Run something as another user

Here is a simple way to run something on UNIX / Linux as another user, without having to resort to weird sudo incantations. The Makefile is left as an exercise for the reader.

This has only been tested on FreeBSD, Debian Linux and OpenSolaris so far.

Compile with: cc -o setuid setuid.c

#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <pwd.h>
#include <grp.h>

int main(int argc, const char **argv) {
    /* Check command line */
    if (argc < 3) {
        fprintf(stderr, "Usage: %s user cmd\n", argv[0]);
        return 1;

    struct passwd *pw;
    pw = getpwnam(argv[1]);

    if (pw==NULL) {
        fprintf(stderr, "User not found\n");
        return 1;

    if (initgroups(argv[1], pw->pw_gid)==-1) {
        return 1;

    if (setregid(pw->pw_gid, pw->pw_gid)==0 &&
        setreuid(pw->pw_uid, pw->pw_uid)==0) {
        argv += 2;
        execvp(argv[0], argv);
        return 1;

    return 1;
Gregory Armer avatar
About Gregory Armer
Sometimes I just want to give it all up and become a handsome billionaire.
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