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Red Hat Software Security Unix Linux

Fedora 12 Lets Users Install Signed Packages, Sans Root Privileges 502

Posted by timothy
from the try-it-you-might-like-it dept.
eqisow writes "The new default policy for Fedora 12 allows local, unprivileged users to install signed packages without root access. This change apparently went mostly unnoticed until after the Fedora 12 GA release, at which point it sparked a mailing list thread that is, as of this writing, over 100 posts long."
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Fedora 12 Lets Users Install Signed Packages, Sans Root Privileges

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  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:34PM (#30148992) Journal

    Sounds like I need to upgrade to Windows 7 for some real security...

    • by WindBourne (631190) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:12PM (#30149460) Journal
      MS is hit hard because they have had similar bad ideas, combined with having hired bad developers (and getting worse). But MS is now focused on Security, and is slowly making progress. I fear that if and when they surpass *nix (Linux, BSD, OSX, and some of the smaller ones like Solaris :) ) in security, that *nix will suddenly be slammed with virus and worms. And it will appear to happen overnight, even though it will be possible openings like this that slowly turn the heads of the writers.
    • Re:Wow (Score:5, Funny)

      by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:41PM (#30149892) Journal

      I'm not even sure who to ROOT for anymore.

      Haha, that was so terrible, please don't mod me funny.

  • by maccodemonkey (1438585) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:35PM (#30149012)
    ...all those laid off Microsoft employees already found work.
  • Just hope that your appliance manufacturer has disabled this.

  • This makes sense (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:39PM (#30149066)

    If the content is trusted then requiring the user to get root privileges is just a security risk (key-loggers). I do hope, however, that they had to foresight to require specific permissions to allow users to install signed packages. I don't want my guest users installing every signed package and filling my HDD.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      So with Microsoft it's a fail but here it's a feature? Man, my head is spinning.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Arimus (198136)

        No, its a fail. Any OS vendor / Linux distro which thinks this is a good idea needs whacking hard with a two-by-four till they get the message that this a fail whoever does it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by TooMuchToDo (882796)
          When Linux requires a root password via sudo to do everything, everyone cheers. When Windows Vista required an admin password to do the same administrative tasks, everyone complained.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by the_womble (580291)

            The thing is that Linux does not require the root password to do everything. The commonest task that requires it is installing software.

            From what I understood of the complaints about Vista, it required the root password a lot more than Linux does.

          • Re:This makes sense (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Nick Ives (317) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @07:06PM (#30150290)

            Sudo doesn't take your root password, it takes your password. Also, I'm not aware that anybody with a clue has complained about UAC whilst cheering about sudo. UAC is actually a step up from sudo because it uses a secure input driver to stop a programme clicking OK automatically whereas with sudo there's no equivalent protection from keyloggers.

            The only real advantage of sudo over UAC is that you can user sudoers to limit which executables normal users can run whereas with UAC you either have admin rights for everything or nothing, although I suspect you can mess around with user rights in Windows to give much finer grained capability permission.

            The only issue with UAC is how annoying the prompts can be and that's because of badly written software that assumes it has to have full admin rights. UAC prompts happen less these days though.

            So yea, at least check the facts before posting. Must troll harder!

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Homburg (213427)

            The idea of UAC is fine, but the implementation, at least in Vista, leaves a lot to be desired. The most annoying thing about UAC is that a lot of things that you need to authenticate to do also have a confirmation dialog in the application. So you end up being asked if you want to do something, clicking yes, then being asked if you want UAC to allow the application to do that. It almost seems like MS didn't actually test their software with UAC switched on.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by BeardedChimp (1416531)
          Having just read through the mailing list then quite of a few comments here most of the people are over reacting through ignorance of the situation:

          I may be wrong, but I understand that this behaviour of PackageKit only applies to users with direct console access (i.e. not remote shells). So, only users that are logged in via GDM or TTY would be able to perform such tasks. This significantly limits the number of users with powers to install signed software -- almost to the point of where it sounds like a fair trade-off. If someone has physical access to the machine, then heck -- it's not like they don't already effectively "own" it. Not saying it's a good default policy -- but let's cool our heads. Regards,

          So these is really a real world access security vulnerability in which case there are several easier ways to do damage.
          Not that I agree with this default of course, it still allows idiots (girlfriends, who am I kidding this is slashdot, your mum) to install crap all over your system.

      • by mweather (1089505)
        Microsoft lets you install unsigned code as well. Signed code isn't nearly as big a problem, unless they're signing keyloggers and spambots. It's still a problem, but nowhere near as bad.
        • Microsoft lets you install unsigned code as well.

          Without being admin/having to go through the UAC thing?

      • by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:05PM (#30149360) Journal

        No, there is a significant difference between "running as Admin" and "installing a signed application without requiring root (Linux's Admin) authority".

        The amount of authority granted depends on how many signing authorities you have decided to trust. If you trust only a server under your own control, for example, this could be really useful within an organization to allow users to install company-authorized packages without having to run around and install everything for everyone, while still preventing average users from doing anything to the machine.

        I don't agree with this change in RedHat, but it is (fortunately) a policy change and not a programming change. In other words, it's easy for any machine owner to change the policy (which can, by the way, only be done as root) and require that all software installs be done by root only (which was the old default). In my opinion, this default should be changed back, and those people who want to send signed packages out within their organizations can change the policy.

        A regular RedHat user still cannot do things like reformat the hard drive, change operating system files or core system configurations, access any data but their own, etc. Similar to a "Limited" user account in Windows (but the difference is that Microsoft, by default, has traditionally made all accounts Admin, and a lot of software vendors have come to depend on that so making a Limited user is an exercise in deep frustration in Windows).

    • by MatanZ (4571) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:47PM (#30149144) Homepage

      The contest might be trusted, but not wanted by the administrator of the machine.

      Another way to think about it - you are now vulnerable to local root exploits not only in packages you installed, but also in packages you chose not to install.

      • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris&beau,org> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:06PM (#30149382)

        > Another way to think about it - you are now vulnerable to local root exploits not only
        > in packages you installed, but also in packages you chose not to install.

        DING! You nailed it. The attack surface has been expanded to include every package in every enabled repo. Find a local root exploit in any one of them and you get the machine.

        This is totally stupid. It makes the assumption that every user is an admin, which was exactly the idiocy we have, rightly, laughed at Microsoft for years over. Microsoft has been working at correcting that mistake while we have been adopting it. And it isn't just Fedora, this apparently came from upstream at PackgeKit so unless this gets nipped in the bud it will spread to everyone else.

        The root of the problem is that decisions that impact security are being made by marketing people more concerned with the 'year of the Linux desktop'. And again, wasn't this exactly what we slagged Microsoft over in the past? As Linux nears readiness for mass consumption we find ourselves making exactly the same mistakes for exactly the same reasons. We are tossing decades of hard won security knowledge onto the altar of user friendliness.

        We didn't learn anything. We are doomed.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Znork (31774)

          The attack surface has been expanded

          That was my first instinct as well, but if you look a bit more at the issue it's not much of an expansion. The possible extra surface would be suid binaries, as the ability to install and run programs is rarely secured anyway, only the ability to do it 'the right way' (ie, via package manager into the base system) is secured.

          Personally I tend to be more concerned with server systems where this would not be an appropriate default policy (altho package-kit seems to offer so

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Reason58 (775044)

      If the content is trusted then requiring the user to get root privileges is just a security risk (key-loggers). I do hope, however, that they had to foresight to require specific permissions to allow users to install signed packages. I don't want my guest users installing every signed package and filling my HDD.

      Signed doesn't mean bug-proof. Everything a user installs is just one more attack vector.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by msclrhd (1211086)

        And installing random stuff is an easy way to destabalise a system.

        What... I want to install kubuntu-desktop on this ubuntu-desktop machine. (Yes, I know the issue is in Fedora, but the same principle applies.)

    • Re:This makes sense (Score:5, Informative)

      by fluch (126140) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:48PM (#30149162)

      No, it does NOT make sense. It creates a new security risk: If some malicious software (runing under with normal user privileges) notices that a hackable software is missing on the computer (one which has a known security vulnerability to gain root access) it can now install this package without problem and gain root access later on.

      A sudo approach like done in Ubuntu is much better.

      • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:15PM (#30149500)
        It makes perfect sense and entirely appropriate for home/personal use. If you're in a corporate environment, disable the feature.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by fluch (126140)

          So giving malware which runs with user privileges a possibility to automaticaly request the installation of a package with known root exploit makes sense for home/personal use?

    • by Draek (916851) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:53PM (#30149216)

      So, you argue that this is a security measure to protect systems that are already compromised with keyloggers? I... see, right... *backs away slowly*

    • by jim_v2000 (818799) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:02PM (#30149336)
      Guest users? That's good...everyone knows that Linux users don't have any guests.
  • by EvanED (569694) <evaned@ g m a i l.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:44PM (#30149092)

    What I want is a package manager that will do installation to my own home directory -- basically the same as downloading the source and running './configure --prefix=$HOME/whatever && make install' but without the complete bitchness of dependency hell -- without any root privileges at all. Anyone know of one?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by AnotherShep (599837)
      Have you tried just deploying with ClickOnce? Oh, wait, nevermind. :P
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Defiler (1693) *
      I know of one for Mac OS:
      http://github.com/mxcl/homebrew/ [github.com]
      It would probably not be much of a challenge to make that work on a Linux machine. That and a Linux tool for this probably already exists.
    • by Nimey (114278)

      Stow isn't quite what you want, but it's pretty close. I've used it for just about ten years for locally-compiled stuff.

      Generally what I do is ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/stow/[PACKAGENAME-VERSION] && make && sudo make install, then cd /usr/local/stow and type "sudo stow [PACKAGENAME-VERSION]. Removal is a simple cd /usr/local/stow && sudo stow -D [PACKAGENAME-VERSION]. It doesn't worry about dependencies at all, and really all it does is make symlinks in /usr/local/bin, /usr/

  • by TSHTF (953742) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:45PM (#30149108) Homepage
    Certainly there can't be a problem here, says the Fedora team. According to the release notes [fedoraproject.org], there are 15,000 packages which can be installed by these unprivileged users. That's a lot of fscking code -- surely some of it is poorly written. Consider this scenario: Package X suffers a critical {local, remote} root vulnerability. If the vulnerability isn't public, any local user (and maybe remote ones too!) has root. If the vulnerability is public, there is often a long window between downstream fixes and Fedora fixes. In either case, this is a security issue. The Fedora team really should have put this in the release notes and reconsider this implementation in the first place.
    • Unless there simply isn't, e.g., a signed telnetd package, you don't need undiscovered vulnerabilities for this to be a potential for major problems. Many packages are not the sort of thing you would really want to have on, say, a publicly accessible machine, but might be willing to have on a system on your LAN (Samba springs to mind). Beyond vulnerabilities, there's the simple issue of exposure.

      If the admin can't define who is allowed to do such basic administration tasks as installing packages, somethin

  • by Jailbrekr (73837) <jailbrekr@digitaladdiction.net> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:46PM (#30149132) Homepage

    That is just silly. Users are users for a reason, and admins are admins for a reason. If users want to install software, they can use sudo.

    Whoever approved that in the Fedora team needs a refresher in security.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Celeste R (1002377)

      RH didn't give any go ahead, it was the PackageKit upstream that did it without any communication.

      Also:
      NO documentation about this 'feature'.
      Terrible configuration system.
      Also, the entire mailing list had to do their own homework about this policy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:47PM (#30149140)

    Ah yes, the age-old struggle between developers and sysadmins bears yet more sour fruit.

    After working as a sysadmin for 10+ years for several groups of Linux software devs, I realized that devs don't make good sysadmins, and vice-versa (in general).

    Developer workstations are usually a mess of tweaks, customizations, hacks, extraneous libraries that they were "testing" three months ago, odd daemons, and all kinds of other crap. They would install new packages hourly - so all the better if they could do it without requiring root access to the servers.

    Sysadmins on the other hand tend to be uptight control freaks who micro-manage every little thing. This is great when we're talking the company webservers, but when it comes to developer workstations, well... the devs weren't too happy about being locked down.

    I guarantee you that this feature was requested/suggested by one or more developers on the team, who thought it'd make their lives easier. And I also guarantee you that most of the people against it are system administrators.

    God, I'm glad I went back into Science.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BlueParrot (965239)

      God, I'm glad I went back into Science.

      Science is vulgar compared to mathematics.

      I bet you're even one of those dirty experimentalists, or even worse, a chemist!

    • by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:15PM (#30149492) Homepage

      After working as a sysadmin for 10+ years for several groups of Linux software devs, I realized that devs don't make good sysadmins, and vice-versa (in general).

      We did okay in our office. We let the dev's admin their own machines and an actual sysadmin, like yourself, run the production environment. For the desktops users put in an install request and we installed the software for them. It wasn't that hard, we didn't get a lot of requests.

      I don't see the conflict myself. Just by running CentOS dev machines and Ubuntu for commodity desktops, we were light years ahead on security without even doing a lot. As long as no one is staying logged in as root, there are much easier targets. It's kind of like the bear joke. We don't have to have bear proof security, just better security than the company next door.

    • by digitalhermit (113459) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @08:59PM (#30151508) Homepage

      Thank goodness for virtualization. I can keep the host system locked down and fairly pristine, yet inside the virtual environment I am a wild man with wild thoughts, eating my oatmeal without a spoon, cutting off mattress tags, and installing beta code wherever I see fit.

  • by asv108 (141455) <{alex} {at} {phataudio.org}> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:48PM (#30149150) Homepage Journal
    I really don't understand the basis for this move. From a desktop usability perspective, having the gui password prompt for an elevated privilege such as a package install works fine. Its seemless in Linux and OSX. Not prompting for authentication for signed package installs is insanely insecure and borderline insane.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by natehoy (1608657)

      It depends on your environment. For an individual user, you'd want sudo or su and you'd want to be prompted for each install. And that's a good thing.

      But in a large corporate environment, I might want to make a bank of internal applications available (similar to Microsoft's "Run Advertised Programs"). I could configure all of my corporate desktops to only recognize the signing authority of a repository I own, then any of my users can install anything they want off that repository. But installs of things

  • What a mess... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interval1066 (668936) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:48PM (#30149158) Homepage Journal
    The email trail even includes a query from a redhat developer asking why its such an issue. Incredible. I was going to quote some of that thread but the entire exchange is pretty funny, odd, and scary. Remind me to continue to not use RH, at least as a server.
  • by crow (16139) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:48PM (#30149166) Homepage Journal

    Suppose someone wrote a worm that could get access to the system as a user. Then all they need is to find a signed package with a privilege-escalation bug, and whether it's installed or not, the malware could exploit it, gaining root access.

    But apart from that, I can see where this would be nice from a single-user system standpoint.

  • YAY!!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @05:54PM (#30149234) Journal

    Fedora, Now With The Power Of Windows!!!!

    Tired of those pesky admin privileges. Tired of using superuser. Want everyone on your system to install what they like, even from websites that say "Install Me!", why Fedora 12 is here! Come on, don't be afraid. Flush forty years of basic security principles down the toilet!

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      And yet when Microsoft included UAC in Windows Vista to address this very complaint they only got lambasted by you same Linux people. What hypocrisy.

      • Re:YAY!!!! (Score:4, Informative)

        by natehoy (1608657) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:37PM (#30149830) Journal

        Yes, because as everyone knows, whenever ANYONE speaks about Linux, it's the SAME person who made another previous statement about Linux.

        UAC is an excellent attempt at a Windows implementation a proper security model (temporary escalation of authority for a specific task, with prompting). Personally my only complaint about UAC was that it took Microsoft so long to finally come around to something like it. I run XP as a limited user, and it's very frustrating to see all the software that has been written for Windows that assumes you are running as Admin simply because that's the Windows XP default.

        And, yes, I'm clearly and keenly aware that Microsoft is not responsible in any way for the laziness or incompetence of third party developers who write code that runs on their OS. But it does point back to the whole issue that's plagued Microsoft all along - security was ignored for way too long in Redmond, and continued as an oft-ignored afterthought well after they had gained a reputation for writing insecure code. I will give them credit - once they finally extracted cranium from anus and got the clue meter off zero, they made a relatively impressive turnaround in security in a very respectable amount of time.

  • by BountyX (1227176) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:03PM (#30149338)
    Browsed through the list. Here are instructions to require a password for signed repo [wordpress.com]. I agree with many of the mailing list users, this is a very bad default and there seems to be an assumption of targeting the desktop, or single user environments...
  • Hmm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:04PM (#30149354) Journal
    I'm not sure that this is a good default setting(though I would say that it is much more defensible for a desktop oriented distro, with the ability to turn it off; while it would be unsuitable for a server/corporate lockdown box setup). However, aside from the on by default/off by default question, I don't really understand what the big deal is.

    Some people are freaking out, as though context-sensitive privilege escalation is some sort of ghastly betrayal of all that is UNIX and Good(tm). That seems frankly nonsensical.For example, good old Sudo does exactly that. If you are on the sudoers list, you can do some or all things as a different user(usually root) with just your own credentials. This is wildly useful, and is a routine part of a great many UNIX systems. In desktopish contexts, we've also had things like automounters for external storage, doing a limited amount of trusted stuff as root, for some years now. Not necessarily the thing for servers; but usually good for desktops.

    I don't know whether this is a good default or not, and I'd certainly want to see it mentioned in the docs(assuming it isn't already, haven't checked). However, limited privilege escalation mechanisms, for performing a set of trusted actions, have been part of UNIX for years. Anybody who is merely blowing up about that, rather than about the defaults question, is being reactionary in a way that isn't even accurate.
  • by QuoteMstr (55051) <dan.colascione@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:15PM (#30149498)

    There's something really, critically important here that everyone is missing:

    ONLY LOCAL USERS CAN INSTALL PACKAGES

    In other words:

    IT ONLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE FOR USERS PHYSICALLY SITTING AT A MACHINE

    That means that a random user can't ssh into your server and install packages. He has to actually be at the machine. And if he has physical access to the machine, he can just boot from a LiveCD.

    Installing signed packages is a very low-risk operation. Yes, there are theoretical vulnerabilities, but in order for them to make much of a difference, you need the perfect alignment of coincidences that's really unlikely in practice.

    This change allows users who can already compromise the machine given enough time do something very safe painlessly.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Junta (36770)

      Either that, or someone able to fool the checks for console ownership (one of the points in the email thread were that the checks weren't sufficiently robust for their comfort).

      Every package from the project is signed. It doesn't 'lose' its signature just because a new rpm exists in the world somewhere that fixes a vulnerability. So a system that doesn't want to run 'extremeliabilityd' and opts not to install it at all, could be compromised anyway.

      Why would one want to imitate the Windows 95 model for dep

    • by blueg3 (192743) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:32PM (#30149754)

      Yes, only the console user can install packages.

      Or, any software the console user is running?
      Or, perhaps, a web page that the console user is viewing through a web browser with a security vulnerability that enables remote code execution?
      Or, perhaps, an ad embedded in a web page that...

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:36PM (#30149810) Homepage Journal

      You are right that the idea is that this only applies to the scenario where there is, essentially, a single user who owns, operates, and physically sits at the PC, and that a lot of people seem to be missing that.

      However, if you own, operate, and physically sit at your PC, how onerous would it be to have to enter your password, or even the root password, when you want to do something as disruptive and uncommon as use the package manager to make system wide changes?

      And if that is indeed too onerous, how bad would it be to have to change the configuration to allow you to do same without having to enter a password?

      In either of those cases, you would have a secure-by-default design. Deviating from that just opens a huge can of worms (no pun intended), as there are suddenly a lot more things you need to worry about - and failing to worry about them gives you an insecure system.

      Doing something as unexpected and potentially dangerous as this should NOT have been done without ample discussion, and should definitely have been mentioned in the release notes and during the installation procedure - probably with an option right there to turn it on and off, and probably with the default being off.

      The mind boggling WTF here isn't that somebody thought letting users install packages without having to enter a password is a good idea, but rather that the new, disruptive, less secure setting has been made the default without the world, the users, or even the developers knowing about it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      I've got a box sitting right here, I'd love to see you boot from a LiveCD. Not real sure how you're going to do it considering the CD isn't part of the boot sequence and the BIOS is locked with a password.

      You could try to move the drive to a new machine if you'd like, but since thats going to require you digging it out from behind a table, with several large items sitting on top of it, I'm probably going to notice you doing it. Did I mention the case also has a lock on it?

      I let plenty of random people use

  • by mukund (163654) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:22PM (#30149592) Homepage

    Fedora accepts all kinds of packages. You could create a simple utility, like some netmask computation code, make it a trojan (add code which does what it's not intended to do as setuid root).. package it for Fedora. This can go completely unnoticed. As an upstream maintainer, I am pretty sure Fedora or any other distro does not review my project code more than a cursory glance to fix any compilation/integration issues.

    User gets to be root user. It may not even be a user.. it may be a program of some kind that has access to your user account after exploiting a vulnerability in an app such as your web browser.

    There are other ways to get root too, such as exploit other setuid binaries in any of the thousands of packages that Fedora ships in the Everything repo.

    Letting users install packages (signed or not) on a system administered by root is a stupid decision.

  • by bheer (633842) <rbheer&gmail,com> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @06:33PM (#30149772)

    Interesting and wrong [redhat.com], I should say:

    There's nothing to discuss here. Your problem is that pretending asking for root authentication for *local* users in *active* sessions... when installing *trusted* software adds security is... well.. only a sign of dogma, snakeoil and ignorance when it comes to providing a secure system.

    There's a superficial kind of sense in what he's saying. After all, if someone has console access, he could already pwn the machine, right? Well, the keyword here is defense-in-depth. There are lots of reasons non-root, non-trusted users might want to run from the console. Linux on random net-cafe machines is one example, where all kinds of people use the console. A family PC running Linux (hey, not as farfetched as it sounds) might have different user accounts for each family member.

    Sure, it's trivial to fix this with pklocalauthority, but should users have to? It's about as lame as telling folk, "hey, you can just switch off IIS if you don't need it."

    It's sad that while Microsoft and Windows has made so many strides towards providing a secure-by-default configuration, Red Hat seems to be losing the plot. Cf another gem of a comment on Bugzilla: I don't particularly care how UNIX has always worked. [redhat.com] Sigh.

  • Line crossed.. (Score:4, Informative)

    by Junta (36770) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @08:23PM (#30151136)

    I undestood locality to console as an 'authentication' scheme for reboot/shutdown -h now. That is a transient state change with, in theory, no lasting effects on the underlying platform. The slight risk of temporary DoS is taken understanding that the user would otherwise resort to ungraceful use of the power button.

    I understand the use for removable media, where the owner of auto-plugged media is assigned to the 'console' user. Persistent state change is possible, but restricted in scope to a removable device that someone at a 'console' controlled physically anyway.

    However, this is a mechanism that allows a user to make persistent state changes to the 'root' owned content. This is simply not acceptable. The act of installing software is rare enough so the password shouldn't be considered horrible, and no worse alternatives are likely if a user cannot install the software conveniently.

  • by Improv (2467) <pgunn@dachte.org> on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:04PM (#30151544) Homepage Journal

    I've been using redhat/fedora since at least RedHat5, having previously used Slackware. I thought SELinux was pretty sketchy, but this change is utterly ridiculous. I'm still on FC11, but until and unless they develop some sanity by FC13, I'm going to need to find a new distro (CentOS? Debian? I'm not sure yet)

  • It is an irony... (Score:3, Informative)

    by drolli (522659) on Wednesday November 18, 2009 @09:23PM (#30151740) Journal

    that many posters here see this as a security bug "because it enables you to install any exploit found in any package". That is true and untrue at the same time. A good idea would be that no user may create a setuid root binary. But all escalations based on system call implementation errors can be provoked by the user himself by picking out the right code from the source of the packages and compiling it himself using the gcc which is most likely available on many systems.

    An even better idea view would be an per-user-view of the computer.

  • It's Official... (Score:3, Informative)

    by nathanh (1214) on Thursday November 19, 2009 @08:02AM (#30154716) Homepage

    ... Red Hat is now hiring idiot developers who don't know the first thing about UNIX.

    The Linux admins at one of the sites I regularly work were in a furor over this change to Fedora. Within the space of a minute they had concocted a half dozen ways this "feature" could be exploited. This wasn't even taking into account the management and maintenance nightmare of machines where users could install software; they were simply considering the security implications. One of the admins was so furious that he suggested in all seriousness that the site drops Red Hat Enterprise Linux immediately and use SUSE Enterprise. His justification being that if Red Hat can allow this kind of stupidity into their community build, imagine what sort of crap is filtering through into Enterprise Linux. He no longer has any confidence that Red Hat has the faintest clue what constitutes a secure system. I didn't think he was overreacting; this is the dumbest thing I've seen any Linux distribution do, ever.

    That the Fedora developers are trying to defend this stupidity is just the icing on the cake. Red Hat should sack every last one of them for incompetence.

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