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Re: Root Access

Smith, Herb wrote:
> I'm sure that all of the warnings about logging on as root are correct,
> and while danger lurks, there seems to be an issue here that could have
> a better solution.  A while back there was a big discussion about
> whether the application names should be listed on the menus for various
> things such as the "document viewer".  It seems that the problem is
> that, yes, there are always ways to accomplish what you need to do at
> the command line through an su to root, but folks that aren't steeped in
> Linux are often unaware of what the necessary commands are.  When you
> run into the problem of requiring root access many are tempted to figure
> that they need to log on as root.  A new user gets caught in a sort of
> Catch 22.  You need root access, but you can't log on as root, and you
> have no idea of how to accomplish that at the command line, or in some
> cases, if it's even possible to do it at the command line.
I think a better way to handle it is the way things are going now -
when you use a GUI tool that requires root access to do part of its
job, you are asked for the root password. Some things will let you
specify how long the root password is good for when using that
program. - one time, this secession, or permanently. (Things like
installing software updates can have permanent permission.)

> I think that if Windoze users had to go to the command line every time
> they needed administrator privledges most people would not have a
> clue...
The number of tasks that require you to go to the command line for
root privileges is getting smaller. I also think it is a form of
protection for new users - if they don't know how to get root
privileges, then they are probably going to need help with what they
want to do anyway. If it is too easy to log in as root, then you are
going to have users develop the same bad habits as Windows users -
running with root or administrator privileges all the time. After
all, it is much easier to run as root, rather then have to enter the
root password, or log in as a root every time you want to change
system settings, or install new software...

> I know that the ultimate solution is an education process, but it would
> seem that there could be a way to facilitate that short of buying
> "Running Linux" from O'Reilly.  "Running Linux" is a fine book, but
> isn't this kind of thing one of the issues that you always hear about
> Linux not being a suitable OS for a non-expert user?
It is kind of like setting up the computer in the first place,
hooking up a home entertainment center, or taking care of a car. If
you can not do it yourself, and you either do not want to read the
instruction manual, or you can not understand it, you have to get
someone to help you.

If anything, I have less problems with people running Linux messing
up their system then I do with Windows users. And the Linux users
are not any more computer geeks then the Windows users. It is just
harder for a user to break a Linux system.

On systems that I set up for friends, I don't normally give them the
root password, or administrator privileges. They have less problems
and I spend less time working on their systems. We all like it that way.


Unfortunately for us, common sense is not very common.

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