Is there a method to set up an upstart script to execute a user-space program without keeping root privileges, but so the user which has directory/permissions-based ownership of the program can stop/start while still having the program start at boot time?
Yes, with sudo:
-u + username start the program as that user.
Proper solution in 12.04 is using user jobs. Those jobs live in each user's
By default, Upstart jobs have no environment set except what is defined in the job. You can circumvent that by exec'ing via