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Knowledgebase:
Start and stop MarkLogic Server as non-root user
26 February 2019 12:19 PM

Introduction

We discuss why MarkLogic server should be started with root priviledges.

Details

It is possible to install MarkLogic Server in a directory that does not require root priviledges.

There's also a section in our Installation Guide (Configuring MarkLogic Server on UNIX Systems to Run as a Non-daemon User) that talks at some length about how to run MarkLogic Server as a user other than daemon on UNIX systems. While that will allow you to configure permissions for non-root and non-daemon users in terms of file ownership and actual runtime, you'll still want to be the root user to start and stop the server.

It is possible to start MarkLogic without su priviledges, but this is strongly discouraged.

The parent (root) MarkLogic process is simply a restarter process. It is there simply to wait for the non-root process to exit, and if the non-root process exits abnormally for some reason, the root process will fork and exec another non-root process. The root process runs no XQuery scripts, opens no sockets, and accesses no database files.

We strongly recommend to start MarkLogic as root and let it switch to the non-root user on its own. When the server initializes, if it is root it makes some privileged kernel calls to configure sockets, memory, and threads. For example, it allocates huge pages if any are available, increases the number of file descriptors it can use, binds any configured low-numbered socket ports, and requests the capability to run some of its threads at high priority. MarkLogic Server will function if it isn’t started as root, but it will not perform as well.

You can work around the root-user requirements for starting/stopping (and even installation/uninstallation) by creating wrapper scripts that call the appropriate script (startup, shutdown, etc.), providing sudo privileges to just the wrapper.  This helps to control and debug execution.

Further reading

Knowledgebase - Pitfalls Running Marklogic Process as Non-root User 

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