. A process can obtain its session ID using getsid(2), and its process group ID
A child created by fork(2) inherits its parent's session ID and process group ID. A
process's session ID and process group ID are preserved across an execve(2).
Sessions and process groups are abstractions devised to support shell job control. A
process group (sometimes called a "job") is a collection of processes that share the same
process group ID; the shell creates a new process group for the process(es) used to exe-
cute single command or pipeline (e.g., the two processes created to execute the command
"ls | wc" are placed in the same process group). A process's group membership can be set
using setpgid(2). The process whose process ID is the same as its process group ID is the
process group leader for that group.
A session is a collection of processes that share the same session ID. All of the members
of a process group also have the same session ID (i.e., all of the members of a process
group always belong to the same session, so that sessions and process groups form a strict
two-level hierarchy of processes.) A new session is created when a process calls set-
sid(2), which creates a new session whose session ID is the same as the PID of the process
that called setsid(2). The creator of the session is called the session leader.
User and group identifiers
Each process has various associated user and groups IDs. These IDs are integers, respec-
tively represented using the types uid_t and gid_t (defined in <sys/types.h>).
On Linux, each process has the following user and group identifiers:
* Real user ID and real group ID. These IDs determine who owns the process. A process
can obtain its real user (group) ID using getuid(2) (getgid(2)).
* Effective user ID and effective group ID. These IDs are used by the kernel to deter-
mine the permissions that the process will have when accessing shared resources such as
message queues, shared memory, and semaphores. On most UNIX systems, these IDs also
determine the permissions when accessing files. However, Linux uses the file system
IDs described below for this task. A process can obtain its effective user (group) ID
using geteuid(2) (getegid(2)).
* Saved set-user-ID and saved set-group-ID. These IDs are used in set-user-ID and set-
group-ID programs to save a copy of the corresponding effective IDs that were set when
the program was executed (see execve(2)). A set-user-ID program can assume and drop
privileges by switching its effective user ID back and forth between the values in its
real user ID and saved set-user-ID. This switching is done via calls to seteuid(2),
setreuid(2), or setresuid(2). A set-group-ID program performs the analogous tasks
using setegid(2), setregid(2), or setresgid(2). A process can obtain its saved set-
user-ID (set-group-ID) using getresuid(2) (getresgid(2)).
* File system user ID and file system group ID (Linux-specific). These IDs, in conjunc-
tion with the supplementary group IDs described below, are used to determine permis-
sions for accessing files; see path_resolution(7) for details. Whenever a process's
effective user (group) ID is changed, the kernel also automatically changes the file
system user (group) ID to the same value. Consequently, the file system IDs normally
have the same values as the corresponding effective ID, and the semantics for file-per-
mission checks are thus the same on Linux as on other UNIX systems. The file system
IDs can be made to differ from the effective IDs by calling setfsuid(2) and setfs-
* Supplementary group IDs. This is a set of additional group IDs that are used for per-
mission checks when accessing files and other shared resources. On Linux kernels
before 2.6.4, a process can be a member of up to 32 supplementary groups; since kernel
2.6.4, a process can be a member of up to 65536 supplementary groups. The call
sysconf(_SC_NGROUPS_MAX) can be used to determine the number of supplementary groups of
which a process may be a member. A process can obtain its set of supplementary group
IDs using getgroups(2), and can modify the set using setgroups(2).
A child process created by fork(2) inherits copies of its parent's user and groups IDs.
During an execve(2), a process's real user and group ID and supplementary group IDs are
preserved; the effective and saved set IDs may be changed, as described in execve(2).
Aside from the purposes noted above, a process's user IDs are also employed in a number of
* when determining the permissions for sending signals--see kill(2);
* when determining the permissions for setting process-scheduling parameters (nice value,
real time scheduling policy and priority, CPU affinity, I/O priority) using setprior-
ity(2), sched_setaffinity(2), sched_setscheduler(2), sched_setparam(2), and
* when checking resource limits; see getrlimit(2);
* when checking the limit on the number of inotify instances that the process may create;
Process IDs, parent process IDs, process group IDs, and session IDs are specified in
POSIX.1-2001. The real, effective, and saved set user and groups IDs, and the supplemen-
tary group IDs, are specified in POSIX.1-2001. The file system user and group IDs are a
The POSIX threads specification requires that credentials are shared by all of the threads
in a process. However, at the kernel level, Linux maintains separate user and group cre-
dentials for each thread. The NPTL threading implementation does some work to ensure that
any change to user or group credentials (e.g., calls to setuid(2), setresuid(2)) is car-
ried through to all of the POSIX threads in a process.
bash(1), csh(1), ps(1), access(2), execve(2), faccessat(2), fork(2), getpgrp(2), get-
pid(2), getppid(2), getsid(2), kill(2), killpg(2), setegid(2), seteuid(2), setfsgid(2),
setfsuid(2), setgid(2), setgroups(2), setresgid(2), setresuid(2), setuid(2), waitpid(2),
euidaccess(3), initgroups(3), tcgetpgrp(3), tcsetpgrp(3), capabilities(7), path_resolu-
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Linux 2008-06-03 CREDENTIALS(7)