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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Adding a printer
Might require access to another driver besides the default one. Which if not installed, will need to be installed thus opening a security exploit, depending on the source of the driver binary.

Agreed installing software should require enhanced security; but, if the user is happy using a pre-installed driver, or a generic driver, why shouldn't he?

Attaching to a new wireless network
It exposes the computer to a another network. Depending on the wireless security settings, another exploit vector might now be open to the world.

I've hit this problem before, but never with plugging in a new Ethernet cable. Since functionally they both have the same potential problems (access to a new possible compromised network), why should one require root password and the other not?

Changing system time
Many OS services/daemons depend on the current time and take decisions based on time. Every time you change system time, it might have unexpected consequences on system behavior.

I believe his specific query was changing the time-zone, this would not affect any services, but is a common use case for users of laptops who travel (especially in the US where I understand there are all sorts of places where crossing a county line changes from daylight saving to mean time

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