Splunk® Enterprise

Installation Manual

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Run Splunk as a different or non-root user

You can run Splunk as any user on the local system. If you run Splunk as a non-root user, make sure Splunk has the appropriate permissions to:

  • Read the files and directories it is configured to watch. Some log files and directories may require root or superuser access to be indexed.
  • Write to Splunk's directory and execute any scripts configured to work with your alerts or scripted input.
  • Bind to the network ports it is listening on (ports below 1024 are reserved ports that only root can bind to).

Note: Because ports below 1024 are reserved for root access only, Splunk will only be able to listen on port 514 (the default listening port for syslog) if it is running as root. You can, however install another utility (such as syslog-ng) to write your syslog data to a file and have Splunk monitor that file instead.


To run Splunk as a non-root user, you need to first install Splunk as root. Then, before you start Splunk for the first time, change the ownership of the splunk directory to the desired user. The following are instructions to install Splunk and run it as a non-root user, splunk.

Note: In the following examples, $SPLUNK_HOME represents the path to the Splunk installation directory.

1. Create the user and group, splunk.

For Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD:

useradd splunk
groupadd splunk

For Mac OS:

You can use the System Preferences > Accounts panel to add users and groups.

2. As root and using one of the packages (not a tarball), run the installation.

Important: Do not start Splunk yet.

3. Use the chown command to change the ownership of the splunk directory and everything under it to the desired user.

chown -R splunk $SPLUNK_HOME

4. Start Splunk.

$SPLUNK_HOME/bin/splunk start

Also, if you want to start Splunk as the splunk user while you are logged in as a different user, you can use the sudo command:

sudo -H -u splunk $SPLUNK_HOME/bin/splunk start

This example command assumes:

  • If Splunk is installed in an alternate location, update the path in the command accordingly.
  • Your system may not have sudo installed. If this is the case, you can use su.
  • If you are installing using a tarball and want Splunk to run as a particular user (such as splunk), you must create that user manually.
  • The splunk user will need access to /dev/urandom to generate the certs for the product.

Solaris 10 privileges

When installing on Solaris 10 as the splunk user, you must set additional privileges to start splunkd and bind to reserved ports.

To start splunkd as the splunk user on Solaris 10, run:

# usermod -K defaultpriv=basic,net_privaddr,proc_exec,proc_fork splunk

To allow the splunk user to bind to reserved ports on Solaris 10, run (as root):

# usermod -K defaultpriv=basic,net_privaddr splunk
Configure PDF printing for Splunk Web
Correct the user selected during Windows installation

This documentation applies to the following versions of Splunk® Enterprise: 4.3, 4.3.1, 4.3.2, 4.3.3, 4.3.4, 4.3.5, 4.3.6, 4.3.7


When running as user splunk, I am unable to collect events from root-owned files such as /var/log/secure. Per advice above I executed the following command and it did add slunk to the root group in /etc/group.<br /><br />/usr/sbin/usermod -a -G root splunk <br /><br />Suggestions appreciated..

July 18, 2012

> Then, before you start Splunk for the first time, change the ownership of the splunk directory to the desired user.<br /><br />Why? Why is this so important to do the first time, and not later? Does Splunk do something internally with this information? Why can't I start as root now, play with it for a bit, and then `chown -R splunk $SPLUNK_HOME` and restart it later? I've run hundreds of servers on Linux, and this is the first that requires that I change the ownership before I start the daemon for the first time.

January 4, 2012

NOTE FOR COMMENT BELOW.<br /><br />It seems that comments posted here are not allowed to contain brackets (less-than and greater-than). This makes my previous comment hard to read.<br /><br />The 'rpm -i' (and 'dpkg -i') lines mentioned are to be read<br /> rpm -i THE-NAME-OF-THE-INSTALLATION-FILE.rpm<br /><br />The line for changing the admin password should read<br /> su splunk -c "/opt/splunk/bin/splunk edit user admin -password THE-NEW-PASSWORD -auth admin:changeme"<br /><br />Sorry for that

August 24, 2011

Assuming you have RPM and want to install as the non-root user 'splunk', the following installation script may be simple and helpful. Note that the 'splunk' account gets created by the RPM installer. For Debian, change the first line to "dpkg -i .deb". <br /><br />Place the script in the same directory as the installation file. Replace text between brackets. Run as root<br /><br />### Script starts below this line ###<br />#!/bin/sh<br />rpm -i .rpm<br />chown -R splunk:splunk /opt/splunk<br />su splunk -c "/opt/splunk/bin/splunk start --accept-license" <br />/opt/splunk/bin/splunk enable boot-start -user splunk<br />su splunk -c "/opt/splunk/bin/splunk edit user admin -password -auth admin:changeme"<br />/etc/init.d/splunk restart<br /><br />#OPTIONAL: to let Splunk read files owned by 'root' (such as some /var/log stuff) consider the following:<br /># /usr/sbin/usermod -a -G root splunk <br /><br />### Script ends above this line ###<br /><br />This is basically it, should work for most cases.

August 24, 2011

BE CAREFUL!<br /><br />Running "chown -R splunk $SPLUNK_HOME/" as root can be very dangerous if $SPLUNK_HOME is not properly defined.. This is a very dangerous command to have casually listed in these instructions..

July 28, 2011

There is one additional piece if you use the init script (aka 'boot-start'):<br /><br />http://splunk-base.splunk.com/answers/13841/splunk-startup-script-start-as-splunk-user<br /><br />It would probably be good to include that here.

July 5, 2011

hi Richard, this is what i found on our community wiki about running under selinux:<br />http://www.splunk.com/wiki/Community:SplunkOnSELinux

January 10, 2011

Given that I accomplished the above, until "splunk start", Splunk will not start yet because of SELinux. Is there any knowledge on "setting the 'SPLUNK_IGNORE_SELINUX' environment variable"? I'm using Fedora.

January 3, 2011

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