Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 28th Feb 2012 23:11 UTC
Linux Linus Torvalds on requiring the root password for mundane tasks. "So here's a plea: if you have anything to do with security in a distro, and think that my kids (replace 'my kids' with 'sales people on the road' if you think your main customers are businesses) need to have the root password to access some wireless network, or to be able to print out a paper, or to change the date-and-time settings, please just kill yourself now. The world will be a better place." Yes, it's harsh (deal with it, Finns don't beat around the bush), but he's completely and utterly right. While there's cases where it makes sense to disable certain settings (public terminals, for instance), it is utterly idiotic that regular home users have to type in their root password for such mundane tasks.
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The opposite is also true...
by rklrkl on Tue 28th Feb 2012 23:51 UTC
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It may be "idiotic" to prompt for root's password for mundane tasks, but it's also "equally idiotic" to allow your own unprivileged password to be used to authorise "non-mundane" superuser tasks (particularly the installation/removal of system software).

This is something Ubuntu does via its sudo system and it's 100% wrong - tasks that can significantly change your system installation should require a privileged username/password and not a normal user's! Ubuntu is also dumb for not accepting root's (privileged) password when it prompts for privilege escalation - it only accepts your own (unprivileged - or at least it should be) password!

The very first thing I do on such a broken Ubuntu system is "sudo passwd root", so that I can su to root and do my privileged stuff that way. I don't know if they fixed it in later Ubuntu releases, but if you had to fsck the system disk on bootup of early Ubuntu releases, it would say "enter root password for maintenance" as part of the boot sequence. Genius that, because Ubuntu sets a random root password and never tells you it, ho hum.

Edited 2012-02-28 23:56 UTC

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