Are file permissions in files on external devices silly?

tchomby tchomby at
Fri Nov 21 16:53:48 UTC 2008

On Fri, Nov 21, 2008 at 08:40:38AM -0700, Aaron Toponce wrote:
> How would you propose to solve it? Change the permissions on files to
> the person logged in? Add a user account with the matching UID to match
> those found on the files, then log that user in? Change world
> permissions on the file, so everyone can access it? I think you can see
> the silly-ness behind these options.

When the "You can't access these files because you don't have permission" error 
message pops up, it should have a button on it that the user can click that 
would recursively change the ownership of the files to the person logged in, or 
make the files world-readable, or make them readable by some group that the 
user is a member of ("removeable devices" group or something). Basically, 
the error dialog should present the user with the option to work-around 
these permissions, rather than leaving this option hidden in the file 
properties dialog where the user might not know it exists, or if they do 
know they have to go through a few unnecessary mouse clicks every time to 
get to it.

Or alternatively, as someone suggested, maybe the system should not enforce 
file permissions on removeable devices, at least not if the person trying to 
access the files is a local sudo user.

> What your brother doesn't realize, is that when you take files from
> system to system, OS to OS, you're going to encounter these headaches.
> It's just the way these things go.

There's lots of things that were once headaches like this, until someone 
figured out how to make it user friendly.
> What should be expected, is having your brother learn how Linux
> operates. It's always bothered me that just because Windows dumbed down
> the computing experience, means everyone else has to too. When Linux
> starts asking its users to learn a little bit about their operating
> system, such as files permissions, they throw their arms up in disgust,
> saying that they aren't a programmer or advanced computer user. While
> there may be a line to draw on what we should expect from theme, basic
> file permissions, I think, is well behind that line.

First of all, how did my brother get involved in this? Second, what does this 
have to do with Windows? I'm talking about making Ubuntu a bit more usable for 
non-technical users. It would also make it less irritating for people like me, 
who know what to do but would prefer to avoid the extra mouse-clicks. Ubuntu is 
a Gnome-based distribution and aims to be user friendly, this isn't Arch.

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