A few weeks ago, we introduced an error in the (\~arch) libselinux ebuild which caused the following stacktrace to occur every time the semanage command was invoked:

~ # semanage
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/lib/python-exec/python2.7/semanage", line 27, in 
    import seobject
  File "/usr/lib64/python2.7/site-packages/seobject.py", line 27, in 
    import sepolicy
  File "/usr/lib64/python2.7/site-packages/sepolicy/__init__.py", line 11, in 
    import sepolgen.interfaces as interfaces
  File "/usr/lib64/python2.7/site-packages/sepolgen/interfaces.py", line 24, in 
    import access
  File "/usr/lib64/python2.7/site-packages/sepolgen/access.py", line 35, in 
    from selinux import audit2why
ImportError: /usr/lib64/python2.7/site-packages/selinux/audit2why.so: undefined symbol: sepol_set_policydb

Usually this error means that a needed library (a .so file) is missing, or is not part of the /etc/ld.so.conf list of directories to scan. And when SELinux is enabled, you might want to check the permissions of that file as well (who knows). But that wasn't the case here. After trying to figure things out (which includes switching Python versions, grepping for sepol_set_policydb in libsepol.so and more) I looked at the audit2why.c code and see if/where sepol_set_policydb is needed, as well as at the libsepol sources to see where it is defined. And yes, the call is (of course) needed, but the definition made me wonder if this wasn't a bug:

{lang="c"} int hidden sepol_set_policydb(policydb_t * p) { policydb = p; return 0; }

Hidden? But, that means that the function symbol is not available for dynamic linking... So if that is the case, shouldn't audit2why.c not call it? Turns out, this was due to a fix we introduced earlier on, where libsepol got linked dynamically instead of statically (i.e. using libsepol.a). Static linking of libraries still allows for the (hidden) symbols to be used, whereas dynamic linking doesn't.

So that part of the fix got reverted (and should fix the bug we introduced), and I learned a bit more about symbols (and the hidden statement).

Bonus: if you need to check what symbols are available in a binary / shared library, use nm:

~$ nm -D /path/to/binary


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