Vote for new Ubuntu Feature---Let's try it again --- and without getting all religious about it

Florian Diesch diesch at
Sat Jan 13 02:15:59 UTC 2007

Chanchao <custom at> wrote:

>> The Unix security model has evolved over the past twenty, thirty years and 
> Why are so many people getting so religious over a basic usability
> comment/request. 
> Case: He's opened a file in gedit or Writer or something else and made a
> change to it.  The file happens to be on a drive/partition/folder that
> for whatever reason isn't writable.  This happens all the time, not just
> system config files, but also it happens all the time with files on
> shared Windows drives/partitions, memory sticks and so on.  It HAPPENS. 

IMHO that's a usability problem of your editor. Good editors (like
e.g. vim or emacs; I think there are other too)) tell you that the file
is r/o *before* you make changes.

> All the man says is that at this point he prefers not to have to save
> this file somewhere where he can save it, exit the application, use
> gksudo to open it again, re-apply the changes, save again. 
> Instead he'd like to have a clear error message indicating the file he's
> editing is protected, AND have that very same window give him the
> *option* to authenticate as administrator and continue the logical
> workflow.   

There are at least two problems here:
 1) To get this behaviour you have to change the application and do some
    dirty tricks to get a process with root privileges and hand it over
    the data to save. To be consistent you have to change *all* the
    code where a file is written in *all* applications. That's a lot of
    work to do that will be missing somewhere else and is likely to
    cause some trouble somewhere.
    Changing a low level lib like libc would be less work but is even
    more difficult (as e.g. you have to find out how to ask the user
    for a password, you have to avoid recursion, ...) and error prone.

    In short: From a technical point of view this is a very bad idea.

 2) It's annoying for users who can't get root privileges and
    inconsistent in cases where even root can't write the file (e.g. 
    r/o media).


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