I am trying to give permission to a user to perform the same operations as root on the network device can0, such as bringing it up or down. My first idea was to set the group and/or owner of the device to my user and a group I belong to.

Here's what udevadm info -ap $(udevadm info -q path -p /sys/class/net/can0) shows before setting a udev rule:

$ udevadm info -ap $(udevadm info -q path -p /sys/class/net/can0)
  looking at device '/devices/platform/soc/3f204000.spi/spi_master/spi0/spi0.0/net/can0':
  looking at parent device '/devices/platform/soc/3f204000.spi/spi_master/spi0/spi0.0':

And here's the rule I tried (in /etc/udev/rules.d/50-can.rules):

KERNELS=="spi0.0", SUBSYSTEMS=="spi", DRIVERS=="mcp251x", GROUP="can", OWNER="<myuser>"

A udevadm test $(udevadm info -q path -p /sys/class/net/can0) reports the owner and group should be set correctly:

OWNER 1001 /etc/udev/rules.d/50-can.rules:7
GROUP 1003 /etc/udev/rules.d/50-can.rules:7

However after reloading the rules (udevadm control -R) and a reboot, I still cannot bring can0 up or down as a user:

$ ip link set can0 down
RTNETLINK answers: Operation not permitted

I know this rule is matched correctly because I can change the name of the interface by setting the NAME property.

I suspect the problem might have to do with the fact that I can't find a can0 interface under /dev, which might indicate that there is no character/block device for it and programs (such as ip) don't access the device through traditional unix ownership/permissions. If that's correct, how can I accomplish this with udev (namely, giving my user full permissions to can0)?

Note: I saw similar questions such as how can I give a normal user write access to a network interface?, but their solution is to use sudo. I'd rather do this with udev only, but I'll use this as a last resort.

  • Once the interface is created (maybe with the help of udev) it's behaving as any other interface, and udev doesn't have a word to say about it. You can't achieve your goal through udev. An interface configuration requires root access or CAP_NET_ADMIN or any tool (with those privileges) available to the user. sudo, NetworkManager, ...
    – A.B
    Aug 24, 2020 at 17:07
  • I see, thanks for the info about CAP_NET_ADMIN, I'm looking into it now. I did a preliminary attempt by doing a sudo setcap cap_net_admin+ie /bin/ip (which seemed to work), but I still got Operation not permitted. More research needed I guess.
    – Naju
    Aug 24, 2020 at 17:40
  • @A.B OK I got it by following stackoverflow.com/questions/1956732/… carefully. Your comment gave me exacly what I wanted to do (bring can0 up/down without going through sudo). Would you like to put it as an answer so I can accept it?
    – Naju
    Aug 24, 2020 at 18:15
  • It's fine if your answer it yourself. I gave pointers but didn't know what would work for your case.
    – A.B
    Aug 24, 2020 at 19:06

1 Answer 1


Following clue from @A.B I ended up using libpam (pam_cap.so) to add the capability CAP_NET_ADMIN to my user's inheritable set during login (and ssh), then added the same capability to /bin/ip's inheritable and permitted sets. I can now bring network interfaces up or down as the user, and without relying on sudo.

The way to do this is explained here: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1956732/is-it-possible-to-configure-linux-capabilities-per-user

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