fakechroot man page

fakechroot — gives a fake chroot environment


fakechroot [-s|--use-system-libs] [-l|--lib library] [-d|--elfloader ldso] [-e|--environment type] [-c|--config-dir directory] [-b|--bindir directory] [--] [command]

fakechroot -h|--help

fakechroot -v|--version


fakechroot runs a command in an environment where is additional possibility to use chroot(8) command without root privileges. This is useful for allowing users to create own chrooted environment with possibility to install another packages without need for root privileges.

fakechroot replaces some C library functions (chroot(2), open(2), etc.) by ones that simulate the effect of being called with root privileges.

These wrapper functions are provided as a shared library libfakechroot.so which is loaded through the LD_PRELOAD mechanism of the dynamic loader. (See ld.so(8))

In fake chroot you can install i.e. Debian bootstrap with debootstrap(8) command. In such environment you can run i.e. apt-get(8) command to install another packages. You don't need a special privileges and you can run it on common user's account.


-l library|--lib library

Specify an alternative wrapper library. The default is libfakechroot.so

-d ldso|--elfloader ldso

Specify an alternative dynamic linker. This dynamic linker will be invoked directly.


Use system libraries before chroot's libraries. This might be a workaround if system dynamic linker cannot load libc.so from fake chroot.

Try this setting if you noticed following errors:

 $ fakechroot /usr/sbin/chroot /tmp/sarge /bin/true
 /bin/true: relocation error: /srv/sarge/lib/tls/libc.so.6: symbol _dl
 _starting_up, version GLIBC_PRIVATE not defined in file ld-linux.so.2
  with link time reference

 $ fakechroot /usr/sbin/chroot /tmp/centos4 /bin/true
 Segmentation fault
-e|--environment type

Load additional configuration with environment. This configuration file is a shell script which is executed before calling command. The script can set additional environment variables, like i.e.: FAKECHROOT_EXCLUDE_PATH, FAKECHROOT_CMD_SUBST or LD_LIBRARY_PATH.

The environment type is guessed based on command name with optional extension removed (e.g. running gettext.sh loads gettext environment file). If command argument is fakeroot(1) this argument is omitted and next argument is taken as environment type.

The configuration file name is type.env and is searched at $HOME/.fakechroot and /etc/fakechroot directories.

The default environment type is default and its configuration file name is default.env.

The special environment none means that no environment settings are loaded at all.

-c|--config-dir directory

Specify a directory which contains additional configuration for fakechroot. The default directory are $HOME/.fakechroot and /etc/fakechroot.

-b|--bindir directory

Specify a directory which contains the replacement executables shipped with fakechroot. Those are script files with the extension .fakechroot. By default they are distributed over the bin and sbin directories in fakechroot's install prefix, but sometimes a fixed location at build time is not feasible.

[--] command

Any command you want to be run as fakechroot. Use '--' if in the command you have other options that may confuse fakechroot's option parsing.


Display help.


Display version.


An example session with fakechroot:

  $ id
  uid=1000(dexter) gid=1000(dexter) groups=1000(dexter)

  $ fakechroot fakeroot debootstrap sid /tmp/sid
  I: Retrieving Release 
  I: Retrieving Release.gpg 
  I: Checking Release signature
  I: Base system installed successfully.

  $ fakechroot fakeroot chroot /tmp/sid apt-get install -q hello
  Reading package lists...
  Building dependency tree...
  Reading state information...
  The following NEW packages will be installed:
  0 upgraded, 1 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
  Need to get 57.4 kB of archives.
  After this operation, 558 kB of additional disk space will be used.
  Get:1 http://ftp.us.debian.org/debian/ sid/main hello amd64 2.8-4 [57.4 kB]
  Fetched 57.4 kB in 0s (127 kB/s)
  Selecting previously unselected package hello.
  (Reading database ... 24594 files and directories currently installed.)
  Unpacking hello (from .../archives/hello_2.8-4_amd64.deb) ...
  Processing triggers for man-db ...
  Processing triggers for install-info ...
  Setting up hello (2.8-4) ...

  $ fakechroot chroot /tmp/sid hello
  Hello, world!


fakeroot(1) is a complementary tool which emulates root environment. fakeroot and fakechroot might wrap the same C library functions, i.e. mknod(2) function. It is important to start fake environment in proper order. fakeroot should be started inside fakechroot:

  $ fakechroot fakeroot chroot /tmp/sid /bin/mknod /tmp/device c 1 2

Security Aspects

fakechroot is a regular, non-setuid program. It does not enhance a user's privileges.

fakechroot should not be used as a tool for enhancing system security i.e. by separating (sandboxing) applications. It is very easy to escape from a fake chroot environment.

fakechroot should not be run with real root privileges. It might decrease the security of the system because the fakechroot provides own version of core functions with behavior depended on some environment variables.



The shared library containing the wrapper functions.



The value is true for fake chroot environment.


The version number of the current fakechroot library.


The root directory of fake chroot environment.


If this variable is set then fakechroot version string is printed to standard output and the current process is terminated with status taken from this variable. It can be a method to check if fakechroot is preloaded correctly.

  $ case "`FAKECHROOT_DETECT=1 /bin/echo`" in fakechroot*) echo LOADED;; esac

The fakechroot library will dump some debugging info if this variable is set.


The root directory for unix sockets. The default value is the same as FAKECHROOT_BASE and it can be set separately if the FAKECHROOT_BASE is too long and the unix socket path could exceed the limit of 108 bytes.


The list of directories which are excluded from being chrooted. The elements of list are separated with colon.

The /dev, /proc and /sys directories are excluded by default if this environment variable is not set.

This list has to contain at most 100 elements.


A path to another dynamic linker (i.e. /lib/ld-linux.so.2 for i386 architecture, /lib64/ld-linux-x86-64.so.2 for x86_64 architecture).

This dynamic linker will be invoked directly. The dynamic linker don't allow to change argv[0] besides the file name of the executable file, so some application won't work correctly, i.e. busybox(1).


A list of command substitutions. If a program tries to execute one of the commands given (path relative to the chroot, trailing dot is removed) then the substitute command runs instead (path to substitute command is not chrooted).

The substituted command inherits FAKECHROOT_* variables but the original FAKECHROOT_BASE variable which is saved as FAKECHROOT_BASE_ORIG. It means that substituted command runs outside fakechroot environment. Also original command name is saved as FAKECHROOT_CMD_ORIG.

For example:

  export FAKECHROOT_CMD_SUBST=/usr/bin/mkfifo=/bin/true

will substitute /bin/true for /usr/bin/mkfifo and will make possible to install sysvinit binary package.

Give as many substitute commands as you want, separated by : (colon) characters.

It is suggested to substitute at least:

  • /bin/mount=/bin/true
  • /sbin/insserv=/bin/true
  • /sbin/ldconfig=/bin/ldconfig
  • /usr/bin/env=/usr/bin/env.fakechroot
  • /usr/bin/ischroot=/bin/true
  • /usr/bin/ldd=/usr/bin/ldd.fakechroot
  • /usr/bin/mkfifo=/bin/true

to make debootstrap(8) working correctly.

To prevent some looping, the command substitution is done only if FAKECHROOT_CMD_ORIG variable is not set currently.


Fakechroot is implemented by wrapping system calls. This is accomplished by setting LD_PRELOAD=libfakechroot.so. If this library can't be found by dynamic linker, the /etc/ld.so.conf file or LD_LIBRARY_PATH variable have to be modified.


See Also

fakeroot(1), debuild(1), debootstrap(8), rinse(8), http://fakechroot.alioth.debian.org/


If you find the bug or want to implement new features, please report it at <https://github.com/fakechroot/fakechroot/issues>


Copyright (c) 2003-2016 Piotr Roszatycki <dexter@debian.org>

Copyright (c) 2007 Mark Eichin <eichin@metacarta.com>

Copyright (c) 2006, 2007 Alexander Shishkin <virtuoso@slind.org>

Copyright (c) 2006, 2007 Lionel Tricon <lionel.tricon@free.fr>


fakechroot is distributed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL 2.1 or greater).


17 Nov 2016