Are file permissions in files on external devices silly?

Andrew Sayers andrew-ubuntu-devel at
Fri Nov 21 16:19:52 UTC 2008

I wouldn't normally comment, but I think it's important to put some
perspective to the earlier argument about users creating noise on the list.

When someone with an address responds to a reasonable
question with a flame like this, without actually suggesting a solution
to the important use case presented, then signal-generating users get
the message that they're not welcome here.  In the end, you wind up with
a list full of noise-generators and curmudgeons like me.

To address the actual point, security of files on removable media can
only be handled at the hardware level, by making sure bad people don't
steal your disks.  Bad guys can be assumed to have root access to at
least one box that they can plug a drive into, so complex permissions
systems on removable media serve only to frustrate ordinary users.

The computing world has historically used FAT(32) as the standard
cross-platform file format, which has the advantage of not supporting
user/group permissions, thereby requiring FS developers to set the
UID/GID to some sensible default.  However, FAT has the disadvantage of
being generally inappropriate to the modern age, so this sort of issue
is likely to be more common in future.  Why not request that "uid=blah"
and "gid=blah" be supported by ext2/3, like it is for vfat?

	- Andrew

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