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On a Debian (5.0.3) server I have a user svnsync who owns a certain shell script:

-rwsrwsr-x 1 svnsync users  119 Dec 21 13:45

I'd like everyone in the users group to be able to execute this script with svnsync's privileges. This is related to triggering "svnsync synchorize" commands from post-commit scripts; quoting svnbook:

[...] you might wish to have your primary repository push changes to one or more blessed mirrors as part of its post-commit and post-revprop-change hook implementations. This would enable the mirror to be up to date in as near to real time as is likely possible.

Anyway, I can't get SUID working, apparently because Linux / Debian is one of the modern Unix systems referred to here:

Some modern UNIX systems ignore the SUID and SGID bits on shell scripts for this reason.

This SF question suggests the same thing: "you cannot use SUID root for shell scripts". So, here's my follow-up question:

If I really really want to run a script with the privileges its owner, regardless of any potential risks, is there any hassle-free way to do that? Compiling the script into a binary was suggested, but I'd prefer a simpler way if at all possible. How about calling the shell script from e.g. a Perl script (I actually tried this but couldn't get it working)? Adding everyone to sudoers file is not really a good option either.

Update: got it working by installing perl-suid as 0x89 suggested and using a Perl wrapper script like the following.

#!/usr/bin/suidperl -T
$ENV{PATH} = "/bin:/usr/bin";

chmod +s is set on this wrapper script. Also note that $ENV{PATH} needs to be set in the script; otherwise you'll get a complain that it's insecure.

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On newer versions of debian, there is a package called perl-suid which adresses this problem for perl scripts, maybe it is available in 5.0.3, too.

The security problem with giving scripts the SUID bit is not limited to shell scripts, but affects any interpreted language. This is why your initial attempt to call the script from perl did not work. It seems that it is possible to set the SUID bit on scripts in solaris, but I guess as you do not want to write a C wrapper around your script, migrating to solaris is not an option for you? ;-).

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Thanks! Seems I got it working with perl-suid (which is indeed available also for Debian stable). Surprisingly complicated though with the ENV{PATH} concerns... I'll update the question with the wrapper script that I used. – Jonik Dec 21 '09 at 15:04
Hmm, curious. In my test scripts (whoami etc) it looks like it works, but when trying to do real work (svnsync sync or ssh anotheruser@host it's suddenly back to the original user, not svnsync... :/ – Jonik Dec 21 '09 at 15:49

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