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As I went to upgrade RootKit Hunter to it's latest version (for the web servers), I found it interesting that none of the announcements of the update gave installation instructions.  Instead, they rely on the ReadMe file in the package.

That gave me an extra step to first download the package and review the ReadMe, instead of just quickly running the proper commands. (sorry, I don't memorize all instructions for all updates/patches).

So, for the sake of those needing a reminder of how to install RKH, here is the readme file from release 1.3.4.
The package is available for download at

Direct from RKH 1.3.4 README file with slight text formatting for easier read. (2008-Jan-07)


Copyright (c) 2003-2008, Michael Boelen See the LICENSE file for conditions of use and distribution.

It is recommended that all users of RootKit Hunter (RKH) join the rkhunter-users mailing list. Subscribing to the list can be done via the RKH website at

A copy of the RKH FAQ is also available from the web site.


Please note RKH has some requirements:

  1. Before RKH starts it will check that certain required commands are present on the system. These are typical commands such as 'cat', 'sed', 'head', 'tail', etc. If a command is missing then RKH will not run.
  2. Some tests require commands such as stat, readlink, md5/md5sum or sha1/sha1sum. If these are not present, then RKH has perl scripts which will automatically be used instead. However, this requires perl being present. If it is not, then the tests will be skipped. Readlink is provided as a script itself, and does not use perl. Other tests will use other commands. If the relevant command is not found on the system, then the test will be skipped.
  3. A tool should be present with which to download file updates. Currently wget, curl, (e)links, lynx and GET are supported. If your system does not allow the possibility to install one of these applications, but does run perl, you can use 'bget' available from If you use another generic method of updating RKH then please let us know.
  4. Some tests require single-purpose tools. RKH does not depend on these, but it will use them if it finds them - they can enhance RKH's detection capabilities.
    The tools are:
    • - Skdet
      Tests for SucKIT, Adore, Adore-NG, UNFshit, UNFkmem and frontkey.
    • - Unhide
      Finds hidden processes.
      If the relevant tool is not found, then the test is skipped.


Unpacking the tar file should produce a single directory called 'rkhunter-'. Where '' is the version number of rkhunter being installed. For example, the rkhunter-1.3.0.tar.gz tar file will produce the 'rkhunter-1.3.0' directory when unpacked. Within this directory is the installation script called ''.

To perform a default installation of RKH simply unpack the tarball and, as root, run the installation script:

 tar zxf rkhunter-.tar.gz
cd rkhunter-
./ --layout default --install

RKH installation supports custom layouts. To show some examples run:

 ./ --examples

As an another example, to install all files beneath /opt, run:

 ./ --layout custom /opt --install

To show where files are installed using the 'oldschool' layout run:

 ./ --layout oldschool --show

The layout named 'RPM' may not be chosen since it is used solely for installing RKH using RPM.

The default installation process will install a configuration file, called 'rkhunter.conf', into the '/etc' directory or where you chose using the --layout switch. Please edit the configuration file according to your own system requirements. If the installer encounters an existing rkhunter.conf, it will not be overwritten. Instead the installer creates a new configuration file, but with a unique number as its suffix. Please inspect the new configuration file and copy over any changes to the existing configuration file.

The main RKH script will be installed into the '/usr/local/bin' directory or where you chose using the --layout switch. Man pages will be installed into '/usr/local/share/man', and other documentation will be installed into the '/usr/local/share/doc' directory. RKH data files, language support, and a directory for temporary files will be installed into '/var/lib/rkhunter'. Finally, RKH support scripts will be installed into '/usr/local/lib/rkhunter/scripts', or, if using an x86_64 system, into '/usr/local/lib64/rkhunter/scripts'. All directories, except 'lib64', will be created where necessary.

Before running RKH you will need to fill the file properties database by running the following command:

 rkhunter --propupd

Note that if you want to use the package management tools provided by your distribution you will need to select a package manager. In the case of using RPM your command would be:

 rkhunter --propupd --pkgmgr RPM  

To run RKH, as root, simply enter the following command:

 rkhunter --check  

By default, the log file '/var/log/rkhunter.log' will be created. It will contain the results of the checks made by RKH.

To see what other options can be used with rkhunter, enter:

 rkhunter --help  
NOTE: The first run of 'rkhunter' after installation may give some warning messages. Please see the FAQ file for more details about this.


It is possible to run RKH standalone, that is, with it all being installed into one directory.

To do this unpack RKH as described above, and then install it using the following command:

 ./ --layout custom . --install

It is then necessary to change to the 'files' directory:

 cd files

Within the directory will be a copy of the 'rkhunter.conf' configuration file. You can modify this file according to your requirements if you wish, but note the installer has already set the necessary variables.

To run RKH, as root simply enter the following command:

 ./rkhunter --propupd --check --sk  


It is perfectly understandable that new users may wish to try out rkhunter without having to fully install it. Similarly current users may want to test a new version of rkhunter, or a CVS version of it, without it affecting their current system or current installation of rkhunter. This is all perfectly possible, and quite easy, using a standalone installation.

First, as the root user, it is suggested that a separate temporary directory is created, and then change to that directory. For example:

       mkdir /tmp/rkh
cd /tmp/rkh

It is now necessary to either copy or download a tarball of the version of rkhunter that you want to test. (Since you are reading this file, we assume you have already downloaded the relevant version.) For users wishing to try the latest CVS version, it is possible to download a tarball. For example:


Next, it is necessary to extract the files from the tarball. The simplest way is to use the 'tar' command, such as:

 tar xzf rkhunter-CVS.tar.gz

Obviously, for official releases, you will need to use the correct tarball name. For example:

 tar xzf rkhunter-1.3.2.tar.gz

For users of systems with alternative implementations of 'tar', for example Solaris users, you may need to break the extraction process into two steps (or use the 'gtar' command if you have it installed). For example:

 gunzip rkhunter-CVS.tar.gz
tar xf rkhunter-CVS.tar

The extraction process will create a sub-directory containing all the rkhunter files. The sub-directory name will contain the rkhunter version number, or, for CVS tarballs, it will simply be called 'rkhunter'. Change into this directory:

       cd rkhunter-1.3.2         (for an official release tarball)
or cd rkhunter (for CVS tarballs)

Now, we can run the installer program as described in the section above about standalone installations:

 ./ --layout custom . --install

Finally change to the 'files' sub-directory:

 cd files

Within here will be all the files that rkhunter requires. The configuration file, './rkhunter.conf', will already have been configured for a standalone installation. So there is no need to modify it unless you want to. Any files created by rkhunter will be within this directory. So, as mentioned above, it is perfectly possible to run a check using this installation without affecting any other installation of rkhunter that may exist on your system. To run a check use this command:

 ./rkhunter --propupd --check --sk

By default a log file (rkhunter.log) will be created, and that too will be within this directory. NOTE: If the rkhunter '--debug' option is used then this will, by default, create a file in the '/tmp' directory, and not within the current directory.

Once you have finished testing rkhunter, simply delete the entire directory it was installed into:

       cd /tmp
/bin/rm -rf rkh


The installation of RKH is largely independent of the system architecture. However, RKH does have some support scripts and these need to be installed into the appropriate library directory. When using the 'default' layout option, or one of the known layout options (for example, '/usr' or '/usr/local'), then the relevant 'lib64' directory will be used only if it already exists. For a 'custom' layout, the 'lib64' directory will be used and created if necessary. Standalone installations do not use any special library directory at all. RPM installations will use the relevant 'lib64' directory only if the system architecture is detected as being 'x86_64'.


RKH supports uninstallation. To do this unpack the installation tarball, and then run the installer with the --remove option. If RKH was installed using a default installation, then run:

    tar zxf rkhunter-.tar.gz
cd rkhunter-
./ --layout default --remove

If you chose a different layout, for example '/usr', then run the installer using:

    ./ --layout /usr --remove
Note: the installer will not remove files that were installed using RPM (use the 'rpm' command to remove the package).

For a standalone uninstallation, specified by using '--layout custom .', the installer will remove the whole installation directory (the 'files' sub-directory).

During uninstallation, the installer will remove the initial configuration file. However, if RKH was installed more than once, then any additional configuration files are not removed. These may be removed manually.

When installing RKH, some directories may have been created. However, RKH is unaware of this when being uninstalled. As such, and especially when having used a custom installation, some directories may be emptied of files, but the directories themselves may remain. Again, these can be removed manually if wished.

In order to see where RKH installed its files during installation, the '--show' option can be used. For example:

 ./ --layout custom /opt --show  


Within RKH some of the tests have been given names. There are two types of test names - specific test names and grouped test names. A specific test name generally refers to one specific test within RKH. A grouped test name refers to a set, or group, of related tests. Within a group name there are usually one or more specific test names.

To see the current list of test names use the 'rkhunter --list tests' command. The grouped names list will show the specific names that are within the group.

So, for example, the file properties check has the grouped name of 'properties'. However, within that test the file hash value test is known as 'hashes'. Similarly, the file attributes check, which checks the file permissions, uid and gid values, and so on, is known as the 'attributes' test. Note that while it is possible to tell RKH to run the file properties check, but ignore the file hash value test, it is not possible to tell RKH to run the file attributes but to ignore the file permissions checks. RKH has no specific name for the file permissions test, and so it cannot be specifically enabled or disabled.

RKH can be told to enable or disable one or more of the tests by using the '--enable' and '--disable' command-line options. Alternatively, the RKH configuration file options 'ENABLE_TESTS' and 'DISABLE_TESTS' can be used. Note, however, that if either command-line option is used then the configuration file options, for both enabled and disabled tests, are ignored. The program defaults if no options are used at all are to enable all tests and to disable no tests. For this purpose the enable options can use the special test name 'all', and the disable options can use the name 'none'. To specify more than one test name, specify them as a comma-separated list. For example:

 rkhunter --enable 'rootkits,hashes'

Note that in the above example no disabled test list was specified. As such, it will default to the program default value - '--disable none'. If multiple use of the options are given on the command-line, then the last values seen will be used.

The supplied RKH configuration file will have some tests already disabled. These are generally CPU and/or I/O intensive tests, or ones which may be prone to giving false-positive results. They can, of course, be enabled by editing the DISABLE_TESTS list. To run the tests from the command line, either user the '--enable' command-line option with the specified test name, or use either '--enable all' or '--disable none'.

If either of the '--enable' or '--disable' command-line options is used, and the '--propupd' option is not given, then '--check' is assumed.

If the '--enable' option is used and only one test name, other than 'all', is given, then the '--skip-keypress' option is assumed as well. So, for example, to run all the rootkit tests just use:

 rkhunter --enable rootkits

Similarly, to run all the tests except the rootkit tests, then use:

 rkhunter --disable rootkits

In this example RKH will assume the enabled test list of '--enable all'. In the previous example, '--disable none' will have been assumed.

If a combination of enabled and disabled tests are specified, then RKH will disable a test if it is specified in the enable list. So, for example:

 rkhunter --enable 'rootkits,deleted_files' --disable malware

In this example the 'malware' test is disabled because it is part of the 'rootkits' test. The fact that the 'deleted_files' test is specified to be run is ignored, because that is part of the 'malware' test. RKH will always look to see what tests to disable first. It will then run any enabled tests that are left.

By default RKH will log what tests names have been enabled and disabled. Additionally it will log each test name that it is about to execute. When initially run RKH may skip some tests due to missing commands or files. It is usually possible to omit these tests by including them in the DISABLE_TESTS list in the configuration file. The test name associated with these tests can be found by looking in the log file.

It should be noted that not all the tests have been given names. As such some test names may execute more tests than expected. For example:

 rkhunter --enable group_changes

The 'group_changes' test name refers to the check to see if the /etc/group file has been modified. However, running the above command will also cause several tests on the /etc/passwd file to be executed. This is because those tests are part of the 'local_host' grouped test name, as is the 'group_changes' test, but those other tests have no specific names. As such, RKH will start the 'local_host' tests, executing some of the /etc/passwd file tests and then the 'group_changes' test, but ignoring any other tests within 'local_host' which do have specific names (for example, 'filesystem' and 'passwd_changes').


The RKH file properties check, by default, performs a check of various current file properties against those that it has previously stored in the 'rkhunter.dat' file. This way RKH can warn the user if a file has changed. The file properties include items such as the files hash value, file permissions, uid, gid, inode number and so on. The properties are obtained and stored in the rkhunter.dat file when RKH is run with the '--propupd' option.

Typically the file properties are obtained using commands such as 'stat', 'file', 'md5sum' and 'prelink'. However, it is also possible to specify that RKH should get whatever values it can by using a package manager. This can be done by using the '--pkgmgr' command-line option, or the 'PKGMGR' configuration file option. When the RPM package manager is specified, during the file properties check the results from the RPM verification command are used as the test results. For the other package managers, the values from the package manager database are compared against the current values for the files. By using a package manager, it is possible to avoid some false-positive reports that a file has changed when in fact it has been automatically updated by the system.

The currently available package managers are 'RPM' for RedHat/RPM-based systems, 'DPKG' for Debian-based systems, and 'BSD' for *BSD systems. It is also possible to specify 'NONE' to indicate not to use a package manager. The program default is 'NONE'.

Any file which is not part of a package is treated as before, that is, the HASH_FUNC configuration file option, or the '--hash' command-line option, will be used.

It should be noted that all the package managers provide an MD5 hash value for a file. However, the 'RPM' package manager can provide other file property values as well, such as the file permissions, uid, gid, modification time and so on. During the file properties check all of these values will be used, rather than the ones stored in the rkhunter.dat file.

It should also be noted that the 'DPKG' and 'BSD' package manager options only provide the files MD5 hash value. As such, during the file properties check, all the other current file properties will be re-calculated as before, and compared against the values in the rkhunter.dat file. Hence, only the 'RPM' package manager offers any real benefit in using a package manager.

NOTE: It is possible for a package manager database to become maliciously corrupted. To that extent the use of the package manager options with RKH does not provide any increase in security. However, it may result in less false-positive warnings of files which have changed. As always RKH can only report on changes, but not on what has caused the change.


When the '--update' or '--versioncheck' options are used, rkhunter uses a mirror site from the mirrors.dat file to obtain the required information. By default rkhunter will use any mirror listed in the file, and it will then rotate the list of mirrors. At the time of writing the supplied mirrors.dat file lists the Rootkit Hunter SourceForge site as a mirror.

However, it is possible for users to define a local mirror if they wish to. This is done by simply editing the mirrors.dat file and inserting the mirror URL. The line should begin with the text 'local='. For example:


The required rkhunter files must be placed in a location, of the users choice, which is accessible by the clients. So in the above example, the rkhunter data files would have been placed in the 'rkhunter_data' directory. The required files consist of the '.dat' files supplied with rkhunter, and which will have been installed in the database directory. For a default installation this would have been in '/var/lib/rkhunter/db'.

Additionally, the mirror directory must have an 'i18n' sub-directory which contains all the current language translation files for the various versions of rkhunter. Each version is put into its own sub-directory. So, for example, there would be a '1.3.1' sub-directory, a '1.3.2' sub-directory and so on, all within the 'i18n' directory. Again, the database directory will already have had the 'i18n' sub-directory installed in to it, but it will only contain the language files for the current version of rkhunter. There are no version sub-directories installed by default. As such, the mirror will need to have the various version sub-directories created, and the relevant language files put in to them, for the versions of rkhunter that the mirror is required to support. If a client tries to access the language files for a version of rkhunter that is not supported by the mirror, then the download will fail. Depending on how the client is configured, another, possibly remote, mirror may be tried, or rkhunter will give a warning.

Within each rkhunter version sub-directory of the 'i18n' directory, it is necessary to have a file called 'i18n.ver'. This file simply contains a list of the available language files, and their version numbers. For example:


So, as an example, the mirror file structure will need to look similar to this:

|| || || ||
mirrors.dat rkhunter_latest.dat i18n suspscan.dat
1.3.4 ============ 1.3.5 ============ 1.3.6
/ | \ / | \ / | \
/ | \ / | \ / | \
cn en i18n.ver cn en i18n.ver cn en i18n.ver

Finally, if the '--versioncheck' option is to be supported with the local mirror, then the directory, 'rkhunter_data' in the above example, must contain a file called 'rkhunter_latest.dat'. This file must contain the current rkhunter version number (for example, '1.3.0') and no other text.

It is possible to similarly define 'remote' mirrors, which begin with the text 'remote='. At present though there is no real difference between a local or remote mirror.

The supplied mirror site(s) in the mirrors.dat file begin with the text 'mirror=', and this should not be changed.

In order to select whether all the mirrors or only the local or remote mirrors should be used, the rkhunter configuration file has an option in it called 'MIRRORS_MODE'. This option takes a numeric value, which by default is zero. The current values and meanings are:

    0 - use any mirror (the default)
1 - use only local mirrors
2 - use only remote mirrors

To further support local and remote mirrors there are two other configuration options available:

The first is 'UPDATE_MIRRORS', which simply tells rkhunter whether the mirrors.dat file itself should be updated (i.e. overwritten) when the '--update' option is used. If local mirrors are listed in the file then you probably do not want the file automatically updated. The 'UPDATE_MIRRORS' option has a default value of one, indicating that the mirrors.dat file should be updated. Set this option to zero to disable this feature.

The second option is 'ROTATE_MIRRORS'. This tells rkhunter whether it should rotate the list of mirrors whenever the '--update' or '--versioncheck' options are used. Again, with local mirrors you may want these accessed in a specific order, rather than rotated each time. The option has a default value of one indicating that the mirrors should be rotated. Set this option to zero to disable this feature.

By default if a mirror fails for some reason, then rkhunter will use the next mirror, of the configured type, listed in the file. If there are no more mirrors left, then rkhunter will give a warning message.


Creating a new language file to work with rkhunter is quite easy - the actual translating is the hard part! First, it is necessary to find out where the current language files are located. For a default installation this will be in the '/var/lib/rkhunter/db/i18n' directory. If this directory does not exist, then look in the rkhunter log file (usually located in /var/log) and there should be a line similar to 'Using... as the database directory'. Within that directory there should be the 'i18n' sub-directory. Once you have changed to that directory, you should then see the current language files. Next, take a copy of the 'en' language file and name it for your new language. We would suggest that you use something similar to the known ISO 639 language codes. For example, to create a generic French language file, then execute 'cp -p en fr'. Once you have done this, your new language file will be recognised by rkhunter. You can check this by using the command 'rkhunter --list lang'. Note that if you use the 'rkhunter --update' command, the new language file will not be touched in any way. Also note that you must not remove the 'en' file, rkhunter will not work without it.

The next part is to actually translate the messages. Each language file starts with a line containing the version number of that file. The actual messages start with a keyword, which must not be changed at all, followed by a colon (:), and then the actual message. It is the actual message which you need to translate. Some messages may contain variables such as '$1' or '$2'. Again, these must not be changed. Once you have translated the messages you can test them by using the command 'rkhunter --lang fr ...' - substituting 'fr' for whatever name you gave to your language file.

If you want to have your new language translation made available as part of rkhunter, then please submit a feature request on the rkhunter SourceForge web site. However, please be aware that the language file is a fundamental part of rkhunter, and as such is continuously changing. You should endeavour to keep your translation up to date with the current version of rkhunter.


If a problem is found with RKH, it is recommended that users initially try and resolve the problem themselves. This can be done by first checking the FAQ file, which is present in your installation if the distributed tarball is used as source. The FAQ will contain answers to many common problems. The latest version of the FAQ can always be found at RKH's project pages on SourceForge, in the 'Documentation' section.

If the problem has occurred directly after upgrading RKH, then please check the CHANGELOG file. It will contain information about changes made since the previous version of RKH, and may indicate why you are now experiencing a problem.

Users should also check the rkhunter-users mailing list archives (available on the web site). The problem will be investigated by the RKH development team, and, where appropriate, a solution posted on the mailing list. Hence the mailing list archives may well contain a solution to the problem.

Additionally, users should check the RKH tracker system (available at It is quite possible that the problem has already been reported to us as a bug or support request. It is also possible that a fix for the problem has been provided in the tracker log.

Depending upon the nature of the problem it may be worthwhile trying an Internet search (for example using google), to see if anyone else has experienced a similar problem.

Finally, if you have still not found an answer to the problem, then mail it to the rkhunter-users mailing list. Please provide as much information as possible about the problem, but do not make the message excessively long! Information such as your operating system and version of RKH should always be included.

If you are sure the problem is a bug, or want it considered as a support request, then please submit it directly into the tracker system.