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FAQ: Why is root user access required for installing ArcGIS Server on Solaris and Linux?

Question

Why is root user access required for installing ArcGIS Server on Solaris and Linux?

Answer

Starting with ArcGIS Server 9.2 version, root (superuser) privilege is required for installing ArcGIS Server on Linux and Solaris platforms. There are several reasons for this and they are categorized as follows:
- Users creations
- File/Folder Permissions
- Ports assignment

Pre-9.2 Setup issues
In the previous versions (pre-9.2), the ArcGIS Server installation relied heavily on the system administrators to configure the pre-installation components (prerequisites), such as setting up the agsadmin and agsusers groups, installing MainWin, the user authentication component called identity server, and so on. Due to the fragmented nature of such an installation workflow, it was a fairly complex process to get the ArcGIS Server (and its components) installed and properly configured.

What's new in the Setup at 9.2?
At version 9.2, the ArcGIS Server installation has been enhanced for an easier user experience and requires fewer manual installation and configuration steps. In the new setup, the root/superuser launches the installation and in the background, it completes the following procedures:

1. Creates agsadmin and agsusers users.

2. Installs integrated, required components, such as MainWin, Identity Server (under the /etc directory, which requires root access), and the built-in Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) Server.

3. Sets processes to auto-start at GIS server reboot/start-up, and assigns ports to various processes. One of the most important factors is that ArcGIS Server uses Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) as a distributed computing mechanism. DCOM requires the use of port 135. Processes that listen on ports less than 1024 need to run as the superuser. Here are the other root level tasks that the setup performs:

a. Creates the link /usr/bin/mwadm.
b. Creates the file /etc/mainwin.conf.
c. Creates the agsadmin, agsuser, and ArcGIS Server owner accounts (creation of the ArcGIS Server owner account through setup is optional).
d. Creates the /etc/remotesa directory and places contents into that directory.
e. Changes the setuid bits for the ArcSOM and ArcSOC executables.

Note:
There is no option to perform the installation as a non-root user or a 'root type' user. The setup cannot be modified to override this requirement.