Linux Security Module kernel repository

Clone this repo:
  1. 876ccbd lsm: add a LSM specific and by Paul Moore · 2 years ago main
  2. 0c38364 Linux 6.10 by Linus Torvalds · 5 days ago
  3. 882ddcd Merge tag 'kbuild-fixes-v6.10-4' of git:// by Linus Torvalds · 5 days ago
  4. 84679f0 fortify: fix warnings in fortify tests with KASAN by Masahiro Yamada · 6 days ago
  5. e328643 kbuild: rpm-pkg: avoid the warnings with dtb's listed twice by Jose Ignacio Tornos Martinez · 9 days ago

Linux Security Module Subsystem

The Linux Security Module (LSM) subsystem is a modular access control framework design to allow multiple security models to be implemented inside of the Linux kernel; popular LSMs include SELinux, AppArmor, and Smack.

The main Linux kernel README can be found at Documentation/admin-guide/README.rst

Online Resources

The canonical LSM kernel repository is hosted by

There is also an officially maintained GitHub mirror:

The LSM mailing list can be found at the link below:

The official LSM mailing list archive can be found at the link below:

Kernel Source Branches and Development Process

Kernel Source Branches

There are four primary git branches associated with the development process: stable-X.Y, dev, dev-staging, and next. In addition to these four primary branches there are also topic specific, work in progress branches that start with a “working-” prefix; these branches can generally be ignored unless you happen to be involved in the development of that particular topic. The management of these topic branches can vary depending on a number of factors, but the details of each branch will be communicated in the relevant discussion threads on the upstream mailing list.

stable-X.Y branch

The stable-X.Y branch is intended for stable kernel patches and is based on Linus' X.Y-rc1 tag, or a later X.Y.Z stable kernel release tag as needed. If serious problems are identified and a patch is developed during the kernel‘s release candidate cycle, it may be a candidate for stable kernel marking and inclusion into the stable-X.Y branch. The main Linux kernel’s documentation on stable kernel patches has more information both on what patches may be stable kernel candidates, and how to mark those patches appropriately; upstream mailing list discussions on the merits of marking the patch for stable can also be expected. Once a patch has been merged into the stable-X.Y branch and spent a day or two in the next branch (see the next branch notes), it will be sent to Linus for merging into the next release candidate or final kernel release (see the notes on pull requests in this document). If the patch has been properly marked for stable, the other stable kernel trees will attempt to backport the patch as soon as it is present in Linus' tree, see the main Linux kernel documentation for more details.

Unless specifically requested, developers should not base their patches on the stable-X.Y branch. Any merge conflicts that arise from merging patches submitted upstream will be handled by the maintainer, although help and/or may be requested in extreme cases.

dev branch

The dev branch is intended for development patches targeting the upcoming merge window, and is based on Linus' latest X.Y-rc1 tag, or a later rc tag as needed to avoid serious bugs, merge conflicts, or other significant problems. This branch is the primary development branch where the majority of patches are merged during the normal kernel development cycle. Patches merged into the dev branch will be present in the next branch (see the next branch notes) and will be sent to Linus during the next merge window.

Developers should use the dev branch a stable basis for their own development work, only under extreme circumstances will the dev branch be rebased during the X.Y-rc cycle and the maintainer will be responsible for resolving any merge conflicts, although help and/or may be requested in extreme cases.

dev-staging branch

The dev-staging branch is intended for development patches that are not targeting a specific merge window. The dev-staging branch exists as a staging area for the main dev branch and as such its use will be unpredictable and it will be rebased as needed. Patches merged into the dev-staging branch should find their way into the primary dev branch at some point in the future, although that is not guaranteed.

Unless specifically requested, developers should not use the dev-staging branch as a basis for any development work.

next branch

The next branch is a composite branch built by merging the latest stable-X.Y and dev branches in that order. The main focus of the next branch is to provide a single branch for linux-next integration testing that contains all of the commits from the component branches. The next branch will be updated whenever there is a change to any one of the component branches, but it will remain frozen during the merge window so as to cooperate with the wishes of the linux-next team.

While developers can use the next branch as a basis for development, the dev branch would likely be a more suitable, and stable, base.

Kernel Development Process

After Linus closes the kernel merge window closes upstream, the stable-X.Y branch associated with the current kernel release candidate, the dev branch, and potentially the dev-staging branch (see the dev-staging branch notes) will be reset to match the latest vX.Y-rc1 tag in Linus' tree. The next branch, as a composite branch composed from these branches, will be updated as a result.

During the development cycle that starts with the close of the kernel merge window and ends with the tagged kernel release, patches will be accepted into the stable-X.Y and dev branches as described in their respective sections in this document. While patches will be accepted into the stable-X.Y branch at any point in time, significant changes will likely not be accepted into the dev branch when there are two or less weeks left in the development cycle; this typically means that only critical bugfixes are accepted once the vX.Y-rc6 kernel is released. During this time the next branch will be regenerated on an as needed basis based on changes in the component branches, and pull requests will be sent as needed to Linus for patches in the stable-X.Y branch.

Once Linus releases the final vX.Y kernel and the merge window opens, two things will happen. The first is that the dev branch will be duplicated into a new stable-X'.Y' branch, representing the new upcoming kernel release, and the second is that a pull request will be sent from this branch for inclusion into the current merge window. During the merge window process the dev and next branches should be frozen, although there is a possibility that some patches may be merged merged into dev-staging for testing or process related reasons.

Pull Requests for Linus

In order to send a pull request to Linus, either for a critical bugfix or as part of the merge window, a signed git tag must be created that points to the pull request point. The tag should be named using the “{subsystem}-pr-{date}” format and can be generated with the following git command:

% git tag -s -m "{subsystem}/stable-X'.Y' PR {date}" {subsystem}-pr-{date}

Once the signed tag has been created, it should be used as the basis for the pull request.

New LSM Hook Guidelines

While LSM hooks are considered outside of the Linux kernel's stable API promise, in order to limit unnecessary churn within the kernel we do try to minimize changes to the set of LSM hooks. With that in mind, we have the following requirements for new LSM hooks:

  • Hooks should be designed to be LSM agnostic. While it is possible that only one LSM might implement the hook at the time of submission, the hook's behavior should be generic enough that other LSMs could provide a meaningful implementation.

  • The hook must be documented with a function header block that conforms to the kernel documentation style. At a minimum the documentation should explain the parameters, return values, a brief overall description, any special considerations for the callers, and any special considerations for the LSM implementations.

  • New LSM hooks must demonstrate their usefulness by providing a meaningful implementation for at least one in-kernel LSM. The goal is to demonstrate the purpose and expected semantics of the hooks. Out of tree kernel code, and pass through implementations, such as the BPF LSM, are not eligible for LSM hook reference implementations.

It is important to note that these requirements are not complete, due to the ever changing nature of the Linux kernel and the unique nature of each LSM hook. Ultimately, new LSM hooks are added to the kernel at the discretion of the maintainers and reviewers.

New LSM Guidelines

Historically we have had few requirements around new LSM additions, with Arjan van de Ven being the first to describe a basic protocol for accepting new LSMs into the Linux kernel^1. In an attempt to document Arjan's basic ideas and update them for modern Linux kernel development, here are a list of requirements for new LSM submissions:

  • The new LSM‘s author(s) must commit to maintain and support the new LSM for an extended period of time; this applies both to authors that are employed to develop and maintain a LSM as well as those that develop and maintain a LSM on their own time. If the authors are currently supporting a LSM as part of their employment, there is an expectation upstream that support will continue beyond the authors’ tenure at their current company. In either case, if the authors are unable to commit to supporting the LSM for an extended period of time, a reasonable succession plan must be submitted along with the LSM.

  • The new LSM must be sufficiently unique to justify the additional work involved in reviewing, maintaining, and supporting the LSM. It is reasonable for there to be a level of overlap between LSMs, but either the security model or the admin/user experience must be significantly unique.

  • New LSMs must include documentation providing a clear explanation of the LSM's requirements, goals, and expected uses. The documentation does not need to rise to the level of a formal security model, but it should include a basic threat model with a description of the mitigations provided by the LSM. Both the threat model and the LSM mitigations must be considered “reasonable” by the LSM community as a whole.

  • Any user visible interfaces provided by the LSM must be well documented. It is important to remember the user visible APIs are considered to be “forever APIs” by the Linux kernel community; do not add an API that cannot be supported for the next 20+ years.

  • New LSMs must be accompanied by a test suite to verify basic functionality and help identify regressions. The test suite must be publicly available without download restrictions requiring accounts, subscriptions, etc. Test coverage does not need to reach a specific percentage, but core functionality and any user interfaces should be well covered by the test suite. Maintaining the test suite in a public git repository is preferable over tarball snapshots. Integrating the test suite with existing automated Linux kernel testing services is encouraged.

  • The LSM implementation must follow general Linux kernel coding practices, faithfully implement the security model and APIs described in the documentation, and be free of any known defects at the time of submission.

  • If new userspace tools, or patches to existing tools, are necessary to configure, operate, or otherwise manage the LSM, these tools or patches must be publicly available without download restrictions requiring accounts, subscriptions, etc. Maintaining these tools or patches in a public git repository is preferable over tarball snapshots.

It is important to note that these requirements are not complete, due to the ever changing nature of the Linux kernel and the unique nature of each LSM. Ultimately, new LSMs are added to the kernel at the discretion of the maintainers and reviewers.