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 represented 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(2), and waitpid(2).
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 getp-
pid(2). A PPID is represented using the type pid_t.
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 using getpgrp(2).
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 pre-
served 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 collec-
tion of processes that share the same process group ID; the shell creates a new process group for the process(es) used to execute 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 setsid(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, respectively 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
* Effective user ID and effective group ID. These IDs are used by the kernel to determine 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 correspond-
ing 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 conjunction with the supplementary group IDs described
below, are used to determine permissions 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-permission 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
* Supplementary group IDs. This is a set of additional group IDs that are used for permission 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 other contexts:
* 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 setpriority(2), sched_setaffinity(2), sched_setscheduler(2), sched_setparam(2), and ioprio_set(2);
* when checking resource limits; see getrlimit(2);
* when checking the limit on the number of inotify instances that the process may create; see inotify(7).
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 supplementary group IDs, are specified in POSIX.1-2001. The file system user and group IDs are a Linux extension.
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 credentials 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), etc.) is carried through to all of the POSIX threads in a
bash(1), csh(1), ps(1), access(2), execve(2), faccessat(2), fork(2), getpgrp(2), getpid(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), euidac-
cess(3), initgroups(3), tcgetpgrp(3), tcsetpgrp(3), capabilities(7), path_resolution(7), unix(7)
This page is part of release 3.25 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, and information about reporting bugs, can
be found at http://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/.
Linux 2008-06-03 CREDENTIALS(7)