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Bug: The capability CAP_WAKE_ALARM should be whitelisted.


Since a recent update of my ArchLinux, I noticed that zsh consider my
user account as privileged and display the sharp symbol (#) instead of
the percent (%) symbol.

The issue was triggered by the systemd update v254 from July 28, 2023.
But let me explain the details first:
1) I noticed that the zsh package in ArchLinux is built with
   the option '--enable-cap'[1]
2) I noticed that the function 'privasserted' that checks if the
   current user is privileged or not, uses the linux capability[2]. If
   there is some effective capability sets, it considers the users as
3) I reproduced the function 'privasserted' on a toy C example to check
   the issue, and I noticed that 'CAP_WAKE_ALARM' was enabled. First I
   thought this issue was coming from a config error on my system, but
   then I figured that this capability was directly inherited from my
   "desktop manager" xlogin[3]. (It is not exactly a desktop manager
   since it is very lightweight, but you get the idea).
4) Since xlogin is simply a systemctl config to start my Xorg session
   I checked the last release of systemd, and sure thing, the release
   note of v254 (July 28, 2023) explains the origin of this issue[4].

Section "Security Relevant Changes" of the release v254 of systemd[4]:
> pam_systemd will now by default pass the CAP_WAKE_ALARM ambient
> process capability to invoked session processes of regular users on
> local seats (as well as to systemd --user), unless configured
> otherwise [...]. This is useful in order allow desktop tools such as
> GNOME's Alarm Clock application to set a timer for
> LOCK_REALTIME_ALARM that wakes up the system when it elapses. [...].
> Note that this capability is relatively narrow in focus (in
> particular compared to other process capabilities such as
> CAP_SYS_ADMIN) and we already — by default — permit more impactful
> operations such as system suspend to local users.

This change was made by Lennart Poettering himself in a GitHub PR[5].

My thoughts on that:
* Since systemd is widely use, I expect this issue to become a real
  one: users will not understand why they are considered as privileged
  on zsh.
* I understand the rationale of using the capabilities to check if a
  user is privileged or not, however, I think some capabilities should
  be whitelisted like CAP_WAKE_ALARM since it is not very harmful.
* Even if systemd was not allowing CAP_WAKE_ALARM by default, some
  desktop manager would still enable it in their systemctl config
  anyway. So it doesn't change my previous point in my opinion.

I hope my bug report is clear enough. I would like to take this
opportunity to thank you for all the work you guys are doing on zsh!

Kind regards,

[1] https://gitlab.archlinux.org/archlinux/packaging/packages/zsh/-/blob/main/PKGBUILD#L74
[2] https://github.com/zsh-users/zsh/blob/zsh-5.9/Src/utils.c#L7522
[3] https://github.com/joukewitteveen/xlogin
[4] https://github.com/systemd/systemd/releases/tag/v254
[5] https://github.com/systemd/systemd/pull/26548

Roberts Woods

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