Mathieu Avoine avoinemt at gmail.com
Wed Jan 10 19:01:38 UTC 2007

Hi Don,

Not quite sure I understand your question but here's an attempt to answer:

In Ubuntu you don't really "switch to super user" to do administrative
tasks, in opposition to windows where you have to log out and log into the
administrator account. In Ubuntu you usually perform this by invoking "sudo"
in front of the command you want to invoke. Here's an example: let's say you
have to make a modification to a configuration file named "config_file"
under the directory /etc which belongs to "root" (administrator), if you
invoke the following command ("nano" is a text editor like "vi"):

$ nano /etc/config_file

... you will open the file in "read-only" mode; you won't be able to modify
the file because you do not have the permissions to do that. Instead you
will have to invoke it like this:

$ sudo nano /etc/config_file

... you will be asked to enter your password and then you will be able to
edit the file with write permissions and save your modifications. It may not
appear natural at first but you'll get used to it. Installing software will
also require you to use "sudo" and graphical softwares that need to perform
tasks "as root" will prompt you for your password as well. It is the case
with installation software such as "synaptic".

Hope it helps!


On 1/10/07, Don and/or Mila Trombley <donmila at shaw.ca> wrote:
>  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> 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 ) 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
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > ubuntu-ca mailing list
> > ubuntu-ca at lists.ubuntu.com
> > https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-ca
> >
> >
> >
> >
> --
> ubuntu-ca mailing list
> ubuntu-ca at lists.ubuntu.com
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-ca
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.ubuntu.com/archives/ubuntu-ca/attachments/20070110/d6075905/attachment.html>

More information about the ubuntu-ca mailing list