What is NX/XD feature ?

Solution Verified - Updated -


  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.
  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.


  • What is NX/XD feature ?
  • How to check whether NX/XD is enabled ?
  • How to enable or disable NX/XD?


  • NX/XD is a hardware cpu feature which is provided in almost all the hardware. Some BIOS has advanced option of enabling or disabling it.

  • NX stands for No eXecute and XD stands for eXecute Disable. Both are same and is a technology used in processors to prevent execution of certain types of code.

Checking the status

  • If the cpu has this feature it is enabled by default , Unless it is over-ridden by noexec=off parameter.


To check whether the feature is enabled on the system check the boot messages either from /var/log/messages or from dmesg .

  • From the /var/log/messages file:
# cat /var/log/messages | grep "Execute Disable"
Feb 20 23:20:41 localhost kernel: NX (Execute Disable) protection: active
  • From the dmesg command:
# dmesg | grep "Execute Disable"
[    0.000000] NX (Execute Disable) protection: active

It is possible for both /var/log/messages and dmesg to have enough messages that the initial boot messages have disappeared or been rotated in which case the message will not be visible. As a workaround you can also try checking /var/log/dmesg and in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 only, you can use journalctl -b | grep 'Execute Disable'.


The NX bit status boot messages are not present in RHEL-6/RHEL-5.

  • To check whether or not the CPU supports the nx feature, check /proc/cpuinfo for the nx flag:
# cat proc/cpuinfo | grep nx | uniq
flags       : fpu vme de pse tsc msr pae mce cx8 apic sep mtrr pge mca cmov pat pse36 clflush dts mmx fxsr sse sse2 ss ht syscall nx rdtscp lm constant_tsc arch_perfmon pebs bts xtopology tsc_reliable nonstop_tsc aperfmperf unfair_spinlock pni pclmulqdq ssse3 cx16 pcid sse4_1 sse4_2 x2apic popcnt aes xsave avx hypervisor lahf_lm ida arat epb pln pts dts


Although we do not recommend you disable NX/XD, it is possible to explicitly enable or disable the feature using the noexec kernel option. From the kernel source documentation:

noexec      [X86]
        On X86-32 available only on PAE configured kernels.
        noexec=on: enable non-executable mappings (default)
        noexec=off: disable non-executable mappings

For instructions on how to modify kernel parameters, please check the following solution:

How to manually modify the boot parameter in grub before the system boots

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