Don and/or Mila Trombley donmila at shaw.ca
Wed Jan 10 18:35:42 UTC 2007

Mathieu Avoine wrote:

> Thanks for the addendum Peter. I don't know Don and/or Mila's 
> background in computers but I feel they may be uncomfortable with the 
> many "buzz words" and commands you used to explain the security 
> matters with Linux. Since other people on the list that are very new 
> to linux may be interested, I will add comments to some details.
Thank you very much for your kind thoughts (especially the ""buzz 
words"")  in this regard... defending my situation. I have been involved 
with computers for a lo-o-ong time, since the latter '70s., having grown 
up with MS-DOS,, then advancing to Windows,(trying to learn how to make 
Windows do what I want, without causing me a LOT of heart aches, losing 
all of my previous work, and starting all over again! which is now a bit 
of a déja vu with Linux Xubuntu  (this is the fourth time I have to 
erase the OS and reload, due to my ignorance, because I did not know the 
commands for (exiting) the program, thinking as in Windowss, I did 
something which I cannot get out of) and, now have two desktop machines, 
and have always been interested in learning how to control and/or create 
my own programs, but did not '_/have the time or the "will" to do so/_'. 
So, now I am trying to do just that.

> First I would suggest a (small) bit of reading in Wikipedia where the 
> command "su" and "sudo" are explained in slightly simpler terms:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Su_%28Unix%29 
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Su_%2528Unix%2529>
> Secondly, I think it is important to say that using a tighter security 
> model in our operating system helps us protect our system (from 
> potential intruders) by "layering" access to different kinds of 
> resources. In other words, it dramatically "slows down hackers", 
> considered that the so called hacker does not have the root password 
> for your machine, in which case your computer is wide open. However, 
> it does not prevent you from trashing important stuff and because of 
> how Ubuntu is configured by less experienced people (including me!), 
> users have the right to do "sudo" at will. In other words, it won't 
> prevent you from erasing your xorg configuration file, you'll just 
> have to enter  "sudo" and your own password before you do.
> Lastly, it is important to mention that Windows also has its own 
> security model which is much less restrictive but very similar (in 
> some ways) to linux: you can create administrator and user accounts, 
> which allows a simple security model for less experienced users. It 
> also offers advanced security options (that 99% of people don't use, 
> either because they don't know it exists or it's too complicated to 
> understand) that allows an administrator to put rather fine boundaries 
> to prevent other users from trashing the machine.
> That's about it. Hope it helped you understand the differences between 
> windows and linux on this aspect.
> Math
BTW: In entering as a "new system", I entered as "oem". When do I 
switched over from this to "Super User"?

> On 1/10/07, *Peter Whittaker * <pwwnow at gmail.com 
> <mailto:pwwnow at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     On Mon, 2007-01-08 at 09:55 -0800, Don and/or Mila Trombley wrote:
>     > I am wondering if one can get into or load Xubuntu, as a new system,
>     > without having to put in a System administrator name, and
>     Password, for
>     > now, considerring  that I do not wish to put it on-line, until I am
>     > fairly able to understand how the system works i.e.
>     as  an  'open' root
>     > w/o password, Then, later, Lock the System when I am ready to
>     connect it
>     > to the Internet, or as a private network?
>     Rather than being add-ons or after thoughts, passwords and permissions
>     are an integral part of a Linux system: They *are* how things work.
>     To really understand how to use and administer a modern Linux distro,
>     one really should work through sudo and su: Set up a user account,
>     enable a root password, and do your thing. When you run into problems,
>     one of the first questions to ask will be "what permissions are
>     required
>     to do this thing?" You will learn an awful lot working that way.
>     This isn't pedagogy by repeatedly banging your head against the wall,
>     it's getting used to working with an OS with a security model. It
>     may be
>     frustrating at first, but you'll be glad you did it that way in
>     the end.
>     One of the things that led to Windows dominating the world
>     (https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1
>     <https://launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1>) is the lack of security model:
>     Anyone could do anything at any time! This made is easy to get things
>     done, since there were absolutely no impediments to adding,
>     modifying or
>     deleting files, adding or removing software, etc.
>     Wow, greased skids!
>     Of course, that led to viruses, spyware, and a host of other problems:
>     Since there was no security model, anyone could anything....
>     The Linux (and Unix) model of restricted permissions protects us from
>     "the others" (at least to a certain extent).
>     This model also protects us from ourselves! As a regular user, you
>     cannot accidentally install something in the wrong place, accidentally
>     delete the wrong thing, accidentally run the wrong thing, etc.
>     Running as root is the wrong thing to do, because it encourages bad
>     habits: Rather than learning about Linux, a "run as root" user is
>     treating their Linux box like a Windows box, and is going to destroy
>     something sooner or later.
>     So set a root password, learn to use su and sudo (you'll need to
>     visudo
>     to set up sudoers to give yourself proper sudo permissions before you
>     can usefully use sudo), and work within the model: It works.
>     Now here's your "snatch the pebble from my hand" puzzle: I want to
>     append some file system information to /etc/fstab; why doesn't the
>     following work when running as a regular user (albeit one with sudo
>     privileges)?
>         $ sudo echo '/dev/hda3 /hda3 ext3 defaults 0 0' >> /etc/fstab
>         $ sudo mount -a
>     ??? For bonus points, describe at least four other ways to do
>     this, from
>     the command line, only one of which uses an editor, and only one of
>     which uses su.
>     Don't you love Linux? :->
>     pww
>     --
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>     ubuntu-ca at lists.ubuntu.com <mailto:ubuntu-ca at lists.ubuntu.com>
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