Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (LKRG) for Debian, Whonix, Qubes, Kicksecure
LKRG is Freedom Software / Open Source. 
The focus of this wiki page is to provide simplified user documentation and easy installation of LKRG in Debian, Kicksecure, Qubes, Whonix, and perhaps Debian-based Linux distributions. Installable from an APT repository.
This is only a very brief introduction, since LKRG technical details are not the focus of this page. Quote official LKRG homepage:
LKRG performs runtime integrity checking of the Linux kernel and detection of security vulnerability exploits against the kernel.
As controversial as this concept is, LKRG attempts to post-detect and hopefully promptly respond to unauthorized modifications to the running Linux kernel (integrity checking) or to credentials such as user IDs of the running processes (exploit detection). For process credentials, LKRG attempts to detect the exploit and take action before the kernel would grant access (such as open a file) based on the unauthorized credentials.
LKRG defeats many pre-existing exploits of Linux kernel vulnerabilities, and will likely defeat many future exploits (including of yet unknown vulnerabilities) that do not specifically attempt to bypass LKRG. While LKRG is bypassable by design, such bypasses tend to require more complicated and/or less reliable exploits.
To learn more about LKRG, interested readers can:
- review the official LKRG homepage
- watch the LKRG Presentation Video or LKRG Presentation Slides
- read the LKRG Wiki
- LKRG rootkit detection
- consult other Upstream Resources
- LKRG is also mentioned in Master's Thesis Effectiveness of Linux Rootkit Detection Tools
Quote LKRG upstream:
No benchmarks have yet been performed, but it appears the performance penalty is around
2.5%for fully enabled LKRG.
Quote Phoronix.com, Benchmarking The Performance Overhead To The Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (page 5), Michael Larabel (
Out of 90 benchmarks run comparing the performance hit on this Intel Core i9 9900KS from LKRG, having LKRG enabled led to around a
5%hit based on the geometric mean of all tests carried out. Granted, some real-world workloads like code compilation speed were impacted much more dramatically while test cases not involving I/O or other kernel operations tended to see no measurable difference in run-time performance.
See the full article Benchmarking The Performance Overhead To The Linux Kernel Runtime Guard for a detailed benchmark.
LKRG Free vs LKRG Pro
Kicksecure ™ developer Patrick Schleizer said:
Contacted upstream LKRG developers privately. To paraphrase: "We don’t oppose you packaging it. As long as LKRG exists, there will always be a free and libre version. There is no pro version yet. A hypothetical future pro version would not change that." In my words: "there won’t be a grsecurity alike situation where everything gets closed down".
Quote LKRG wiki:
We will likely use GPLv2 at least for LKRG free. We might or might not use a different license for LKRG Pro, if we ever make it.
Users who benefit from LKRG Free are encouraged to support its further development. However, at the time of writing they are not accepting donations: 
We used to accept donations for LKRG via Patreon, but we currently don't. Some of our former supporters are listed in the PATREON file in LKRG distribution tarballs.
Note: Users who require better security can Build the Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (LKRG) Debian Package from Source Code and verify software signatures before installation.
|Logo||Host Operating System||Installation Instructions||Note|
|Debian hosts||Follow the instructions below to install from the Kicksecure ™ repository. ||If intending to run the VirtualBox host software (such as for running Kicksecure ™ virtual machines (VMs)) additional configuration is required. |
|Kicksecure ™||Follow the installation instructions below.||In Kicksecure ™, skip the following "Add Kicksecure ™ repository" step since it is already enabled by default.|
|Qubes OS Debian based VMs||Follow these LKRG Qubes instructions.||See footnote. |
|Kicksecure ™ for Qubes||Follow these LKRG Kicksecure ™ for Qubes instructions.||See footnote. |
|Other Linux distributions||LKRG is available for most Linux distributions.||Follow the installation instructions for non-Debian distributions on the official LKRG homepage.|
Add Kicksecure ™ repository.
The LKRG installation is complete. 
It is recommended to review optional hardening and other entries below, but this is not required.
It might be possible to further improve the security provided by LKRG though LKRG configuration, but this can potentially lead to decreased system stability. Note: Unspecific to Kicksecure ™.
General LKRG Configuration Tips
Note: All the possible configuration changes in this section are optional.
Table: General LKRG Configuration Tips
|View Current Runtime Configuration||To view the current configuration, run.
sudo sysctl -a | grep lkrg
Refer to upstream readme chapter
|Temporary Runtime Configuration Changes||To temporarily change configuration settings until next reboot, run.
sudo sysctl -w lkrg.pcfi_validate=1
|Persistent Configuration Changes||To enable any (LKRG) sysctl persistently after reboot.
(Kicksecure ™ inside Qubes: In TemplateVM)
Paste (LKRG) sysctl settings such as.
The procedure of persistently changing sysctl settings is complete.
|VirtualBox host software compatibility||
Not required for VirtualBox guest VMs. 
Kicksecure specific LKRG Configuration Tips
Table: Kicksecure ™ specific LKRG Configuration Tips
|Block Module Loading||Users which use |
|Hardening - UMH Validation and Enforcement||Better do not use |
Once LKRG has been installed, little effort is required since it will protect the kernel without the user's knowledge and/or interaction. However, it is sensible to check that LKRG is running correctly and to monitor system logs for any suspicious entries. Check this entry at a later date for any additional recommendations.
To check systemd journal log for kernel messages by LKRG, run.
sudo journalctl -b | grep lkrg
To keep watching systemd journal log for new LKRG messages, run.
sudo journalctl -b -f | grep lkrg
At this stage a graphical user interface (GUI) is not provided that can proactively inform users who fail to analyze the systemd journal log for relevant LKRG messages. A GUI or popup notification might be developed later on -- help is most welcome.
Quote upstream readme:
To account for the hopefully unlikely but really unfortunate event that some incompatibility between the Linux kernel or other components of the system and LKRG isn't detected prior to LKRG installation yet leads to system crash on bootup, we've included support for the "
nolkrg" kernel parameter in the systemd unit file for LKRG. Thus, if you've followed the above installation procedure for LKRG with systemd, you may disable LKRG by specifying "
nolkrg" on the kernel command-line via your bootloader. The system should then boot up without LKRG, and thus without triggering the problem, letting you fix it.
[...] I would use a different kernel cmd parameter: `systemd.unit=emergency.target` -- which drops me to the shell before even mounting (as read/write) the root file system, and I can disable whatever service I want. [...]
dpkg -l | grep linux-image
ii linux-image-4.19.0-6-amd64 4.19.67-2+deb10u2 amd64 Linux 4.19 for 64-bit PCs (signed) ii linux-image-amd64
dpkg -l | grep linux-head
ii linux-headers-4.19.0-6-amd64 4.19.67-2+deb10u2 amd64 Header files for Linux 4.19.0-6-amd64 ii linux-headers-4.19.0-6-common 4.19.67-2+deb10u2 all Common header files for Linux 4.19.0-6 ii linux-headers-amd64
sudo modinfo p_lkrg
filename: /lib/modules/5.10.0-0.bpo.7-amd64/updates/dkms/p_lkrg.ko license: GPL v2 description: pi3's Linux kernel Runtime Guard author: Adam 'pi3' Zabrocki (http://pi3.com.pl) depends: retpoline: Y name: p_lkrg vermagic: 5.10.0-0.bpo.7-amd64 SMP mod_unload modversions parm: log_level:log_level [3 (warn) is default] (uint) parm: heartbeat:heartbeat [0 (don't print) is default] (uint) parm: block_modules:block_modules [0 (don't block) is default] (uint) parm: interval:interval [15 seconds is default] (uint) parm: kint_validate:kint_validate [3 (periodically + random events) is default] (uint) parm: kint_enforce:kint_enforce [2 (panic) is default] (uint) parm: msr_validate:msr_validate [0 (disabled) is default] (uint) parm: pint_validate:pint_validate [1 (current) is default] (uint) parm: pint_enforce:pint_enforce [1 (kill task) is default] (uint) parm: umh_validate:umh_validate [1 (allow specific paths) is default] (uint) parm: umh_enforce:umh_enforce [1 (prevent execution) is default] (uint) parm: pcfi_validate:pcfi_validate [2 (fully enabled pCFI) is default] (uint) parm: pcfi_enforce:pcfi_enforce [1 (kill task) is default] (uint) parm: smep_validate:smep_validate [1 (enabled) is default] (uint) parm: smep_enforce:smep_enforce [2 (panic) is default] (uint) parm: smap_validate:smap_validate [1 (enabled) is default] (uint) parm: smap_enforce:smap_enforce [2 (panic) is default] (uint)
sudo dkms status
lkrg, 0.7, 4.19.0-6-amd64, x86_64: installed
- LKRG Website
- LKRG Source Code git Repository
- LKRG Presentation Video
- Old LKRG Presentation Slides CONFidence 2018
- Updated LKRG Presentation Slides OSTconf 2020
- LKRG Mailing List
- LKRG Wiki
Upstream Mailing List Discussions
- LKRG compilation hardening flags, checksec, hardening-check
- LKRG packagers / downstream wishlist (signed git commits, signed git tags, version numbers, logo)
- module loading / systemd bug report / suggestion
- LKRG kills VirtualBox host VMs
- VirtualBox host software compatibility
- announcement of this LKRG Debian package on upstream LKRG mailing list
- LKRG module parameters
- Compiling LKRG static into the Kernel / Loading LKRG kernel module as early as possible or after other modules?
- security-misc: Inspired by the Kernel Self Protection Project (KSPP). This package implements most if not all recommended Linux kernel settings (sysctl) and kernel parameters set by the KSPP.
- Hardened Malloc: A hardened memory allocator which can be used with many applications to increase security.
- grub-live: Boot your existing, installed Debian Host into Live Mode.
- Hardened VM Kernel (in development): A hardened kernel configuration optimized for virtual machines, see: development discussion.
- System Hardening Checklist
- LKRG can be installed inside VirtualBox guest VMs without configuration changes required.
- make Linux Kernel Runtime Guard (LKRG) easily available in Qubes
- Only Intel and amd64 are supported at present, see: https://www.openwall.com/lists/lkrg-users/2018/07/31/3
No need for package
lkrg-systemd. See upstream discussion.
lkrgis just a meta package. The only thing it would do is adding
lkrg-systemd. See also:
apt-cache show lkrg
apt-cache show lkrg-dkms
apt-cache show lkrg-systemd
Note that LKRG versioning is based on upstream's git master branch intention to remain in the "prerelease" stage.
Quote Adam Zabrocki:
We're trying to keep master branch stable and let's say in "prerelease" stage :)
- VirtualBox host software compatibility