A pure-Go implementation of fakeroot using Linux user namespaces.
Go to file
Elara b2da39c1be Add README section about nesting 2023-10-24 13:51:52 -07:00
cmd/nsfakeroot Propagate exit code for nsfakeroot command 2023-10-24 13:03:22 -07:00
loginshell Initial Commit 2023-10-23 14:18:20 -07:00
.gitignore Add nsfakeroot to README 2023-10-23 21:56:50 -07:00
LICENSE Initial Commit 2023-10-23 14:18:20 -07:00
README.md Add README section about nesting 2023-10-24 13:51:52 -07:00
fakeroot.go Initial Commit 2023-10-23 14:18:20 -07:00
fakeroot_test.go Add tests 2023-10-23 17:01:08 -07:00
go.mod Initial Commit 2023-10-23 14:18:20 -07:00



Go Reference

A pure-Go implementation of fakeroot using Linux user namespaces.

What is fakeroot?

Fakeroot is a utility that runs commands in an environment where they appear to have root privileges even though they don't. The original fakeroot command does this by intercepting calls to libc functions like stat(), chmod(), chown(), etc. and replacing them with ones that return values that make it seem like the user is root.

How is this library different?

Instead of injecting custom libc functions, this library uses the Linux kernel's built-in isolation features to make a sort of container where the user is root. That means even programs that don't use libc (such as Go programs), or programs with a statically-linked libc, will believe they're running as root.

You can also nest this type of fakeroot up to 32 times, unlike the original libc-based one, which doesn't support nesting at all.

However, this approach will only work on Linux kernels new enough (3.8+) and on distros that don't disable this functionality. Most modern Linux systems support it though, so it should work in most cases.


Many utilities depend on file permissions and user ownership. For instance, the tar command creates files within a tar archive with the same permissions as the original files. This means that if the files were owned by a specific user, they will retain that ownership when the tar archive is extracted. This can become problematic when building packages because it could lead to system files in a package being owned by non-root users. By making it seem as if the current user is root and therefore all the files are owned by root, fakeroot tricks utilities like tar into making its files owned by root.

Also, many utilities may require root privileges for certain operations but might return errors even when the specific task doesn't necessarily need those elevated permissions. Fakeroot can be used to execute these programs without actually granting them root privileges, which provides some extra security.


This repo includdes a command-line utility called nsfakeroot. To install it, run the following command:

go install lure.sh/fakeroot/cmd/nsfakeroot@latest

Running nsfakeroot on its own will start your login shell in the fakeroot environment. If you provide arguments, those will be used as the command.


nsfakeroot        # -> (login shell)
nsfakeroot whoami # -> root
nsfakeroot id -u  # -> 0
nsfakeroot id -g  # -> 0