Kernel Support for miscellaneous Binary Formats (binfmt_misc)¶
This Kernel feature allows you to invoke almost (for restrictions see below) every program by simply typing its name in the shell. This includes for example compiled Java(TM), Python or Emacs programs.
To achieve this you must tell binfmt_misc which interpreter has to be invoked
with which binary. Binfmt_misc recognises the binary-type by matching some bytes
at the beginning of the file with a magic byte sequence (masking out specified
bits) you have supplied. Binfmt_misc can also recognise a filename extension
First you must mount binfmt_misc:
mount binfmt_misc -t binfmt_misc /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc
To actually register a new binary type, you have to set up a string looking like
:name:type:offset:magic:mask:interpreter:flags (where you can choose the
: upon your needs) and echo it to
Here is what the fields mean:
is an identifier string. A new /proc file will be created with this name below
/proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc; cannot contain slashes
/for obvious reasons.
is the type of recognition. Give
Mfor magic and
is the offset of the magic/mask in the file, counted in bytes. This defaults to 0 if you omit it (i.e. you write
:name:type::magic...). Ignored when using filename extension matching.
is the byte sequence binfmt_misc is matching for. The magic string may contain hex-encoded characters like
\xA4. Note that you must escape any NUL bytes; parsing halts at the first one. In a shell environment you might have to write
\\x0ato prevent the shell from eating your
\. If you chose filename extension matching, this is the extension to be recognised (without the
\x0aspecials are not allowed). Extension matching is case sensitive, and slashes
/are not allowed!
is an (optional, defaults to all 0xff) mask. You can mask out some bits from matching by supplying a string like magic and as long as magic. The mask is anded with the byte sequence of the file. Note that you must escape any NUL bytes; parsing halts at the first one. Ignored when using filename extension matching.
is the program that should be invoked with the binary as first argument (specify the full path)
is an optional field that controls several aspects of the invocation of the interpreter. It is a string of capital letters, each controls a certain aspect. The following flags are supported:
Legacy behavior of binfmt_misc is to overwrite the original argv with the full path to the binary. When this flag is included, binfmt_misc will add an argument to the argument vector for this purpose, thus preserving the original
argv. e.g. If your interp is set to
/bin/fooand you run
blah(which is in
/usr/local/bin), then the kernel will execute
["/bin/foo", "/usr/local/bin/blah", "blah"]. The interp has to be aware of this so it can execute
Legacy behavior of binfmt_misc is to pass the full path of the binary to the interpreter as an argument. When this flag is included, binfmt_misc will open the file for reading and pass its descriptor as an argument, instead of the full path, thus allowing the interpreter to execute non-readable binaries. This feature should be used with care - the interpreter has to be trusted not to emit the contents of the non-readable binary.
Currently, the behavior of binfmt_misc is to calculate the credentials and security token of the new process according to the interpreter. When this flag is included, these attributes are calculated according to the binary. It also implies the
Oflag. This feature should be used with care as the interpreter will run with root permissions when a setuid binary owned by root is run with binfmt_misc.
F- fix binary
The usual behaviour of binfmt_misc is to spawn the binary lazily when the misc format file is invoked. However, this doesn't work very well in the face of mount namespaces and changeroots, so the
Fmode opens the binary as soon as the emulation is installed and uses the opened image to spawn the emulator, meaning it is always available once installed, regardless of how the environment changes.
There are some restrictions:
the whole register string may not exceed 1920 characters
the magic must reside in the first 128 bytes of the file, i.e. offset+size(magic) has to be less than 128
the interpreter string may not exceed 127 characters
To use binfmt_misc you have to mount it first. You can mount it with
mount -t binfmt_misc none /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc command, or you can add
none /proc/sys/fs/binfmt_misc binfmt_misc defaults 0 0 to your
/etc/fstab so it auto mounts on boot.
You may want to add the binary formats in one of your
/etc/rc scripts during
boot-up. Read the manual of your init program to figure out how to do this
Think about the order of adding entries! Later added entries are matched first!
A few examples (assumed you are in
enable support for em86 (like binfmt_em86, for Alpha AXP only):
echo ':i386:M::\x7fELF\x01\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x02\x00\x03:\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xfe\xfe\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xfb\xff\xff:/bin/em86:' > register echo ':i486:M::\x7fELF\x01\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x00\x02\x00\x06:\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xfe\xfe\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xff\xfb\xff\xff:/bin/em86:' > register
enable support for packed DOS applications (pre-configured dosemu hdimages):
echo ':DEXE:M::\x0eDEX::/usr/bin/dosexec:' > register
enable support for Windows executables using wine:
echo ':DOSWin:M::MZ::/usr/local/bin/wine:' > register
For java support see Java(tm) Binary Kernel Support for Linux v1.03
You can enable/disable binfmt_misc or one binary type by echoing 0 (to disable)
or 1 (to enable) to
Catting the file tells you the current status of
You can remove one entry or all entries by echoing -1 to
If you want to pass special arguments to your interpreter, you can write a wrapper script for it. See Documentation/admin-guide/java.rst for an example.
Your interpreter should NOT look in the PATH for the filename; the kernel
passes it the full filename (or the file descriptor) to use. Using
cause unexpected behaviour and can be a security hazard.
Richard Günther <email@example.com>