Linked by Amjith Ramanujam on Sat 19th Jul 2008 19:01 UTC, submitted by cypress
Linux Linux and UNIX-like operating systems in general are regarded as being more secure for the common user, in contrast with operating systems that have "Windows" as part of their name. Why is that? When entering a dispute on the subject with a Windows user, the most common argument he tries to feed me is that Windows is more widespread, and therefore, more vulnerable. Apart from amusing myths like "Linux is only for servers" or "does it have a word processor?", the issue of Linux desktop security is still seriously misunderstood.
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UltraZelda64
Member since:
2006-12-05

I've been running Windows as a normal user since NT, and it may be tricky sometimes, some times it can be a real PITA, but there hasn't been too much I haven't been able to get working.

Wow. Every time I seriously try to lock down XP, I give up. It's a losing battle. I install XP, and create an Admin account myself, as it requires. Go through the install, switch the log in window to the classic one so I can also select Administrator. Try to change my (admin-level) user account it forced me to create to a Limited User.

"Sorry, you must have at least one other Administrator account to change this one to a Limited User" [paraphrased]

What? Then what the hell is the administrator account aptly-named "Administrator" there for? Looks? Whatever. So I created another admin-level account, named "Admin," and was finally able to change my account created during install to a limited user. After finally making it this far, I find out that I'm able to send system files that I shouldn't even be able to touch to the recycle bin, but when I want to undo that or restore them, access denied--log in as an admin to do that. WTF?

I won't bother going in-depth on all the problems running programs I had as a limited user, but I saw such ridiculous things as Winamp not able to "uninstall" plug-ins. Why? They're just .dlls located in C:\Program Files\Winamp... off-limits. If there were a "home" directory concept in Windows, each user could add and remove their own plug-ins, but no. I understand why this is, but it all boils to single-user design decisions which should be stuck in the past and each program storing all of its files in its own directory... yet... they're still dragging Windows down.

It was after this XP test install that I decided to finally re-partition my hard drive and re-install my Linux-distro-of-choice on it by itself (previously set as the default of a dual-boot setup). Needless to say, after install, I was running everything I wanted as a normal user, with root locked away for system changes, with no stupid WTF moments like XP's you-can-delete-but-not-restore crap.

Edited 2008-07-20 05:01 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 10

Arawn Member since:
2005-07-13

Hmm, I think that "downgrading" own account from administrator to limited is not the correct way to go, and actually agree that you shouldn't be able to do it.

The simple answer to your predicament is logon as Administrator, change your account from administrator to limited, and then you will only have Administrator and your account (as limited) to log on. I've done that tens of times.

Reply Parent Score: 2

BluenoseJake Member since:
2005-08-11

"Sorry, you must have at least one other Administrator account to change this one to a Limited User" [paraphrased]"

Of course it says that, you need ONE administrator account. You just create your own user as a normal user, not administrator, do not downgrade it. Do all your installs as the "real " administrator, then use your "normal" account for day to day stuff. Runas is there if you need it.

Reply Parent Score: 1

UltraZelda64 Member since:
2006-12-05

Of course it says that, you need ONE administrator account. You just create your own user as a normal user, not administrator, do not downgrade it. Do all your installs as the "real " administrator, then use your "normal" account for day to day stuff. Runas is there if you need it.

The point is, there already *is* an Administrator account of the same name, and has been for a long time now. I remember quite clearly (a million times over) being asked by the installer what I wanted to make my Administrator password. Why should I litter my system with redundant "administrators" just because the installer sets one up that apparently the "users" control panel applet doesn't seem to even know exists? Why is Administrator "hidden" by default to begin with, when in fact the first user you create is an admin itself? "Security" reasons? LOL. I'm sorry, but none of this makes any sense, and quite literally--it's inexcusable, downright *bad* design. It seems like a joke.

Edited 2008-07-20 20:22 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

google_ninja Member since:
2006-02-05

There is a home directory concept for per user data, it is called AppData. You should have sent the winamp guys a nasty email explaining to them the insanity of not developing software in a least priviledged environment, and asking them to please use what has been considered best practice for almost a decade now.

The way to work around badly written software is to grant your user write access to the folder that you need to write to. Yeah, it sucks and is messy, but it is way better then the alternative. I can't even imagine running windows as an admin all the time.

Edited 2008-07-20 22:51 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

Angel Blue01 Member since:
2006-11-01

How about right-clicking and selecting Run As (not a great workaround)?

I agree its annoying that Windows 5.x forces you to create at least one other administrator level account in addition to the hidden Administrator account which IMO should stay hidden!

As far as plug-ins, that's a problem by the developers of Winamp, creating a system-wide program and allowing plug-in writers to wrap their binaries in installable executables, same thing with a lot of games.

Reply Parent Score: 1

melkor Member since:
2006-12-16

Windows has a home directory - c:\documents and settings...

The problems that you describe are down to crappy programming from 3rd party software vendors. Nothing more, and nothing less.

Dave

Reply Parent Score: 2

gustl Member since:
2006-01-19

Yeah - and if you are not from an english speaking country you have two home directories:

"C:\documents and settings" and "C:\Dokumente und Einstellungen"

Consistency is a NIH (Not Invented Here) problem for Microsoft.

On my Linux install (German, subregion Austria) the home directory is still called /home/myusername/ despite being german.

Some things are not meant to be translated, and a filesystem layout for the essential parts of the operating system is definitely one of those things.

Reply Parent Score: 3

voidspace Member since:
2008-06-25

"If there were a "home" directory concept in Windows"

There is. If Winamp doesn't use it then that is its failing not the OS's.

Reply Parent Score: 1