cannot use pkexec

Two options to solve this.

  • disable proc-hidepid by default
  • perhaps redirect pkexec to lxqt-sudo / sudo

The second option is currently being tested by me.

The wrapper could use some review. See:

For now only in developers repository which I don’t recommend for users/testers.

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Hello. I read the comment in this thread that my specific issue with Zulucrypt throwing an error are probably unrelated to the subject of this thread.

That said, I wanted to offer some anecdotal details from my experience since the last time I posted a comment on this thread.

If it would be better to open a new thread about this, I will gladly do so.

Steps in this process:

(1) Everything is working properly in my instance of Whonix.

(2) Update/upgrade Whonix to Debian 10/Buster base as instructed.

(3) After reboot, I first got the error regarding “pkexec”, and found this thread. (The only app I used that this affected was Zulucrypt.)

(4) Applied the posted/possible workaround, and was able to start Zulucrypt but not able to open an encrypted volume that had worked fine before upgrade/update to Debian 10/Buster base. That’s the error I had posted about previously that might be unrelated to the “pkexec” error.

Since then:

(5) I opened the original instance of Whonix VM’s (from which this instance was cloned back in July). I went through the exact steps of updating/upgrading as above and duplicated every one of the steps with exactly the same results.

(6) I installed “gnome-disk-utility” which has the ability to attach and open LUKS-encrypted images/volumes. It attached okay, but upon attempting to decrypt it, it throws this error upon failure:

“error unlocking /dev/loop0: The function ‘bd_crytpo_luks_open_blob’ called but not implemented1 (udisks-error-quark; 0)”

Conclusion: I will gladly post this as a new thread if advisable; it is possible that the error involving “pkexec” and this problem of decrypting a previously created LUKS volume are separate issues. The certain overlap is that both manifestations began occurring at the time of updating/upgrading the existing Whonix instance to the Debian 10/Buster base.

Thank you.


Or 3:

  • Get Debian to bring back the polkitd user so we can add it to a proc group

Redirecting pkexec to lxqt-sudo seems like an incredibly hacky way to do this.

if ! mount | grep “/proc” | grep “hidepid=2”

Why grep for /proc then for hidepid=2? hidepid=2 is only a mount option for /proc. It can’t be set elsewhere so grepping for /proc is redundant.

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Please try if this workaround solves your issue:

If not solved: new thread

If solved: no new thread

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This could be done in parallel. But I don’t have much hope given the non-activity of that bug report and little polkit package version number bumps throughout Debian releases. It’s probably “patches welcome”. Also this doesn’t solve this issue in Whonix 15 since polkit changes would have to wait until Debian bullseye based Whonix for the fixed polkit version to trickle down.

Wasn’t sure about it. Just wanted to make sure non-root users cannot influence this behavior.

Agreed. So for Whonix 15 either pkexec to lxqt-sudo redirection or disabling proc-hidepid by default. Which one would you suggest?

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hidepid is a really useful feature and as Whonix is a security focused distro, I think it should stay enabled by default with the redirect at the cost of minor breakage.

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  • In Whonix testers repository this is fixed:
  • In Whonix and above this is fixed.
    ( has some unrelated imperfections. Won’t be released. Higher Whonix release tag and testers-only release coming soon.)

The pkexec wrapper in upgraded security-misc package is functional.

Fixed meaning: I successfully used: gdebi, synaptic, gparted.


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Now also fixed in testers-only build: Whonix VirtualBox - Testers Wanted!

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Anything that remained unfixed here?

Yes. Thunar mounting (or auto mounting) of external drives (e.g. a vbox VDI). I can continue to test for you on a Developer OVA. Its current status is it still doesn’t work without giving UDisks2 an explicit policykit exception which is obviously dangerous and not ideal.

Did you try disabling hidepid yet as per this forum post cannot use pkexec yet?

(I am not suggesting this as the final solution but that would help to identify the cause so a proper fix can be developed.)

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pkexec wrapper might be called without us having a chance to know that. Therefore I’ve now added logging when pkexec wrapper is called to systemd journal. (Calls to sudo are similarly logged by Debian default.)

Identifying xfce4-power-manager xfpm-power-backlight-helper pkexec lxsudo popup was simple but other stuff might otherwise be hard to debug.

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another issue:

another pkexec related fix (which hopefully won’t lead to more pkexec related regressions):

Due to above change, we at least can now see in journal when pkexec wrapper gets run and what the output of any applications is in case these are failing.

There could be quite a few broken things due to hidepid / pkexec wrapper.

Files containing string path.


for x in $(find /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/ -type f) ; do
    echo "$(dpkg -S $x)" 

file owned by package name: file full path

dpkg: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.dpkg.pkexec.update-alternatives.policy
libkf5sysguard-data: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.kde.ksysguard.processlisthelper.policy
xserver-xorg-video-intel: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.x.xf86-video-intel.backlight-helper.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.resolve1.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.locale1.policy
lightdm: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.DisplayManager.AccountsService.policy
gdebi: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/com.ubuntu.pkexec.gdebi-gtk.policy
rtkit: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.RealtimeKit1.policy
xfce4-power-manager: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.xfce.power.policy
ktexteditor-data: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.kde.ktexteditor.katetextbuffer.policy
udisks2: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.UDisks2.policy
policykit-1: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.policykit.policy
network-manager: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.policy
thunar: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.xfce.thunar.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.timedate1.policy
xfce4-session: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.xfce.session.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.systemd1.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.hostname1.policy
modemmanager: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.ModemManager1.policy
synaptic: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/com.ubuntu.pkexec.synaptic.policy
cups-pk-helper: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.opensuse.cupspkhelper.mechanism.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.login1.policy
packagekit: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.packagekit.policy
liblxqt0: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.lxqt.backlight.pkexec.policy

Paths point at these applications:

  • update-alternatives
  • /usr/lib/xserver-xorg-video-intel/xf86-video-intel-backlight-helper
  • gdebi-gtk
  • xfpm-power-backlight-helper [fixed in git master]
  • xfce4-pm-helper [fixed in git master]
  • pklalockdown
  • thunar
  • /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/xfce4/session/xfsm-shutdown-helper
  • /lib/systemd/systemd-reply-password
  • synaptic
  • pk-device-rebind
  • lxqt-backlight_backend

Files not containing string path.


for x in $(find /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/ -type f) ; do
    if grep "path" "$x" -q ; then
    echo "$(dpkg -S $x)"

file owned by package name: file full path

systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.resolve1.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.locale1.policy
lightdm: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.DisplayManager.AccountsService.policy
rtkit: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.RealtimeKit1.policy
ktexteditor-data: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.kde.ktexteditor.katetextbuffer.policy
udisks2: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.UDisks2.policy
network-manager: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.NetworkManager.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.timedate1.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.hostname1.policy
modemmanager: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.ModemManager1.policy
cups-pk-helper: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.opensuse.cupspkhelper.mechanism.policy
systemd: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.freedesktop.login1.policy

Seems quite difficult to create a wrapper. policykit-1 / pkexec is used a lot and quite complex package. Provides a lot binaries.

apt-file list policykit-1

policykit-1: /etc/pam.d/polkit-1
policykit-1: /etc/polkit-1/localauthority.conf.d/50-localauthority.conf
policykit-1: /etc/polkit-1/localauthority.conf.d/51-debian-sudo.conf
policykit-1: /etc/polkit-1/nullbackend.conf.d/50-nullbackend.conf
policykit-1: /lib/systemd/system/polkit.service
policykit-1: /usr/bin/pkaction
policykit-1: /usr/bin/pkcheck
policykit-1: /usr/bin/pkexec
policykit-1: /usr/bin/pkttyagent
policykit-1: /usr/lib/policykit-1/polkit-agent-helper-1
policykit-1: /usr/lib/policykit-1/polkitd
policykit-1: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/polkit-1/extensions/libnullbackend.so
policykit-1: /usr/share/dbus-1/system-services/org.freedesktop.PolicyKit1.service
policykit-1: /usr/share/dbus-1/system.d/org.freedesktop.PolicyKit1.conf


How would I test functionality Run Thunar as root? That’s functionality I haven’t discovered yet.

I.e. policykit policy files that don’t contain a /path/to/binary. I’ve read “policykit helps to run an application as non-root while allowing the application to run only these parts as root which require that”.

How would I test the functionality of ktexteditor-data: /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/org.kde.ktexteditor.katetextbuffer.policy?

I am considering to revert hidepid. Any alternative? @madaidan

  • Can you make policykit compatible with hidepid upstream?
  • Can you make above functionality work and improve pkexec wrapper?
  • Any other solution reaching the same goal (similar hidepid) that does not break pkexec? Perhaps using namespaces or something?
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@Patrick, upgrading to the point release in-place, this bug is back again (even in my existing upgraded in-place system in which I had already applied my own manual fix).

I cannot install DEB files with GDebi, cannot launch Synaptic, and ZuluCrypt error at launch.

Investigating my own (re)solution right now and will report back.

Update: This bug is now worse than it was before, and I cannot find a fix. This is all tested on multiple fresh OVAs out of the box.

My previous fix of changing ‘auth_admin’ (or ‘no’) to ‘yes’ in various policykit files in /usr/share/polkit-1/actions/ no longer works. (What is overriding that?)

If I apply this fix from Patrick: cannot use pkexec

  • Synaptic works.
  • ZuluCrypt works.
  • But Gdebi NOT fixed. (This is the one a lot of people are used to.) Bad errors.

Not to mention other packages like KDE Partition Manager. Now I can’t use that application either.

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Without that fix btw there should now be debug output in journal log.

Most likely the package that owns that files which comes from packages.debian.org since Whonix doesn’t ship any files there.

in git master:


  • synaptic
  • gdebi
  • gparted

You could get this from github pkexec.security-misc.

Probably easier to copy from github raw.


lxsudo mousepad /usr/bin/pkexec.security-misc

ZuluCrypt gui: not tested to encrypt devices but I guess it will still work.

Please let me know what remains broken.

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@Patrick that amended code fixed it! GDbei back to normal again. :slight_smile: Thank you. (I assume that fix will make its way into the next point release, or however it works.)

I never actually use ZuluCrypt itself.

I didn’t see Thunar external hard drive mounting affected by the recent point release, so with that fix above, at least from my end this issue isn’t present anywhere.

As always, I’ll keep observing and reporting.

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