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Security SuSE Linux

Torvalds Calls OpenSUSE Security 'Too Intrusive' 311

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the permission-denied dept.
jfruh writes "The balance between security and ease of use is always a tricky one to strike, and Linux distros tend to err on the side of caution. But no less a luminary than Linus Torvalds thinks openSUSE has gone too far. When his kid needed to call from school for the root password just so he could add a printer to a laptop, that's when Linus decided things had gone off the rails."
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Torvalds Calls OpenSUSE Security 'Too Intrusive'

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  • Only root? (Score:5, Funny)

    by busyqth (2566075) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:27PM (#39199203)
    Bah! Back in the day we recompiled the kernel to add a printer!
    AND WE LIKED IT THAT WAY!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wow, newfangled drivers in the kernel... Back in the day, we had to manually pull the bits out of the computer, put them in a bucket, and transport them to the printer manually!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Back in the day? People using FreeBSD are still doing that shit. And yet they'll claim that their OS is superior to any Linux distribution in any way. Except, you know, in the case of usability for a desktop, in which case it's a fucking catastrophe.

    • Re:Only root? (Score:4, Informative)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:50PM (#39199527) Journal
      Only if your printer sucked. If you had a real printer you could just cat the postscript to whatever device it was connected to...
      • Re:Only root? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:58PM (#39199647)
        I love these responses. "It's not broken, incapable software, you just have to buy a different printer. Noob."
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Bengie (1121981)

          More like "you bought the wrong one, so suck-it-up and learn from your mistakes"

        • Re:Only root? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @02:39PM (#39201019)

          There's some different issues here. Postscript (or PDF) printers are definitely superior to others, for good reason: they accept documents in a standardized format, and don't require special drivers. The only "drivers" needed are extremely simple, mainly to tell CUPS how many trays your printer has, and let you select the input and output trays, select duplexing, stuff like that.

          Drivers that don't accept Postscript (or at least some other de facto standard like HP's PCL) have to have special drivers to convert your PS/PDF file into something the printer can understand, which isn't just a document description language, but rather something more like machine code to tell the printer exactly how to move the print head around and spray ink--these cheapo printers don't have much in the way of processing power, and rely on the host to do the processing for it. This means you need a special driver (which doesn't necessarily mean kernel driver, usually these printer drivers just run in userspace), which of course has to be supplied by the manufacturer since they're the only ones who really know how the printer works inside. Everyone even semi-knowledgable about computers should know by now that relying on mfgrs to supply drivers for Linux is generally a losing proposition, so these el cheapo printers should be avoided at all costs.

          Setting up Linux to print to any decent office printer is usually a very simple affair: just find the printer, then select the manufacturer and model from the huge lists provided by CUPS, and off you go. Whether it's an HP LaserJet, a Ricoh, a Xerox, etc., it can print to any of these things. But a $30 piece of shit inkjet? Forget it. This has been the case for as long as $30 inkjets have been around, and hasn't changed, and it probably isn't going to change either, unless at some point in the future MS's near-monopoly collapses and Linux desktop systems start becoming popular (sort of like the way that many different phone makers sell their phones with different versions of Android on them, and these are doing quite well in the marketplace).

          • Re:Only root? (Score:4, Informative)

            by omnichad (1198475) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:22PM (#39201617) Homepage

            And it really shouldn't be that hard. If you make a print driver for Mac OS X, you likely already have a CUPS ppd created.

          • Our printer is basically incompatible-proof. Not only does it accept PS, PDF, etc but you can actually FTP the pdf or PS file directly to it on port 21. The same can be done for firmware upgrades, just FTP the badboy and watch it do it's magic.

            Sometimes I love HP for making things so damn simple!
          • Re:Only root? (Score:4, Informative)

            by Kjella (173770) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @11:54PM (#39205449) Homepage

            Setting up Linux to print to any decent office printer is usually a very simple affair: just find the printer, then select the manufacturer and model from the huge lists provided by CUPS, and off you go. Whether it's an HP LaserJet, a Ricoh, a Xerox, etc., it can print to any of these things. But a $30 piece of shit inkjet? Forget it

            Here's a $30 printer [amazon.co.uk] that works perfectly [openprinting.org] under Linux, not that I've tried this particular one. It's more a matter of brand than price, some companies just have shit support and others are quite good.

      • Re:Only root? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:03PM (#39199713)

        Only if your printer sucked. If you had a real printer you could just cat the postscript to whatever device it was connected to...

        And that's why the year of Linux on the desktop will always be next year.

        • Re:Only root? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Eil (82413) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:42PM (#39201879) Homepage Journal

          It's somehow the (free) operating system's fault because printer manufacturers design their hardware around yet another half-baked printing protocol instead of just using a standard that's been around for decades?

          • by tftp (111690)

            It's somehow the (free) operating system's fault because printer manufacturers design their hardware around yet another half-baked printing protocol instead of just using a standard that's been around for decades?

            Nobody in his right mind should pay for a separate CPU and RAM and everything else in a printer if the host can do all that, faster, and at zero cost. Rendering PostScript is not exactly a trivial matter. Printer manufacturers do the right thing here. What they aren't doing right is that they do

      • Postscript is an Apple conspiracy, designed to wear out electrons by sending too many of them through the printer cable.

        ASCII only!

        • I think you meant Adobe.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Postscript is an Apple conspiracy, designed to wear out electrons by sending too many of them through the printer cable.

          That's why you need a Monster Cable. The larger conductors and lubricated sheathing minimize wear. This both maximizes cable lifetime and ensures that the bits better retain their shape as they transit the cable.

  • by Toe, The (545098) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:30PM (#39199243)

    I see this on Macs a lot. If you want to install anything, you have to type an administrator's password.

    In theory, that's great. But in effect, you are giving that installer root access. So if I understand correctly, that installer could be putting any amount of spyware (or whatever) into your computer and nearly perfectly cover its tracks.

    Otoh, many Mac apps are distributed as disk images, where you simply drag them from the image to your drive, and that's it. No password at all. If you're going to use pre-rolled software, that certainly seems more trustworthy. But of course, it is a lot more complicated of a process for the average user to be able to ever understand.

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Otoh, many Mac apps are distributed as disk images, where you simply drag them from the image to your drive, and that's it.

      Yeah, but the typical place you want to drag them to, at least to take advantage of the normal OSX UI, is the /Applications folder, which isn't writable by non-admin users by default.

      • by dgatwood (11270)

        I would argue that for most users, the place they would drag them is into their Dock. Where the Application physically lives isn't that important.

        • by Trepidity (597)

          If you drag from the .dmg volumes that OSX apps are typically distributed in to the dock, though, the dock icon will point to the app inside of the .dmg, and the link will stop working if you ever unmount the volume.

    • That's the huge advantage of software repositories. You give the package manager priviledges, but the OS packages already checked the packages, so it's "safe enough".
      Other software (games), can be installed at a user-level, instead of system-level.

  • What an ass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MatthiasF (1853064) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:32PM (#39199265)
    He could have just added the user to the sudo group and been done.

    But no, he had to go harping on everyone on bug lists and social media rants to put people down, even suggesting whoever made the system should die.

    What an ass.
    • Re:What an ass (Score:5, Informative)

      by Rhacman (1528815) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:43PM (#39199421)
      If I understand correctly this in effect would be giving that user root priviledges. I think his complaint was that an ordinary task like adding a printer required that level of priviledge, not that it was inconvinient to do. It sounded like he wanted to administer his childs laptop without giving them free reign over it.
      • Re:What an ass (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ArcherB (796902) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:55PM (#39199615) Journal

        If I understand correctly this in effect would be giving that user root priviledges. I think his complaint was that an ordinary task like adding a printer required that level of priviledge, not that it was inconvinient to do. It sounded like he wanted to administer his childs laptop without giving them free reign over it.

        He was also a bit pissed that you need the root password to connect to a new wifi hot spot. Could imagine the network admin's nightmare of having to give the root password to a salesman trying to give a presentation on the road?

        I had the same problem with my Fedora 16 (XFCE Spin) box needed the root password to eject a CD. It really sucked that my file manager couldn't do it unless I ran it as root. I don't even know what the file manager's name to run as root and I shouldn't have to. Of course it was no big deal for me to type in "sudo eject cdrom", but I wouldn't expect the average user to know that. Besides, I shouldn't have to add standard users to the sudoers group just so they can swap a friggin CD out!

        • I shouldn't have to add standard users to the sudoers group just so they can swap a friggin CD out!

          Should someone be able to eject the CD that you're using while remotely logged into your computer using SSH?

          • By default? Yes. If i'm sitting behind the computer and need the CD drive, I should be able to.

            Of course, there should be an option to disable it - as I'm sure there is!

          • Re:Remote ejecting (Score:4, Insightful)

            by w_dragon (1802458) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:38PM (#39200235)
            If that someone has a valid user name and password, and you leave ssh open on your laptop, sure. Why not?
      • Re:What an ass (Score:5, Informative)

        by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:02PM (#39199695) Homepage

        If I understand correctly this in effect would be giving that user root priviledges.

        You don't. The whole point of sudo is that it gives you fine-grained control over the privileges of each user.

        • I'm still wondering why a lot of these things feel like only being able to drive a car if you know how the engine works in detail (and more).

          Sure, programmers and computer enthusiasts might be able to deal with this sort of thing but anyone else probably will be paralyzed.

          Yes, I'm aware there are several distros suiting different needs but the general feeling always seems to be that you need to know one too many things.

        • by TheLink (130905)
          With the popular Desktop Linux security models would you have enough power to pwn the system if you had the power to add a printer?
    • by MrHanky (141717)

      You don't generally use sudo when installing printers under Linux. You either use the web frontend for CUPS, in which case you're prompted for a password (either root or a user in a printer admin group), or more likely some application in the DE, in which case it's up to the PolKit configuration or whatever arcane nonsense they use these days. And yes, the default policy should be to allow users to add printers.

      • by icebike (68054) *

        You don't generally use sudo when installing printers under Linux. You either use the web frontend for CUPS, in which case you're prompted for a password (either root or a user in a printer admin group), or more likely some application in the DE, in which case it's up to the PolKit configuration or whatever arcane nonsense they use these days. And yes, the default policy should be to allow users to add printers.

        This is true, but out of the box, there is no printer-admin group in OpenSuse, and no users are added to it by default. You have to remember to do that, as well as 3 or 5 similar group-membership things in order to make a machine "user maintainable" for normal operations. Things like video, wifi, cdrom, all need permissions or are managed by membership in groups that you have to remember to check.

        Left unsaid is how old Linus's kid is. Given the parentage, I'm surprised the kid doesn't already have root,

      • You either use the web frontend for CUPS, in which case you're prompted for a password (either root or a user in a printer admin group)

        Why can't each user have a separate set of printers and a separate printer admin group to manage his own printers? "Install this application or device just for me" is something that a lot of these multiuser operating systems have tended to neglect.

    • Re:What an ass (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:44PM (#39199433) Journal

      Why should he have to do that? Why isn't it sufficient to add the user to the 'lp' group? There's no reason that printing should require root access at all.

      • Re:What an ass (Score:5, Insightful)

        by OzPeter (195038) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:50PM (#39199529)

        Why should he have to do that? Why isn't it sufficient to add the user to the 'lp' group? There's no reason that printing should require root access at all.

        Why does an administrator have to add anyone to anything in order to do a commonplace task on a machine that is really a commodity item?
         
        Not that I have read his rants but I get where he is coming from.

        • Because just because a user has one of 100 shell accounts on a machine shouldn't entitle the user to waste the paper and ink of all the printers connected to the machine.
      • Re:What an ass (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:58PM (#39199655)

        Why should he have to do that? Why isn't it sufficient to add the user to the 'lp' group? There's no reason that printing should require root access at all.

        Because, in any sane environment, that would require proving that the entier printer-management interface is secure enough not to allow privilege escalation or agent-based attacks. At the very least, that would require a software audit of those components that can be twiddled and probably some pen-testing and/or fuzzing. You can just say "well, this is designed to just let users add a printer so surely it can't be used to do anything else" -- I suppose you *can* say that but you ought to lose your job for that kind of thinking.

        We've had large multi-user operating systems for decades now and people still don't seem to understand this basic principle -- if an interface is available to a regular user, it has to be vetted to ensure that it does not allow the user to do any more than what it advertises and that the effects of that are limited to things that the user is supposed to be able to accomplish.

        • by Tharsman (1364603)

          That sounds like TSA logic!

          • That sounds like TSA logic!

            It appears you are trying to install a printer I never seen before.

            Press OK for exceedingly personal and embarrassing pat down, or READ MORE for a way to just pose nude in front of the web cam, or press CANCEL to order your cavity search online.

        • by tomhudson (43916)

          We've had large multi-user operating systems for decades now and people still don't seem to understand this basic principle -- if an interface is available to a regular user, it has to be vetted to ensure that it does not allow the user to do any more than what it advertises and that the effects of that are limited to things that the user is supposed to be able to accomplish.

          What a load of horse puckey. This is a kid's computer for school use. Not a system to control an aircraft or nuclear power plant.

      • by DarkOx (621550)

        At some point a privileged operation more than likely has to take place. Perhaps Linus should do a little introspection about how his own kernel handles module loading?

        I don't use SUSE so I don't know what I am talking about here but it seems maybe the problem is along the lines of their add user script should suggest putting new users in plugdev? Which would let udev(which runs as 0) load the required modules and the default rules would likely make a lp device writable by members of lp.

        So it probably is

    • This would only prove that OpenSuse if impractical for shared computers, since all users need a root password for ordinary tasks, one of which is bound to screw up.

      • by arth1 (260657)

        This would only prove that OpenSuse if impractical for shared computers, since all users need a root password for ordinary tasks, one of which is bound to screw up.

        ... or will abuse it to spy on others - read their e-mail or check their browser history, for example.

    • by arth1 (260657)

      "+1 Stupid"
      That's still giving a user superuser access when it shouldn't be required. Why open the barn door?

      Plus, it likely wouldn't work. Because chances are that Linus' son sits in the GUI and tries to add a printer there, not using "cups-add-printer" or similar from the command line.

  • I feel you man, (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dr. Tom (23206) <tomh@nih.gov> on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:35PM (#39199283) Homepage

    B.S. in C.S., M.S. Psy., Ph.D. in C.S. and B.S.*, and my job is to fix the printer ...

    * That's Brain Science, you r'tard

    In other news, Linus has a child old enough to install printers on Linux ... I feel old.

    I guess it's reasonable ... they use to say, "you're not dating girls until you're 21!"
    Now it's "You can't have the root password until you're 21!"

    By the way, Linus is right, I usually disable selinux ... a good firewall is fine ..., and
    also if your child clicks on an attachment from a stranger, that's a grounding.

    • Grounding? What kid nowadays cares about going outside. Changing the AP's password is a proper punishment!

      • by jd (1658)

        Huh? Capabilities would offer far more fine-grained control over the degree of punishment.

      • by Dr. Tom (23206)

        No internet for a week! I like it.

        You can't take away the kid's smartphone, or how else could you track him?
        (There is a tool that allows parents to remotely activate their child's smartphone microphone, so they can not only see where the child is, but what he or she is saying. Children: you need an acoustic foam box in your clubhouse.)

    • by geekoid (135745)

      You have PhD in "Brain Science"

      what does that mean? I know what you mean by Brain Science, but isn't that normally call Neurology?

      By the way, if you had a Ph.D in C.S., you don't need to list the B.S. in C.S.

    • SELinux is a huge stinking pile. Once it's installed it can't be disabled, claims to the contrary notwithstanding. The last time I tried to disable it, my system wouldn't boot. The advice SELinux gives for overcoming alerts doesn't work more often than it does.
      • SELinux is a huge stinking pile. Once it's installed it can't be disabled, claims to the contrary notwithstanding. The last time I tried to disable it, my system wouldn't boot. The advice SELinux gives for overcoming alerts doesn't work more often than it does.

        selinux is a mistake, but nobody wants to admit it.

        There is a way to disable it, but it's not intuitive. You first off have to change a setting in the configuration, then reboot, and only then remove it. Just removing it leaves you with an unboo

  • Maybe it's a nitpick, but if you employ quotation marks, you are denoting one of two things - sarcasm or direct quotation. Given the context, it does not appear to be sarcasm. RTFA shows that Torvalds did not use the words "too intrusive".

    Sure, it's one somewhat questionable paraphrase of what he said, but to use quotation marks there is dishonest. His complaint was not even over the amount of effort, but rather of whom the effort was required. That is, non-root users were being required to know the
    • Maybe it's a nitpick, but if you employ quotation marks, you are denoting one of two things - sarcasm or direct quotation.

      I didn't see the sentence to which you were referring, but quotes can also be used for other reasons like signaling unusual usage [wikipedia.org]:

      Crystals somehow "know" which shape to grow into.

      or referring to the word itself rather than its associated concept (see link above):

      "Cheese" is derived from a word in Old English.

      There are references other than Wikipedia out there as well...

      • by PatDev (1344467)
        And just to shake up the traditional Slashdot vibe...

        Your citation was helpful. Thanks for the correction. I was wrong to incorrectly mention only those two uses of quotation marks.

        That said, wikipedia lists the following correct uses:
        • direct quotes
        • irony (I called it sarcasm)
        • unusual usage (as mentioned by parent)
        • use-mention distinction (as mentioned by parent
        • titles of works
        • nicknames and false titles (Nat "King" Cole)

        It also mentions the incorrect, but increasingly common amongst the un- or insuffici

  • by brennanw (5761) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:45PM (#39199441) Homepage Journal

    Linus Torvalds is the Harlan Ellison of Linux.

  • Ironic (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @12:45PM (#39199447) Homepage

    But... G+ is a ghost town? Just yesterday, people were saying, oh, gee, why would I even be interested in G+? Now /. is pulling stories directly from there.

    Mmm Hmmm...

    • Just from Linus's feed. Google+ is becoming more like Twitter than Facebook. Just a few users talking to the masses, rather than a ton of users talking to each other.
  • linux on a laptop he should be smart enough to be able to responsibly know and use the root password, he is Linus Torvalds kid for gosh sakes!
    • by msobkow (48369)

      More to the point: if it's the kid's laptop, why don't they already have the root password?

      It sounds like "Dad" is being a bit too controlling about the computers in his home, not that the security is excessive.

  • From Linus's post,

    So here's a plea: if you have anything to do with security in a distro, and think that my kids (replace "my kids" with "sales people on the road" if you think your main customers are businesses) need to have the root password to access some wireless network, or to be able to print out a paper, or to change the date-and-time settings, please just kill yourself now. The world will be a better place.

    This sounds like a post from an anonymous coward on Slashdot!

    • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:10PM (#39199819) Homepage
      Then I'm going to have to start browsing at 0, cause that shit is dead-on.
    • not only a drama queen but pretty foolish too. A business laptop should be locked down. If a user is going to need certain external hardware than it should require an administrator to verify why and do what ever is required for the install. Basically Linus is saying 'if it is inconvenient it should go!' Instead of moaning he should just use a distro with looser standards and not cry about one that is intentionally secure.

      • by gnapster (1401889) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @03:40PM (#39201865)

        A business laptop that is carried five states away to deliver a million-dollar presentation should not have any security barriers that would jepordize that presentation. I would count "Contacting IT back at our headquarters so I can use the WiFi" as just such a barrier.

        Clearly, then, this is not the Year of the OpenSUSE desktop.

  • Back in my day, we copied pages by hand that we needed our own copies of. You're all a bunch of spoiled, lazy brats!
    Now if you'll excuse me, I have a hill to go up in order to get home.
  • BZ: +Linus Torvalds I've got to disagree about the connecting to other networks. We have students that connect to other networks to bypass our internet filtering. It makes it a pain, because they neglect to reconnect to our wireless before logging off. Then other students can't log on or can't connect to their server shares.

    Linus Torvalds - +Blair Z: if you want to restrict people from doing everyday things, make that the uncommon option, and add a checkmark for it.

    Don't force your taliban ways on everyb

  • by dnaumov (453672) on Wednesday February 29, 2012 @01:42PM (#39200287)

    Installing additional hardware on a computer is most definately a function that SHOULD require administrative priviledges on a computer. Sounds like "working as intended".

    • by Mjlner (609829)

      Installing additional hardware on a computer is most definately a function that SHOULD require administrative priviledges on a computer. Sounds like "working as intended".

      Except that connecting your computer to a printer is not installing hardware. Root privileges are only there to protect the integrity of the file system and operating system. If you have physical access to the computer, you already have the possibility of smashing it to smithereens, or compromising the security.

      There is no reason why a properly implemented printing system should be potentially harmful to the OS. The most dangerous action of installing a printer is connecting the USB cable, which could poten

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