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Old 12-17-2010, 11:31 AM   #31
snowpine
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Redwood, check out BrowserLinux:

http://www.browserlinux.com/

It's got a web browser and nothing else, you're always the root user, and you'll never be prompted for updates. Plus it is very fast (based on Puppy) so it should FLY on your netbook.

I think you and I just are very different "use cases." I am glad Linux has all the "advanced" features; that's why I specifically chose it over Windows or Mac as my main OS.

Fortunately, there are hundreds of Linux distros, and I bet you can find one that fits your needs (IF you decide that's the direction you want to go). Ubuntu is definitely a fast-moving, full-featured distro with all the "bells and whistles" and I think your forgivable mistake was not realizing that before you installed it.

Last edited by snowpine; 12-17-2010 at 11:39 AM.
 
Old 12-17-2010, 11:54 AM   #32
jay73
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To disable update prompts, go to Administration > Software Sources > Updates and enable automatic updates; under "release upgrades", select "never" or "long term support releases only".

Stick with the current long term support release (10.04); it will be good for another two years and a half.

And of course, things breaking after fundamental upgrades is not specific to linux. I remember plenty of hardware no longer working after vista was released. Win7 is better in that respect - until you get yourself brand new hardware, then you are back to slipstreaming your cd/dvd or downloading and installing all kinds of drivers manually.

Oh yes, and since you mention the kindle. Not too long ago, amazon simply deleted copies of 1984 by George Orwell because of some copyright infringement. Buyers were not asked whether they agreed, it just happened. And there is the difference: do you want to own something that you pay for but that is in many ways still owned by the seller or do you want to have any say of your own?

Last edited by jay73; 12-17-2010 at 12:05 PM.
 
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Old 12-17-2010, 10:18 PM   #33
Redwoodguy
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Many of you aren't attempting to understand what I want. Rather, you are trying to convince me to want what YOU want! That's fine, and very humorous too! But, it misses the point. Obviously I am not crazy. Look at the massive success of iPOD, Kindle and now iPAD. If you consider them as a "baby version" of what I want, you can see that the premise of those successes is much farther toward my appliance model, than your SwissKnife model.

As for the malevolent behavior of others who might grab my computer - - nah, that's a weak argument. Computers are everywhere, and whatever a guy could do by stealing mine, he can do with his own.

I have several friends who earn their living as designers using PCs. They are adults, not kids. I've asked them all how many times they dress up their browser buttons and choose new icons and change colors of b/g and change color of lines and diddle with all those features. Not a single person in that group does that stuff. Nor do any of them want to code in the terminal window, nor are any of them programmers, or hacks, nor do they enjoy "changing their own oil" on their PC. Those are people who aren't posting here - - of course. So, this slice of humanity here on this board consists of all people who DO like, enjoy and want all that control. In short, this is a skewed audience towards computer SW/HW professionals (I assume) and those with that avocation. I think if you get out and talk to adults who use computers and aren't programmers, you will all be surprised by what they do and don't do.

As to why this appliance hasn't appeared, it is tempting to say, "No demand = no supply." However, I think that is false. I think the product doesn't exist because it is too hard to engineer. It would require a quantum leap, and that hasn't occurred yet. Windows is 30 years old. Mac OS is 25 years old. Unix is 50 years old. These are patched up behemoths of an era which soon will be called "by-gone." My first PC in 1983 was DOS and everyone was doing Word Perfect and Multiplan and dBase and the big deal was all these business applications from disparate vendors. I could care less about any of that junk with a netbook appliance. I use a browser - period. I use Googledocs, google mail, and a browser. Inside the browser I play videos. Ok, maybe add an MP3 function. But the rest of the application world is a big "yawn" for me with that kind of box. My wife - same thing. I doubt we are alone. The people I know who bought iPAD are already itching for a keyboard (well, of course). I have several other computers if I need to run big applications. But I sure don't want to run "GIMP" on a 10" screen, and I am not going to type up WORD documents on a little keyboard. They guys who came up with netbook hardware ALMOST had a brilliant idea - if only they could create the right OS. BTW, even the Ubuntu people sort of half-realised that a netbook ought to have its own OS, when they ginned up the netbook version of the GUI. Problem was, they simply didn't go far enough. It was all GUI and no guts.

Thanks for the great comments fellas. I do realize we are on different wavelengths!
 
Old 12-18-2010, 01:04 AM   #34
w1k0
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Redwoodguy,

it’s sad to state that on the third page of the present thread but the most of the above discussion is pointless. Assuming the system security isn’t crucial for you there is no reason to upgrade the applications. The upgrade could be necessary only if you change some hardware components. As far as you use the same machine you can stay with the same system and applications.

As for system configuration Ubuntu and its derivatives require first user’s password which is the same as root’s password. So if you don’t like to type all those sudo commands followed by your password you can use sudo su - command just once. In result you’ll gain root’s privileges and you’ll able to use those commands without sudo prefixes and password prompts.

If you’re really brave computer’s user you could login to the system as root using first user’s password. Someone above advised you to set empty password for root. Maybe it’s funny idea but it isn’t reasonable at all.

In fact privileged access to the system is necessary at the very beginning during the system setup. Later you can browse the Web, watch the movies and listen to the music as you like. Since the system configuration is the part of work you don’t like simply ask someone to setup your system for you and then just use it.
 
Old 12-18-2010, 03:49 AM   #35
rich_c
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Something that hasn't really been touched on is that all computer users have a responsibility to everyone else on the internet to take their machine's security seriously and not try to bypass sensible built in measures. Here's why.

What happens to just about every machine that gets pwned? It gets turned into a bot of some sort, either spewing out spam or worse! So, to the OP and anyone else that thinks it's a good idea to try to circumvent basic security - don't! It's not just your own machine you're putting at a degree of risk! Whether you like it or not, general purpose computers are powerful tools that require a degree of skill to keep running optimally and securely. They are not appliances or toys.
 
Old 12-18-2010, 04:01 AM   #36
nigelc
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Ditto to all the above comments.
You could try puppylinux which does not have passwords i.e it runs as root.

http://puppylinux.org/main/Overview%...%20Started.htm


cheers
 
Old 12-19-2010, 04:09 PM   #37
Redwoodguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rich_c View Post
Something that hasn't really been touched on is that all computer users have a responsibility to everyone else on the internet to take their machine's security seriously and not try to bypass sensible built in measures. Here's why.

What happens to just about every machine that gets pwned? It gets turned into a bot of some sort, either spewing out spam or worse! So, to the OP and anyone else that thinks it's a good idea to try to circumvent basic security - don't! It's not just your own machine you're putting at a degree of risk! Whether you like it or not, general purpose computers are powerful tools that require a degree of skill to keep running optimally and securely. They are not appliances or toys.
A few short comments about this post.

Imagine for a moment that in your comment about "general purpose computers....requiring skill....etc" you were referring instead to access to a library. It would be patently absurd, right? Forgetting programmers for a moment, real people - say me, for instance - use computers to obtain, process, and distribute knowledge and information. It's handier than paper and carrier pigeons. Your comments are an attempt to build and endorse a class of "technoratti" who must have the Skills of the Wizard (and other priestly nonsense) before using these computers. A "constriction" of knowledge. That's generally the exact OPPOSITE goal of technology in society. You do realize that right? The philosophical goals of a technologically advancing society are democratization of information, not specialization and priesthoods. If we idealized some future PC for a moment, we'd have a little box that any person young, old, disabled, abled, could operate as intuitively as a book. It would cost very little, it would connect to everything, it would never break, and so on. Your entire pitch there is the polar opposite!

Secondly, your comments about the responsibility I have for not ruining other people's computers are illogical in form. That irony alone on such a board is pretty humorous. Assume my PC is "A". Assume I get directions here on how to bypass the security features. And now, assume I lose PC "A" on a bus somewhere. Now, imagine the PC of Joe Hacker. Let's call his PC "B". He is the malevolent force you imagine is going to use PC "A" to create havoc on the Internet. Question: Why can't Joe get the same security info I got, and change his PC into the non-secure device? Why is PC "A" (found on a bus) somehow superior to PC "B"for making Bots?

The discounting of the appliance model flies in the face of the history of engineering. Suppose instead of using a telephone, the technician hands you a basket of electronic parts with a schematic and says, "you need to learn AC circuit theory and how to properly build amplifiers," before making a telephone call?

Last edited by Redwoodguy; 12-19-2010 at 04:11 PM.
 
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Old 12-19-2010, 04:25 PM   #38
lazlow
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Redwoodguy

Here is the flaw in your left on a bus theory, the hacker does not need to take physical possesion your computer in order to cause a problem. Actaully he would prefer not to even ever see (physically) your computer. The ideal situation(for the cracker) is to gain access to your computer (through an unpatched secruity hole) while your computer is online and funnel all his deeds through your computer. Thus anything he does(hacking FBI etc) trails back to you and is virtually impossible to track back to him. More common now would be to use your computer as a spam bot(still trails back to you and not him).

Last edited by lazlow; 12-19-2010 at 04:29 PM.
 
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Old 12-19-2010, 04:53 PM   #39
snowpine
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Redwoodguy, here's the thing, I believe Ubuntu does indeed provide that "appliance" level ease of use, when used as intended. You get the latest security updates to Firefox etc. and limited user privileges, so you literally never need to worry about security threats, viruses, malware, etc. for the support duration of the release. You just buy a computer with Ubuntu preinstalled and surf the web, no worries. (Or, if you are an advanced user, you can attempt to install Ubuntu yourself on the hardware of your choice, no guarantees however it will work 100% perfectly.)

What you are asking is to subvert the way Ubuntu is designed and use it in a way it was never intended to be used, so you will get no support from its maker or from the community at Ubuntu Forums. Every official Ubuntu tutorial assumes the root account is locked down and you're using "sudo." Basically you are saying "my toaster is a failed appliance because everyone keeps telling me not to use it in the bathtub." Most appliances these days have safety features (lawnmower blades stop spinning if you fall off the seat, hair dryers break the circuit if you drop them in the water, laundry machines switch off when you open the door, etc.) so you can't have it both ways and argue that computers should be exempt from the failsafe safety features built into other "appliances."
 
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Old 12-19-2010, 05:04 PM   #40
bonixavier
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First of all:

1- sudo passwd root
-pick a password
2- Open the file etc/gdm/gdm.conf and look for the line that says:
Code:
AllowRoot=false
and change it to true.
3- End your current session and log-in as root.

I'm not sure if you can disable the root password entirely as I've never tried it seriously*, but having to type the password once is better than all the time, right?

Just don't come bitching later that Linux is unstable when things start breaking because you've misspelled or misclicked.

*- Googling a bit, I found that you can do what is suggested here.

Last edited by bonixavier; 12-19-2010 at 05:08 PM.
 
Old 12-19-2010, 06:08 PM   #41
Redwoodguy
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Snowpine--
I think I was convinced dozens of posts back that Ubuntu is not the solution I had hoped it was, or wanted it to be (I think I acquiesced quite a ways back on that point). The rest is just me as, a consumer of information, posing a hypothetical question about appliances for doing these common tasks as I have described. Ubuntu isn't my concern per se. I am sure there will always be computers that require specialists to operate, just as I am sure there will be ones that don't. It's no leap of imagination to see an iPAD morphing into a netbook (or is it vice versa?).

Lazlo - - If you say that's possible, I'll accept your answer on face value. However, in that case, we are of course talking about current OSes, not some idealized PC appliance of the future. Thanks for your correction though.

FWIW, I am not going to bypass my system in anyway. I'll just limit the OS upgrades in frequency. I can't do ZERO upgrades to Ubuntu 10.04, because that would foreclose on bug fixes. I will only have this netbook another 12 months, so if Ubuntu doesn't break itself again in that time, I'll be quite delighted, but I am not holding my breath. Cheers and happy holidays to all.
 
Old 12-20-2010, 05:14 PM   #42
frieza
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if you want go with the appliance analogy, disabling security on a computer to avoid typing passwords id kinda like overriding the safety switch on the door of a microwave oven because it's too small to fit your pots, not really a good idea, proceed at your own risk
 
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Old 12-21-2010, 03:17 AM   #43
nigelc
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If you want to disable the root password just edit the /etc/passwd file.
 
Old 12-21-2010, 03:58 AM   #44
rich_c
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nigelc View Post
If you want to disable the root password just edit the /etc/passwd file.
I hope anyone new to Linux reading this thread and seeing things like this will take it in context with all the warnings! You could conceivably find out how to circumvent various security measures, but DON'T!

If folk are really desperate for an operating system that's full of security holes, I hear Microsoft do one.
 
Old 12-21-2010, 09:16 PM   #45
Redwoodguy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frieza View Post
if you want go with the appliance analogy, disabling security on a computer to avoid typing passwords id kinda like overriding the safety switch on the door of a microwave oven because it's too small to fit your pots, not really a good idea, proceed at your own risk
In all fairness however, I have owned a dozen microwave ovens, cooked thousands of items in them, and never once did I consider the need to over-ride the safety switch.
 
  


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