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Developer(s)David Zeuthen, Red Hat
Stable release
124[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 17 January 2024; 5 months ago (17 January 2024)
Written inC
Operating systemLinux, Unix-like
TypePrivilege authorization
LicenseLGPL (free software)
KDE-based front-end.

Polkit (formerly PolicyKit) is a component for controlling system-wide privileges in Unix-like operating systems. It provides an organized way for non-privileged processes to communicate with privileged ones. Polkit allows a level of control of centralized system policy. It is developed and maintained by David Zeuthen from Red Hat and hosted by the freedesktop.org project. It is published as free software under the terms of version 2 of the GNU Lesser General Public License.[2]

Since version 0.105, released in April 2012,[3][4] the name of the project was changed from PolicyKit to polkit to emphasize that the system component was rewritten[5] and that the API had changed, breaking backward compatibility.[6][dubiousdiscuss]

Fedora became the first distribution to include PolicyKit, and it has since been used in other distributions, including Ubuntu since version 8.04 and openSUSE since version 10.3. Some distributions, like Fedora,[7] have already switched to the rewritten polkit.

It is also possible to use polkit to execute commands with elevated privileges using the command pkexec followed by the command intended to be executed (with root permission).[8] However, it may be preferable to use sudo, as this command provides more flexibility and security, in addition to being easier to configure.[9]


The polkitd daemon implements Polkit functionality.[10]


CVE identifier(s)CVE-2021-4034
Date discovered18 November 2021; 2 years ago (2021-11-18)
DiscovererQualys Research Team
Affected hardwareAll architectures
Affected softwarePolkit (all versions prior to discovery)
Used byDefault on every major Linux distribution

A memory corruption vulnerability PwnKit (CVE-2021-4034[11]) discovered in the pkexec command (installed on all major Linux distributions) was announced on January 25, 2022.[12][13] The vulnerability dates back to the original distribution from 2009. The vulnerability received a CVSS score of 7.8 ("High severity") reflecting serious factors involved in a possible exploit: unprivileged users can gain full root privileges, regardless of the underlying machine architecture or whether the polkit daemon is running or not.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Release 124 is out". 18 January 2024. Retrieved 4 February 2024.
  2. ^ "polkit Git COPYING". David Zeuthen. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  3. ^ "polkit Git NEWS". David Zeuthen. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  4. ^ "Polkit releases". Retrieved 1 September 2018.
  5. ^ "Chapter 9. PolicyKit". openSUSE Security Guide. Novell, Inc. and contributors. Archived from the original on 27 August 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  6. ^ "Polkit and KDE: let's make the point of the situation". 22 December 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  7. ^ "Features/PolicyKitOne". Fedora Project Wiki. Retrieved 15 November 2012.
  8. ^ "pkexec". polkit Reference Manual. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  9. ^ "When to use pkexec vs. gksu/gksudo?". Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  10. ^ Команда разработчиков BLFS (5 September 2017). "4: Bezopasnost'". За пределами проекта "Linux® с нуля". Версия 7.4 [Beyond Linux from scratch] (in Russian). Vol. 1. Moscow: Litres (published 2017). p. 169. ISBN 9785457831186. Retrieved 5 September 2017.
  11. ^ "CVE listing for CVE-2021-4034". Mitre. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  12. ^ "PwnKit: Local Privilege Escalation Vulnerability Discovered in polkit's pkexec (CVE-2021-4034)". Qualys. 25 January 2022. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  13. ^ "Major Linux PolicyKit security vulnerability uncovered: Pwnkit". ZDNet. 25 January 2022. Retrieved 25 January 2022.

External links[edit]