How (on earth) do I run Chromium as the nobody user? Selected failures (in Openbox):

su nobody chromium

This account is currently not available

sudo -u nobody chromium

[0316/203558.490760:FATAL:chrome_main_delegate.cc(442)] Check failed: process_type.empty(). Unable to get the user data directory for process type: zygote ...

sudo -u nobody chromium --user-data-dir=/root

No protocol specified

[595:595:0316/203827.174040:ERROR:browser_main_loop.cc(279)] Gtk: cannot open display: :0

sudo -u nobody chromium --user-data-dir=/home

No protocol specified

[615:615:0316/203909.792019:ERROR:browser_main_loop.cc(279)] Gtk: cannot open display: :0

My specs:

Linux arch 4.10.1-1-ARCH #1 SMP PREEMPT Sun Feb 26 21:08:53 UTC 2017 x86_64 GNU/Linux Chromium 57.0.2987.98

cat /etc/passwd:

I prefer nobody because running Chromium as root is strongly discouraged and it seems to stupid to create a user just for running Chromium


xhost local:root; su -pc 'env -i DISPLAY="${DISPLAY}" chromium' nobody

run by root in an X session works (if you want to make local connections to X server as root, local:root is much safer than +). Still, there were two errors:

Home directory not accessible: Permission denied [629:629:0323/170000.968320:ERROR:child_thread_impl.cc(762)] Request for unknown Channel-associated interface: ui::mojom::GpuMain

Get rid of the first one w/

mkdir /home/nobody; chown -R nobody:nobody /home/nobody; su -pc 'env -i DISPLAY="${DISPLAY}" HOME=/home/nobody chromium' nobody

1 Answer 1


As the user whose current X session is up:

$ xhost +
$ su - -c "DISPLAY=\"${DISPLAY}\" /bin/sh"

The first step, xhost +, allows any user to connect to the current X session1. The second step is unnecessary if you were already root2. Next, you will change to nobody and run chromium:

# su -p -c "env -i DISPLAY=\"${DISPLAY}\" chromium" nobody

The -p preserves the environment, allowing the locked user to "log in". Then env -i clears the environment, which is probably more secure but may or may not be what you want.

1 I assume there is a way to grant access only to a specific other user, but I don't know what it is.
2 Common practice is to create a non-root account for typical day-to-day activities, only switching to root for administrative tasks.

  • I see you skipped the "change to nobody" part. su nobody gives "This account is currently not available" (see the text); sudo -u nobody -s works but doesn't influence the result, which will be (w/ or w/out it, and after completing all your steps) "Chromium can not be run as root"
    – jaam
    Mar 19, 2017 at 20:20
  • @jaam Well, almost. Merely a typo, not forgetting. See edit. This does work and has been tested — the -p is what allows the locked user to log in. You definitely don't want to use sudo -s.
    – Fox
    Mar 19, 2017 at 20:23
  • @jaam Well, I should say "almost tested" — I don't have chromium installed, so I used xev. firefox (my preferred browser) doesn't work with the -i switch of env, and I also had to create some directories to get firefox to start. Chromium may have similar issues. I ended up creating /nobody with owner and group nobody, permissions 700 and also passed HOME=/nobody to env.
    – Fox
    Mar 19, 2017 at 22:07

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