posted by Adam S on Wed 25th Sep 2002 02:21 UTC

"Run as Root, General Use, Windows Interaction: SMB/WINE"

Run as Root

Corfirm deletion There have been countless debates in the weeks following the first release of LindowsOS regarding the "Run as Root" issue. To be sure - yes, you run as root by default. Let's, once again, examine context. I understand the *nix construct. And what a great idea! - you run all processes as a normal user, and you only extended your administrative rights on an "as needed" basis. However, this is not necessary what the average user wants.

When I roll away from my desk in my chair just to turn to face someone across my desk, I lock my workstation. But for most people, passwords are a hassle. They don't protect their machines. They want to simply be an admin on their machine. And face it - for most people, security isn't that much of an issue. The main reason to have separate profiles is to keep your own data organized and distinct. "Run as Root" is a Windows carry over to make the transition easier.

At first, I had issues with running as root. I was aware that not only was I at risk security-wise, but I was also in danger of doing something MYSELF to hurt the system. After all, nothing would tell me to su myself and make me think twice.

In fairness, that's not true. Like Windows, LindowsOS will prompt you before deleting items, it will warn you if you are doing something dangerous, and it will hide dot files if you don't choose to view them by default. It's not been all bad.

In addition, not many people have mentioned that although the root user is created and used by default, you are certainly capable of creating and modifying users. LindowsOS is Debian underneath it all and it fully supports permissions and profiles. As seen below, adding a user is a simple process and assigning permissions can be done with a right click in the GUI or the chmod command at the prompt. Will most people know how to do this? No. But I'd ask - do most people want to?

Add userHigh on my LindowsOS wish list is a user management tool, one that might make maintaining users as simple as it is on Red Hat Linux. So, although I'll have my LindowsOS system set up to run as a standard user, I am coming around on the run as root issue.

One downside I've seen though is that even after I created a non-root user, each time I logout, the login menu, which now has an username option (before, it was just a "system password" block), is set to root by default. This is the exact opposite of how most distributions do it. In Linux-Mandrake, for example, root isn't even a selectable choice, you must manually type it in. This is probably a nasty bug that will be ironed out by general release, and certainly not too inconvenient.

General Use

LindowsOS is not without issues. Throughout my LindowsOS experience, I experienced no fewer than 5 "KDE errors" that prompted me to report the problem to KDE.org. Strangely, I never understood what caused these errors, nor did I see any effect on the system. Nonetheless, a new Linux user might believe something serious is going on. I hope by the general release this is remedied.

Self Contained Exe My test system is above average, as I said, a PIII 700. It had 128 MB RAM, and when I had CNR, Limewire, a browser, a shell, and Konquerer file manager open, the system got very slow. A Ctrl+Alt+Del brings up KSysGuard, a task monitor of sorts, which explained that Limewire was eating up almost all of my memory. I'm not sure how to explain this, as I've used Limewire before and never had a problem. Either way, Limewire was definitely the culprit. The problem is, I don't see this as being unreasonable. A typical user might use all of these things. Eventually, I had to use the "Terminate Application" app in the K menu (or "L" menu, in this case) and kill, strangely, Click-N-Run, which hung after the confusion. There is no "kill" option when you right-click an item in the taskbar, so this is your only option. I have to guess that MR and crew assumed that "Kill" was too intense for a Windows migrant, but choosing a more friendly, less violent sounding "Terminate Application" was acceptable. This killed the Kicker bar, but it came back in full functionality.

I find the default fonts to be huge. Checking it out, the are all set to 12. I changed them to 10 and they still look big. I had to turn on anti-aliasing somewhere, but I found an anti-aliasing box in a few places. Why can't Linux fonts be as nice as Windows fonts? These aren't ugly, but they just don't look perfect. Boy, nice fonts should be high on the overall GNU/Linux "want" list.

General use is similar to Windows, but it doesn't present you with an antiquated, Windows 98 looking interface. I found everything to be fairly easy to use, and I even showed one of my non-technical friends who conceded he might be tempted to try LindowsOS despite the fact that my previous Red Hat installations all seemed too complex. I'd say the logical menu layout and application organization is one of the biggest pluses of LindowsOS.

Windows Interaction: SMB/WINE

LindowsOS promised, in its youth, the ability to run Windows applications. In a later incarnation, it merely promised seamless integration into a Windows environment. Lindows doesn't deliver anything revolutionary here, although my luck with it was far quicker than my luck with other Linuxes. In fact, I got it into my network with no text file configuration at all. This is a first for me - every other Linux I've ever used I've needed to edit the smb.conf file significantly.

It's not cake, but it's certainly not difficult. It's harder than necessary to change the name of the Workgroup to which you're joined from "Workgroup," for one. In addition, once you find a computer, it often doesn't display any shares. It was by chance that I manually typed \\WORKGROUP\COMPUTERNAME\C$\DOCUMENTS AND SETTINGS\ADMINISTRATOR\DESKTOP and ended up on my Win2k desktop. I certainly didn't browse to it. That said, most of the tasks I tend to judge in LindowsOS are not necessarily tasks the typical Windows user might attempt. The question becomes, by necessity, is it the "typical" Windows user who will be experimenting with LindowsOS? I haven't gotten the Samba server piece to work yet, but the samba client is flying all over the network.

Now that I was on the network, it was time to take WINE out for a test drive. I grabbed a quick, self-contained executable from my Windows desktop, right-clicked it and chose to open it with WINE.

Boom. Not so much as a flinch and there it was, running off of my Windows machine. Step 2: an application that isn't a single exe file.

Running Windows apps I copied over the pn folder that holds an application called Programmer's Notepad from my Windows Program Files directory and gave it a whirl. No problem. The app works. There are problems rendering, as you can see above. Some of the icons are not displayed properly, you can see the desktop through them. And the tabs, usually lined up above the code, are stacked. The app is "usable," but not perfect. I'm still a little impressed at the lack of effort need to launch it. Step 3: Run IE.

Result: Notsomuch. I never got a result from the launch. In fairness, I didn't copy the files to my LindowsOS machine, I launched it directly from a remote PC using SMB. Perhaps this was the issue. I tried using the Windows install on the same machine. No go with IE. Not go with Word. No go with MS Notepad. Over and over WINE failed, except with tiny, self-contained executables or apps that run entirely in one folder. Expected? Yeah, a little bit. Let down? Yeah, a little bit.

Either way, the important point to make is that with everything functional, I didn't really need any Windows applications. I had Evolution, XMMS (by default), Mozilla, g-FTP, Star Office 6...what else do I need?

Table of contents
  1. "Introduction, Installation, Defaults"
  2. "Configuration, Software Installation"
  3. "Run as Root, General Use, Windows Interaction: SMB/WINE"
  4. "Some Other Points, Conclusion"
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