Bug 1206756 - exo-open will execute an untrusted application launcher
Summary: exo-open will execute an untrusted application launcher
Alias: None
Product: Fedora
Classification: Fedora
Component: exo
Version: 21
Hardware: All
OS: Unspecified
Target Milestone: ---
Assignee: Kevin Fenzi
QA Contact: Fedora Extras Quality Assurance
Depends On:
TreeView+ depends on / blocked
Reported: 2015-03-28 03:56 UTC by Noah Petherbridge
Modified: 2015-12-02 17:47 UTC (History)
4 users (show)

Fixed In Version:
Doc Type: Bug Fix
Doc Text:
Clone Of:
Last Closed: 2015-12-02 10:36:52 UTC
Type: Bug

Attachments (Terms of Use)

Description Noah Petherbridge 2015-03-28 03:56:59 UTC
Description of problem:

xdg-open can be told to open an application launcher (.desktop file) that is not "trusted" (marked executable). xdg-open will launch the application from this file anyway.

Graphical desktop environments like Xfce/Thunar, on the other hand, will not execute an untrusted application launcher. Instead, double-clicking it will result in a warning prompt explaining that the launcher is not trusted and giving options to mark it executable, launch it anyway, or cancel.

Version-Release number of selected component (if applicable):


How reproducible:


Steps to Reproduce:
1. Create an application launcher .desktop file, and make sure it is NOT executable (chmod -x)
2. Run `xdg-open test.desktop` to launch your file. See that it runs.
3. Open Thunar on an Xfce desktop (haven't tested with Nautilus), and double-click on the .desktop file. See that it resists launching it.
4. Mark it executable with `chmod +x test.desktop`
5. Double-click it in Thunar and see that it executes now with no prompt.

Actual results:

xdg-open will run the application launcher even though it is not marked executable and is not "trusted" by a graphical desktop environment.

Expected results:

xdg-open should refuse to launch a non-executable application launcher and give an error message indicating that the launcher must be made executable.

Additional info:

Demonstration video of a proof of concept exploit that has this as the root cause: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gjyJj1RJAYY

Example application launcher (will launch gedit):

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Test App

Comment 1 Rex Dieter 2015-03-28 05:34:19 UTC
Under what circumstances will xdg-open execute such an (untrusted) application launcher?  (other than explicitly and manually doing it?)

Comment 2 Noah Petherbridge 2015-03-28 05:38:10 UTC
As in the linked YouTube video, you can send somebody a file:// URL in Pidgin which becomes a clickable link, and it could point to an untrusted .desktop file that then gets launched when clicked.


1. Send a user a link that downloads a .desktop file (Chrome/Chromium will automatically download it without prompting)
2. Send the user a file:// link to the downloaded .desktop file, which has a predictable file path on disk.

If instead the user attempted to navigate to and double-click the .desktop file, they would be warned about it being untrusted and they need to confirm if they really want to execute it. When clicking a file:// link, they don't get any such warning.

Comment 3 Rex Dieter 2015-03-28 18:04:49 UTC
This may be DE-specific.

For example, if I do:

xdg-open /usr/share/applications/kde4/kfmclient_html.desktop

on kde/plasma, it opens an editor for the .desktop file (and does not execute it).

on kde, xdg-open uses 'kde-open'

On XFCE, xdg-open uses exo-open, and indeed, 

exo-open /usr/share/applications/kde4/kfmclient_html.desktop

launches the app, and sure enough, if I copy that .desktop file locally (without execuate bit), exo-open still opens it without fuss.

Reassigning -> exo-open

Comment 4 Kevin Fenzi 2015-03-29 13:05:15 UTC
Sadly it seems there was no changes made to the actual spec around calling non executable desktop files 'untrusted', it's just something some groups choose to do. ;( 

I can file a bug upstream asking for that... or would you prefer to do so?

Comment 5 Fedora End Of Life 2015-11-04 15:38:12 UTC
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Comment 6 Fedora End Of Life 2015-12-02 10:36:56 UTC
Fedora 21 changed to end-of-life (EOL) status on 2015-12-01. Fedora 21 is
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