Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 5th May 2008 21:00 UTC
OSNews, Generic OSes Ever since I started using computers, I've been baffled by the relative clumsiness of installing applications. Whether we are talking the really old days (launching the Rambo game off a tape), the '90s (running Keen or using installers in Windows 95), or the modern days (still those installers, but now also package management and self-contained applications); it's all relatively cumbersome, and they all have their downsides. I decided to put my money where my mouth is, and come up with my idealistic, utopian method of installing, running, updating, and uninstalling applications.
Thread beginning with comment 313044
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
WereCatf
Member since:
2006-02-15


Not all programs require root privileges. Then, why not allow users to do "apt-get install whatever" and it goes to their directory until the program is superseded by a system wide installation?


I have wondered about the same thing myself. But I guess it all boils down to the fact that people expect only two kinds of users to install software: system admins or users who own the computer. The truth is however that there are also people who don't have the root password but might still wish to install something additional. Such users could f.ex. be your children.

So yeah, I basically like your idea. All the files and folders should however go under a single folder in the users' home, like f.ex. /home/user/Applications and of course everything should be owned by the user and writable only by that user. Oh, and yes, the system admin should still be allowed to choose which users are allowed to install software this way. In corporate environments for example it's often preferred that users are not allowed to install anything but instead ask the admin for that.

Reply Parent Score: 2

steviant Member since:
2006-01-11

Most of the stuff kids are going to want to install will run in Wine, which handles installing crap applications inside a users home directory just fine.

Reply Parent Score: 1

benob Member since:
2008-05-03

I wish I was a kid ;-)

The "ask the admin" approach usually takes some time and gives the admins a bad reputation of being not very responsive.

If not in an environment where installing an application may compromise security and should be prohibited, there is a clear benefit in letting the user do basic administration tasks (installing stuff). Debian-style package management makes this possible because installing something is designed to be a zero hassle operation. However, the neat thing about being superuser to install stuff is that it keeps the applications clean and working. A similar approach should be used by not giving the user actual write rights in his app folder, but using a setuid mechanism so that only the package manager can do that.

Reply Parent Score: 1

bogomipz Member since:
2005-07-11

If programs are organized as AppDirs, and they are not allowed to rely on being installed in a specific location in the file system hierarchy, this may be achieved simply by unzipping the app wherever you prefer. No need for installers at all.

The trick with Thom's attributes idea, is that you can still query installed applications even if no installer was used to put them there.

Oh, and yes, the system admin should still be allowed to choose which users are allowed to install software this way. In corporate environments for example it's often preferred that users are not allowed to install anything but instead ask the admin for that.

Unix security has a very simple way to do this. Just mount the home partition as noexec. There simply is no way you can stop the user from putting a binary in his home directory, but noexec makes sure that no user installed files can be executed.

Reply Parent Score: 2