This report is about a range of predictable /tmp path issues in various applications in the budgie-extras repository. This repository contains a range of helper applications for the Budgie desktop environment.

During a routine review of applications that are autostarted in X11 environments I found the issues 1) to 4) outlined below. Upstream found two additional cases of predictable /tmp path uses that they addressed, as outlined in items 5) and 6). Upstream released version 1.7.1 today which fixes all the issues.


The affected programs are mostly written in the Vala programming language, some are also scripted in Python. In all cases predictable paths in /tmp containing only the username or no variable components at all are used. In these paths regular files or directories are created. The paths are often used as a kind of inter-process-communication between two or more budgie-extras components.

The impact of the issues differs a lot depending on the actual affected program and ranges from denial-of-service to information leaks to integrity issues through manipulation of the data which is used e.g. for displaying images on the desktop. All the issues are restricted to local attackers, naturally.

Without the Linux kernel’s protect symlink sysctl setting the severity of the issues will in some cases be worse. Even with this protection enabled it is often possible to pre-create the files or directories as another local user, granting world read and write access, which will cause the budgie-extras applications to use them even though they are attacker controlled.

Without the Linux kernel’s symlink protection many of these findings where files are created look like they might allow symlink attacks to have files created in arbitrary locations. The Vala file creation calls I looked into are mostly translated into the following system call, though:


Even tough this is missing the O_NOFOLLOW flag, symlinks would not be followed, due to the combination of O_CREAT and O_EXCL. I will point out cases where symlink attacks might still be possible in spite of this.

As a quick fix for all of these issues I suggested to use $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR instead of /tmp. This directory is private to the logged in user and cannot be manipulated by other users in the system. In the instances where these files are used as a simple communication mechanism (“trigger” logic) it could be considered using sockets, the D-Bus session bus or named FIFOs instead - also placed in safe locations, of course.

Following is a detailed listing of all individual issues based on the budgie-extras Git repository tag for version 1.7.0.

1) budgie-window-shuffler (CVE-2023-49344)

1.1) Path /tmp/shufflerapplettrigger_<user>

In src/shuffler_control.vala line 1740 first an attempt is made to delete this path. Then it starts monitoring the path, reacting to its creation, by automatically selecting (popping up) the “Applet” listbox GUI entry.

The counterpart to this is found in applet/src/ShufflerApplet.vala line 91, where this file is created to let the settings dialog open.

The worst that can happen here is likely confusing the victims GUI so it is low severity.

1.2) Path /tmp/<user>_shufflertriggers/layoutspopup

In src/toggle_layouts_popup.vala line 62 first an attempt is made to create the directory, ignoring any potential errors - considering it to already exist. Then the “layoutspopup” file is created within the directory. Depending on program evaluation logic the string “fromcontrol” is written to the file, otherwise the file remains empty.

In src/layouts_popup.vala line 1384 monitoring for this file is setup, its content is read (it is checked whether it contains “fromcontrol”) and then a popup window is either created or destroyed, depending on the current program state.

Another user in the system can pre-create this directory and then control the creation and destruction of the popup dialog, thereby confusing the victim’s GUI. By placing a FIFO instead of a regular file at “layoutspopup”, the layout popup will be subject to denial-of-service (either by blocking it indefinitely or by feeding it large amounts of data, leading to an out-of-memory situation).

Without the Linux kernel’s symlink protection the issue can be used to make the layouts_popup program read from arbitrary files, or to operate in arbitrary directories.

1.3) Path /tmp/<user>_running_layout

In src/run_layout.vala line 203 this file is created to “temporarily disable possibly set windowrules”. In line 379 this path is (needlessly) constructed again and passed to function create_busyfile(), although this parameter remains unused by the function. In line 478 stat() and unlink() are attempted on the file.

In src/windowshufflerdaemon.vala line 831 an existence check for this file is made. If it exists then the run_rule program will not be executed for any windows.

This path allows a local attacker to prevent the victim’s run_rule ever to be executed.

1.4) Path /tmp/<user>_gridtrigger

In src/togglegui.vala line 33 an existence check is made for this path and depending on the outcome it is either created as an empty file, or deleted.

In src/windowshufflerdaemon.vala line 992 in function actonfile() there is a reaction to the creation and deletion of this path. Depending on this the gridguiruns boolean is set to true or false respectively. If it is set to false then a window will be destroyed in line 1148.

In src/gridwindow.vala line 637 a monitor is setup for this file and depending on it being created or being deleted the gridwindow is being displayed or destroyed.

This path basically allows a local attacker to make the “grid window” managed by the gridwindow program appear, thereby confusing the victim’s GUI. The other way around windowshufflerdaemon can be caused to destroy its “preview window” if this state file is under a local attacker’s control.

1.5) Path /tmp/shuffler-warning.png

In src/windowshufflerdaemon.vala line 1017 in function create_warningbg() this path is used to write a programmatically created PNG image into. In function show_awarning() in line 338 the program sizeexceeds_warning is executed which in turn in src/sizeexceeds_warning.vala line 68 displays the generated PNG image on the desktop.

A local attacker can attempt to place arbitrary PNG data in this path and have it displayed on the victim’s desktop. Placing crafted PNG data could allow to exploit further security issues in image processing libraries.

1.6) Path /tmp/<user>_istestingtask

This path is potentially created in src/layouts_popup.vala line 492. The file receives data from the GUI interface. In src/run_layout.vala line 407 this path is picked up again and its content is interpreted in extractlayout_fromfile().

Since this file’s content is evaluated and used for further program logic there is a chance for a local attacker to massively break the run_layout program’s logic or maybe even achieve code execution. The Linux kernel’s protected_regular sysctl setting comes to the rescue here, though. The open() with O_CREAT will fail. It can then still present a denial-of-service vector, though.

Upstream Fix

This is fixed in upstream commit 11b0201. The public /tmp directory has been replaced by the user’s private $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR, with a fallback to the user’s home directory.

2) budgie-wpreviews (CVE-2023-49347)

2.1) Path /tmp/<user>_window-previews

This path is used for a directory. In src/separate_shot.vala line 43 it is created, errors are ignored. In line 105 screenshots of certain X11 windows are placed in the directory following the name scheme <window-id>.<workspace-name>.png.

In src/previews_creator.vala line 74 an attempt to create the directory the same way is found. In line 241 the directory is iterated over and each file found there, independently of its name, will be assembled in a file list. This file list is luckily only used for removing files of non-existent windows in this program.

In src/previews_daemon.vala line 719 there is another attempt to create the directory the same way as in the other two locations. In line 523 the directory is again iterated over and a list of the contained filenames is assembled, independently of their names. In line 404 the filenames are interpreted and split into X11 window IDs and workspace names again. It seems the code expects all filenames to match the pattern, if this is not the case then the program will likely crash. The resulting file list is (luckily) matched against the existing X11 window IDs in line 421.

Even without exploiting the fixed temporary directory path this directory has security issues, since it is created world-readable. Any other users in the system can access the window screenshots that are created there and thus this is an information leak.

Since all errors trying to create the directory are ignored, another local user can pre-create this directory world-writable, and the wpreviews applications will still use the directory which is now under attacker control. The attacker can place additional PNG image files there, trying to confuse the victim’s GUI experience. A local DoS against the previews_daemon seems also possible by placing non-conforming files into the directory. Since the previews_daemon only uses files from the directory for which an existing X11 window is found, the complexity for a local attacker to inject arbitrary PNG files into the preview logic is raised. It can still be possible by observing the PNG files created by e.g. the separate_shot program and replacing them with crafted data.

Without the Linux kernel’s symlink protection a local attacker can place a symlink there instead of a directory, causing the programs to operate in arbitrary other directory locations.

2.2) Paths /tmp/<user>_prvtrigger_*, /tmp/<user>_previoustrigger, /tmp/<user>_nexttrigger

This long list of trigger files:


is used both in src/previews_triggers.vala line 43 and src/previews_daemon.vala line 664.

The previews_triggers program selects one of these trigger paths depending on command line arguments, various logical evaluations and depending on whether some of the paths already exist. The selected path is then simply created with empty content.

In previews_daemon these paths are monitored and their existence is evaluated in a complex fashion to display previews of existing windows.

In conjunction with the issues in 2.1) this can be used to display attacker controlled images on the victim’s screen at arbitrary times, provided that the victim user is running the previews_daemon.

Apart from the security related problems this group of files for controlling a daemons behaviour seems ill devised. Instead proper IPC mechanisms should be used.

Upstream Fix

This is fixed in upstream commit 588cbe6. The public /tmp directory has been replaced by the user’s private $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR, with a fallback to the user’s home directory.

3) budgie-takeabreak (CVE-2023-49345)

3.1) Path /tmp/nextbreak_<user>

This file is read in line 245 and the resulting string is split on “.”, the first element resulting from this is used as the new “time” displayed in the GUI.

In takeabreak_run line 80 this path is created and the next “break time” is written to it.

A local attacker can pre-create this file and have arbitrary string content displayed instead of the actual “next time”. A denial-of-service will also be possible e.g. by placing a FIFO there.

Upstream Fix

This is fixed in upstream commit 588cbe6. The public /tmp directory has been replaced by the user’s private $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR, with a fallback to the user’s home directory.

4) budgie-weathershow (CVE-2023-49346)

4.1) Path /tmp/<username>_weatherdata

In src/weathershow/WeatherShow.vala line 354 the current “weather data” is written to this location. Before this an attempt is made to delete an already existing file. Errors for both, deletion and creation of the file, are ignored unconditionally.

In line 236 the content from this file is read and interpreted for updating GUI window data.

A local attacker can pre-create this file and thus manipulate the data displayed by the weather applet. Also a denial-of-service will be possible e.g. by placing a FIFO there.

Upstream Fix

This is fixed in upstream commit 0092025. The public /tmp directory has been replaced by the user’s private $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR, with a fallback to the user’s home directory.

5) budgie-clockworks (CVE-2023-49342)

This issue was not discovered by me but by upstream while working on the fixes for the other issues I reported. For completeness I mention it in this report as well.

5.1) Path /tmp/<user>_clockworks

This path is used as a directory in the Python script It is reused if it already exists. The scripts generates SVG vector graphics in there, converts them to the PNG image format and saving them in the users home directory in ~/.config/budgie-extras/clockworks.

Here, again, the image data can be manipulated by a local attacker by pre-creating this directory. In this case the data will even be persisted in the user’s home directory. Crafted SVG of PNG data could be placed in the directory to try attacking the image processing libraries used.

Upstream Fix

This is fixed in upstream commit d030837. The public /tmp directory has been replaced by the user’s private $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR, with a fallback to the user’s home directory.

6) budgie-dropby (CVE-2023-49343)

Like issue 5), this issue was not discovered by me but by upstream while working on the other issues I reported. For completeness I mention it in this report as well.

6.1) Path /tmp/<user>_keepdropbywin

This path is used as a “timer” file in the checkonwin and dropover Python scripts. The file’s content is not evaluated, but the checkonwin script runs wmctrl -c dropby_popup if the file doesn’t exist for more than six seconds.

The Python openat() call uses O_CREAT | O_EXCL flags so symlink attacks are not a problem even without kernel symlink protection. Other users in the system can shorten the “timer” logic of the checkonwin script, though, by creating the file path at an arbitrary time.

6.2) Path /tmp/<user>_call_dropby

The script creates this file as a trigger for the dropover script which reacts to the creation of this path by scanning the current list of USB block devices and their mount points in the system. A GUI dialog is displayed or updated as a reaction to this.

A local attacker can cause this dialog to be displayed by creating this file. It can also be used as a kind of local DoS vector to keep the dropover script busy all the time, iterating over block devices.

6.3) Path /tmp/<user>_dropby_icon_copy

This is used as a trigger file in If the file is created then a GUI dialog is changed and updated. In the copy_flash Python script this trigger is created to signal that some files have been copied.

A local attacker can cause this dialog to be displayed by creating this file at arbitrary times.

Upstream Fix

This is fixed in upstream commit e75c94a. The public /tmp directory has been replaced by the user’s private $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR, with a fallback to the user’s home directory.

7) Timeline

2023-10-16 I reported the issues 1) - 4) to, offering coordinated disclosure.
2023-10-17 Upstream accepted coordinated disclosure aiming at a publication date towards the end of the year.
2023-11-28 Upstream communicated to us the CVEs they assigned for the issues plus for the two additional items 5) - 6) they discovered. They communicated that an upcoming version 1.7.1 will contain the fixes.
2023-12-03 Upstream communicated a preliminary publication date of 2023-12-14 for version 1.7.1 containing the fixes. They shared the individual patches for issues 1) - 6) with us.
2023-11-14 The publication date has been reached, the upstream version 1.7.1 as well as GitHub security advisories have been published.

8) References