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5.3. Main Configuration File

The /etc/selinux/config file is the main SELinux configuration file. It controls the SELinux mode and the SELinux policy to use:
# This file controls the state of SELinux on the system.
# SELINUX= can take one of these three values:
#       enforcing - SELinux security policy is enforced.
#       permissive - SELinux prints warnings instead of enforcing.
#       disabled - No SELinux policy is loaded.
# SELINUXTYPE= can take one of these two values:
#       targeted - Targeted processes are protected,
#       mls - Multi Level Security protection.

The SELINUX option sets the mode SELinux runs in. SELinux has three modes: enforcing, permissive, and disabled. When using enforcing mode, SELinux policy is enforced, and SELinux denies access based on SELinux policy rules. Denial messages are logged. When using permissive mode, SELinux policy is not enforced. SELinux does not deny access, but denials are logged for actions that would have been denied if running SELinux in enforcing mode. When using disabled mode, SELinux is disabled (the SELinux module is not registered with the Linux kernel), and only DAC rules are used.
The SELINUXTYPE option sets the SELinux policy to use. Targeted policy is the default policy. Only change this option if you want to use the MLS policy. To use the MLS policy, install the selinux-policy-mls package; configure SELINUXTYPE=mls in /etc/selinux/config; and reboot your system.


When systems run with SELinux in permissive or disabled mode, users have permission to label files incorrectly. Also, files created while SELinux is disabled are not labeled. This causes problems when changing to enforcing mode. To prevent incorrectly labeled and unlabeled files from causing problems, file systems are automatically relabeled when changing from disabled mode to permissive or enforcing mode.