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The cron SELinux module supports various Unix cron daemons, including (but not limited to) vixie-cron, cronie, fcron and anacron.

The SELinux cron support is somewhat more complex than most other SELinux domains, because the cron daemon is responsible for executing workload in the context of end users as well as the overall system. Most Cron implementations are also SELinux-aware, so having some understanding of how they operate is important.

Most of these cron implementations use the SELinux ownership of the crontab file (the file which contains the execution task definitions) to determine in which context a task is to be executed. For instance, if a crontab file installed in /var/spool/cron/crontabs has a SELinux context whose SELinux owner is staff_u, then the tasks defined in it will be run through either the general cronjob domain (cronjob_t) or the end user domain (staff_t) depending on the value of the cron_userdomain_transition boolean.

This boolean, if set to 1 (true), will have the tasks run in the user domain (such as staff_t, sysadm_t, unconfined_t, etc.) whereas, if it is set to 0 (false), will have the tasks run in the general cronjob domain (cronjob_t) for end user tasks, or the system cronjob domain (system_cronjob_t) for system tasks.

The latter is also an important detail - if for some reason packages deploy their tasks as end user cronjobs, then the resulting commands might not be running in the proper domain. As a general rule, system cronjobs are defined in either /etc/crontab or in files in the /etc/cron.d directory. End user cronjobs are defined in files in the /var/spool/cron/crontabs directory.

System administration

To perform system administration tasks (non-end user tasks) through cron jobs, take the following considerations into account:

  • To ensure that the jobs run in the right context (system_cronjob_t for starts), make sure that the cronjob definitions (the crontab files) are inside /etc/crontab or in the /etc/cron.d directories.
  • Have the scripts to be executed labeled properly, and consider using a domain transition for these scripts (through cron_system_entry()).
  • Make sure the HOME directory is set to / so that the target domains do not need any privileges inside end user locations (including /root).

User cronjobs

When working with end user crontabs (those triggered / managed through the crontab command), take care that this is done as the SELinux user which is associated with the file. This is for two reasons:

  1. If USE="ubac" is set, then the SELinux User Based Access Control is enabled. This could prevent one SELinux user from editing (or even viewing) the crontab files of another user.
  2. The owner of the crontab file is also used by most cron implementations to find out which context the user cronjob should run in. If this ownership is incorrect, then the cronjob might not even launch properly, or run in the wrong context.

If this was not done correctly, you will get the following error:

cron[20642]: (root) ENTRYPOINT FAILED (crontabs/root)

If the above error still comes up even though the ownership of the crontab file is correct, then check the state of the cron_userdomain_transition boolean and the default_contexts file. If the boolean is set to true, then the default_contexts file (or the user-specific files in the users/ directory) should target the user domains instead of the cronjob domains:

root #getsebool cron_userdomain_transition
cron_userdomain_transition --> on
root #grep crond_t /etc/selinux/*/contexts/{default_contexts,users/*}
system_r:crond_t:s0   user_r:user_t staff_r:staff_t sysadm_r:sysadm_t

Remember that the default context definitions in the users/ directory take priority over the ones defined in the default_contexts files.


The following booleans are defined through the cron SELinux policy module. They can be toggled using setsebool, like so:

root #setsebool -P cron_userdomain_transition on

Allow system cron jobs to relabel files on the file system (and restore the context of files). This privilege is assigned to the system_cronjob_t domain.


If enabled, end user cron jobs run in their default associated user domain (such as user_t or unconfined_t) instead of the general end user cronjob domain (cronjob_t).

This also requires that the default_contexts file (inside /etc/selinux/*/contexts) is updated accordingly, mentioning that the target contexts are now the user domains rather than the cronjob domains.


Enable additional SELinux policy rules needed for the fcron cron implementation.



The main cron domain is crond_t, used by the cron daemon. It is generally responsible for initiating the cronjob tasks, detecting changes on the crontab files and reloading the configuration if that happens.

Almost all cron implementations are launched through their respective init script.

Some cron implementations which are not SELinux-aware might have the cronjobs themselves also run through the crond_t domain.


The cronjob_t domain is used for end user generic cronjobs.


The system_cronjob_t domain is used for system cronjobs.


The crontab_t domain is used by end users’ crontab execution (the command used to manipulate end user crontab files).


The admin_crontab_t domain is used by administrators4 crontab execution (the command used to manipulate crontab files).


The following list of locations identify file resources that are used by the cron domains. They are by default allocated towards the default locations for cron, so if you use a different location, you will need to properly address this. You can do so through semanage, like so:

root #semanage fcontext -a -t system_cron_spool_t "/usr/local/etc/cron\.d(/.*)?"

The above example marks the /usr/local/etc/cron.d location as the location where system cronjob definitions are stored.


is used for the end user cronjob definition files
is used for the administrator cronjob definition files
is used for the system cronjob definition files


is used for the anacron binary
is used for the cron daemon binary
is used for the cron init script (such as /etc/init.d/crond)
is used for the crontab binary

Daemon files

is used for the cron log files
is used for the variable state information of the cron daemon
is used for the temporary files created/managed by the cron daemon
is used for the variable runtime information of the cron daemon


The following interfaces can be used to enhance the default policy with cron-related provileges. More details on these interfaces can be found in the interface HTML documentation, we will not list all available interfaces here.

Domain interaction

The most interesting definition in the policy is the cron_system_entry interface. It allows for the system cronjob domain (system_cronjob_t) to execute a particular type (second argument) and transition to a given domain (first argument).

For instance, to allow a system cronjob to execute any portage commands:

cron_system_entry(portage_t, portage_exec_t)

It is generally preferred to transition a system cron job as fast as possible to a specific domain rather than enhancing the system_cronjob_t with additional privileges.

Role interfaces

The following role interfaces allow users and roles access to the specified domains. Only to be used for user domains and roles.


is used to allow users and roles access to the cron related domains. This one should be used for end users, not administrators.

For instance:

cron_role(myuser_r, myuser_t)

is used to allow users and roles administrative access to the cron related domains.

For instance:

cron_admin_role(myuser_r, myuser_t)



The net-analyzer/munin package deploys the munin cronjobs as end user cronjobs inside /var/spool/cron/crontabs. The munin cronjobs are meant to be executed as the munin Linux account, but the jobs themselves are best seen as system cronjobs (as they are not related to a true interactive end user).

The default deployed files might not get the system_u SELinux ownership assigned. To fix this, execute the following command:

root #chcon -u system_u /var/spool/cron/crontabs/munin

For more information, see bug #526532.

See also

  • SELinux — a mandatory access control system which enables a more fine-grained mechanism permitting the security administrator to define user privileges.
  • Project:Hardened