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Obviously, it can not rwx files that it doesn't have permission to. But I am talking about other "actions", I know of them is binding to ports with lower number than 1024. What else ?

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Non-privileged processes can’t do a lot of things; on Linux, man 7 capabilities contains a comprehensive list.

Examples beyond your two include:

  • controlling auditing;
  • setting up BPF;
  • changing file ownership to arbitrary values;
  • opening raw sockets;
  • changing to arbitrary users and groups;
  • setting up arbitrary namespaces;
  • loading or unloading kernel modules;
  • rebooting.

Note that on Linux, all this isn’t controlled only by root, but also by capabilities, so subsets of these privileges can be granted to non-root processes. There are also other mechanisms to request a privileged process to perform a privileged operation on behalf of a non-privileged user (e.g. rebooting).

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