unveil(2) - SerenityOS man pages


unveil - restrict filesystem access


#include <unistd.h>

int unveil(const char* path, const char* permissions);


unveil() manipulates the process veil. The veil is a whitelist of paths on the file system the calling process is allowed to access.

A process that has not made any unveil() calls is allowed to access the whole filesystem (subject to the regular permission checks). A process that has made one or more unveil() calls cannot access any paths except those that were explicitly unveiled.

Calling unveil() allows the process to access the given path, which must be an absolute path, according to the given permissions string, which may include the following characters:

A single unveil() call may specify multiple permission characters at once. Subsequent unveil() calls may take away permissions from the ones allowed earlier for the same file or directory. Note that it remains possible to unveil subdirectories with any permissions.

Note that unveiling a path with any set of permissions does not turn off the regular permission checks: access to a file which the process has unveiled for itself, but has otherwise no appropriate permissions for, will still be rejected. Unveiling a directory allows the process to access any files inside the directory.

Calling unveil() with both path and permissions set to null locks the veil; no further unveil() calls are allowed after that. Although unveil() calls start to take effect the moment they are made, until the veil is locked, it remains possible to sometimes circumvent the restrictions set by unveiling files and directories contained inside a restricted directory with different permissions.

When a process calls fork(), the unveil state is copied to the new process. The veil state is reset after the program successfully performs an execve() call.

unveil() is intended to be used in programs that want to sandbox themselves, either to limit the impact of a possible vulnerability exploitation, or before intentionally executing untrusted code.

Return value

If successful, returns 0. Otherwise, returns -1 and sets errno to describe the error.


All of the usual path resolution errors may also occur.


The unveil() system call was first introduced by OpenBSD.


// Allow the process to read from /res:
unveil("/res", "r");

// Allow the process to read, write, and create the config file:
unveil("/etc/WindowServer.ini", "rwc");

// Allow the process to execute Calendar:
unveil("/bin/Calendar", "x");

// Allow the process to browse files from /usr/share:
unveil("/usr/share", "b");

// Disallow any further veil manipulation:
unveil(nullptr, nullptr);

See also