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Old 12-15-2010, 04:24 PM   #1
Redwoodguy
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Can One Disable Passwords and Security?


I use Ubuntu on my netbook, which I uses for browsing and email. It's way faster than the Windows which came on the machine. That's a nice feature, as is the price.

I like it except for the constant, perpetual, ever-present, super-annoying need to be entering passwords and "becoming root user" and so on. I am the only one using this appliance. I don't even care if someone steals it, really. There must be some way (I hope) of disabling this idea that I am a CIA agent with TopSecret materials.

I just want a simple, easy to use appliance. If not Ubuntu, is there any distro that is aimed at normal people?
 
Old 12-15-2010, 04:32 PM   #2
snowpine
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You never need to enter your password for everyday "user" tasks like surfing the web, listening to music, etc., only when you need to perform a task as "root" such as installing software, editing system-wide configurations, etc.

You've probably heard "Linux is more stable and secure than Windows." Separating the user and root accounts is one of the biggest reasons why this is true. It also has the secondary benefit of reminding you that the task you're about to perform has potentially system-breaking consequences. I do not recommend turning this important feature off.

Last edited by snowpine; 12-15-2010 at 04:35 PM.
 
Old 12-15-2010, 04:32 PM   #3
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you could hit ctrl+alt+backspace, then type logout, then login there as root, then type startx to start a session as root. This will keep you from having to enter admin passwords. Very bad to do this though, since you can inadvertently cripple your system by deleting or modifying the wrong file by accident (root gets full access to do these things), even if you don't have any files you want protected from access.

Not sure how ubuntu handles it's users though, so I couldn't tell you how to automatically log in as root all the time.
 
Old 12-15-2010, 04:47 PM   #4
impert
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It is possible to set automatic login (System>Administration>Login
Screen). It is also possible to set a blank password (or so I believe - I would never do it) But why stop there? Why not just leave your netbook on a bus?
As anyone here will tell you, the passwords and other security features are there for a reason - no, several reasons. Because of them Linux will never challenge Windows' 100% monopoly of infected computers. They are also the best safeguard against yourself. No offense, we are all our computers' worst enemies. And after a while, entering a password becomes automatic, your fingers fly over the keyboard, and it's no longer a pain.
If you still want to use an automatic, always-root distribution, you might try Puppy Linux. It's designed with speed and light weight as priorities, and it's still more secure than Windows AFAIK.
As for the CIA's Top Secret stuff: a lot of it doesn't seem all that secret any more, does it?
 
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Old 12-15-2010, 05:49 PM   #5
Redwoodguy
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I fail to see what my logging in and out with a password has to do with getting infected, or other things that affect Windows computers. On my Ubuntu OS, I am called a "user," and I am also the owner and administrator. All I want to do, is acknowledge "in fact" to the OS, that those two ROLES are ONE PERSON - me. What does that have to do with ruining my computer, or accidentally deleting a file? I AM THE SAME HUMAN BEING when I an "user," as when I am the "root user!" e.g. My "software update" goes off all the time, and then I have to enter a password in order to update the software. Again, there aren't "two people" using this PC, only one - me!

Anyway, one viable answer was Puppy Linux, which I will look into. Thanks all.
 
Old 12-15-2010, 06:08 PM   #6
frieza
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you can set auto login or login with out a password but there is a reason for the separation of privileges

it's not you as a person necessarily that isn't trustworthy it's the software you run such as skype, firefox, limewire etc..

any software program you run has the same permission to access your system as the user account that runs it

if you are running as a normal user, the program runs with the limited priveleges of that user

if run by root, the program has full root access to do whatever the heck it wants


if the program is compromized by a hacker/virus/malware, that virus/hacker/malware also has the same permission as the program that is infected, hence if a program running as root is compromised by a hacker, the hacker thus gets root access to your computer

this is one of the reasons linux is as stable as it is, when used properly (as a normal user) viruses/spyware/malware can at worst infect/torch your home directory, not the whole system

windows vista even uses a similar half baked implementation of this type of philosophy, but if you don't care you can always look into a distribution that lets you log in as root or how to modify your distro to let you log in as root

Last edited by frieza; 12-15-2010 at 06:10 PM.
 
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Old 12-15-2010, 06:09 PM   #7
snowpine
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You're new to Linux. Give it some time and you will learn to appreciate why it is set up that way. It takes a lot less time to type a password than to reinstall a borked system.

Ubuntu is "Linux for Human Beings" and a lot of thought and effort has been put into making things work the way they work. I would suggest this Ubuntu Wiki page to learn more about Ubuntu's default security policy: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RootSudo

ps Even Windows now separates the user account from the administrator account. It is just good common-sense practice.
 
Old 12-15-2010, 06:57 PM   #8
eSelix
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With visudo tool you can edit sudo permissions, such as running applications under root account without entering password. It can be done with NOPASSWD clause. More info with "man sudoers". But, as mentioned by others, this is very bad idea. Just because you realy don't need a root permissions in normal operations.
 
Old 12-16-2010, 10:06 AM   #9
Redwoodguy
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Thanks for the replies. I learned that the security also protects against outside programs taking over as Root. I thought it was simply to protect me from myself - which is annoying. Reading the link to the security wiki (thanks snowpine) however, reminds me of all the reasons I don't generally like messing with computers. (Messing with is distinguished here from "using.") It's also clear that a fundamental underlying strategy in Linux is that PC's are not in fact personal devices, but community devices designed to be used by many people, and have an expert to administrate their maintenance.

I think that is a flawed concept, but I am just a user. I've owned about 20 "personal computers" and not a one of them was used by "other people". I am sure it's different for everyone else, who are all sharing their personal computers with groups of people. It's a good thing TVs, stoves and cars are not subject to this kind of thinking. I am not part of the computer industry and have no influence, but I think it would be a boon to normal people if the industry would conceive of a PC as an appliance, and the user as a person who wants the appliance utility, not the hobby of maintaining the appliance. I put 100,000 miles on my last car and I never opened the hood once! Perhaps we need a sort of "OilStop" for PCs. Slide through, let a few grease monkeys tune it up, slide back out with a fresh PC.

Again, thanks for the informed replies. I suppose I'll just go back to be annoyed with the device.
 
Old 12-16-2010, 10:37 AM   #10
snowpine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redwoodguy View Post
It's also clear that a fundamental underlying strategy in Linux is that PC's are not in fact personal devices, but community devices designed to be used by many people, and have an expert to administrate their maintenance.
must type password to administer system = "expert"???
 
Old 12-16-2010, 10:39 AM   #11
TobiSGD
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That would be the same as "Click on the UAC-button in Windows = expert".
 
Old 12-16-2010, 10:41 AM   #12
lazlow
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Redwoodguy

Maybe Linux is just not for you. Many people change their own oil in their vehicles. That is just the way they are. Obviously you are not that type. It sounds like to me you would be a great fit for a Mac.

If you are in the US, Best Buy has a computer service such as you describe, something geeks. They have a similar reputaion as the qucik change oil places.
 
Old 12-16-2010, 10:49 AM   #13
Redwoodguy
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Cool

Quote:
Originally Posted by snowpine View Post
must type password to administer system = "expert"???
Well, it can't be both ways, can it? If the "root" must be protected because of all the "dumb things" a user might accidentally do, then I suppose the implications is that those things should be left to an expert. Furthermore, in my limited Ubuntu experience, many features which don't work - drivers and what not - have to be installed via the Terminal. Go on any Linux support board, and see all sorts of code (or Unix commands) which is passed along to the user to "fix things." I think knowing the Unix BASH (or whatever it is called) is an experts job. Why on earth would I want to learn that in order to browse the web, or type an email, or play a song? I am not asked to go inside the uProcessor in my stove to make changes when a recipe doesn't turn out right, right?

We are moving in the wrong direction. Phones have become 100X more complex to use, not simpler - to name one obvious example. Yes, they are more powerful, but the added power comes with direct increases in the expertise required to tap the power. That's poor engineering conceptually. I do understand the hobby of playing with computers - so I get that. But not everyone wants that hobby. It would be great if there was a product for people who only want the utility. Yeah, that was Apple's claim, but of course it was simply a bogus claim. (insert a smiley face here, please)
 
Old 12-16-2010, 11:18 AM   #14
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redwoodguy View Post
I am not asked to go inside the uProcessor in my stove to make changes when a recipe doesn't turn out right, right?
Now, but you are supposed to know how your kitchenware works, if you want to cook, don't you? And that is true for an expert cook, or if you simply want to make an omelette.

Solution for you: Don't use Linux. Go for an Apple, as already suggested. You will get an OS that is preinstalled and fitted to your hardware.
Or install Windows on your PC, and if something don't work and you ask for help on a forum you will be advised to click in dialogs, that you have never seen before, because they are not necessary for browsing the web and therefore considered for experts.

I think you don't get the point: A computer isn't a toaster, although you want it to be one. If you work as user that has all rights to do everything, you will still be a user with an expert role, and with this you can do harm to other people, may it be your computer being hijacked to send spam, or worse, your computer being hijacked for doing attacks on other computers, or for deploying child porn, or, or, or.
That is not the case with your toaster or oven, so you don't need to know more.

By the way, if you don't want a cell phone with all the options you mentioned, then don't buy one. There are still the phones available that can do nothing besides phoning and write an SMS.
 
Old 12-16-2010, 11:28 AM   #15
snowpine
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Redwoodguy View Post
Well, it can't be both ways, can it? If the "root" must be protected because of all the "dumb things" a user might accidentally do, then I suppose the implications is that those things should be left to an expert.
Close, but not quite... the implication is that user tasks should be separated from root tasks. You don't need to be an expert to do this, you just need to be able to type your password accurately.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redwoodguy View Post
Furthermore, in my limited Ubuntu experience, many features which don't work - drivers and what not - have to be installed via the Terminal. Go on any Linux support board, and see all sorts of code (or Unix commands) which is passed along to the user to "fix things." I think knowing the Unix BASH (or whatever it is called) is an experts job.
Ubuntu has a GUI solution to just about any task. However, there is a reason why you see terminal commands used so frequently on support forums. If you are trying to explain to someone 2,000 miles away how to accurately and quickly accomplish a given task, which method would you choose?

A. Go to the System menu. Choose Administration, then Fraggles. Click the Reload button. Click the Yellow Fraggle tab. Check the checkbox next to Gobo Fraggle. Click Apply.

B. Copy and paste the following command into the Terminal: sudo apt-get install gobo

Again, you don't need to be an expert to follow these instructions, you simply need to understand how to copy and paste text.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Redwoodguy View Post
Why on earth would I want to learn that in order to browse the web, or type an email, or play a song?
I've never required the terminal or my root password to accomplish any of those everyday tasks.
 
  


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