Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Sudo: Why Ubuntu does it right

Filed under
Ubuntu

One of the most famous Linux debates on the internet is over Ubuntu's security model of using sudo to administrate a machine and disabling the traditional root login via su. For many experienced Linux and unix sysadmins, such behavior is strange and foreign, and many people change sudo on Ubuntu to behave like "normal." I, on the other hand, have gradually come to believe that not only is the Ubuntu way good, it is actually better! In this post I'll attemp to explain why. You can read the long-winded official explanation of why Ubuntu uses sudo, but I'll attempt to summarize. Basically, there are two main benefits to the Ubuntu sudo model that I see:

1. Disabling the root account entirely provides an extra layer of security from remote hackers.

2. Using sudo adds an extra layer of abstraction in the security model.

rest here




re: Sudo

Yes, if you're too stupid to understand how permissions work, then I guess typing SUDO EVERYTHING is the only way to protect you from yourself.

Sudo in Ubuntu is no better (or worse) then UAC in Vista.

And disabling root, but leaving sudo enabled DOES NOTHING to increase security.

Personally, my computers work for me, and not the other way around (of course I have a IQ considerably higher then 80, so I'm not the typical user that Unoobtu targets).

re: re: Sudo

Vonskippy wrote:
And disabling root, but leaving sudo enabled DOES NOTHING to increase security.

Yes, the use of sudo has to be the biggest and most unnecessary time-waster in all of Linux.

I've been running Linux for

I've been running Linux for 10 years and never been remote hacked. That is because I dont run as root and use a strong root password. If I got into a ubuntu box couldnt I just sudo anything I wanted?

no, you couldn't,

because the default behavior of sudo in ubuntu is to ask the use to AUTHENTICATE. They need to know the user's password to sudo, but first they need to know the username to login at all. A remote hacker (especially a bot) would have no idea what users are on a system in the first place anyways.

However, you're right, not running as root is the same idea as using sudo. You just open up a shell with su and do your commands, then close the root shell. That is how a good sysadmin works, I'm simply arguing that using sudo is the same idea as that, taken one step further.

Sudo is less secure...

By using the USER password, Sudo is less secure. A better way would be to require a second Sudo password for each user in the sudoers list.

Also, I agree with vonskippy. It simply does nothing to increase security and is just a nuscance like UAC. I also don't like distros that attempt to protect me from myself. This is a Microsoft way of thinking and exactly why security is so lax an home computers. People need to be educated more about them so that they learn how to do it right and not rely on someone else to secure it.

Not the same as UAC

Hi, this is the author of the blog post. I can't believe my blog actually made it to tuxmachines. Big Grin omg I feel special.

Anywho, to address some of the comments, I wasn't really intending to compare sudo to UAC, rather I was comparing it to the tradition su method seen in other linux distros. However.... I cannot stress enough that sudo is NOT the same as vistas UAC. sudo forces you to authenticate, UAC merely asks if you're really sure you want to do that. This is more secure, period. In Linux, the administrator is clearly separated from the user. I am an educated linux user, and I do understand how permissions work, yet I still prefer to use sudo. Why? because I am protecting myself. When I use sudo, I'm saying "this, and only this process may run as root. Here's my password to prove it's okay to do this." When I click on yet another UAC prompt, I'm saying "yes I want to run the stupid program that I JUST TOLD YOU TO RUN. OK."

Also, the protection against remote hackers is less of an issue for a regular desktop and more of an issue for a web server connected directly to the internet. For such a server, this is a very, very, important issue, since you can get bombarded by bots all the time just trying to connect in various ways, simply because the server is there. I've seen it happen.

Family Computer

If I have a family computer where 3-4 people can use it. Do they all have the ability to install/remove software on it using sudo?

re:Family Computer

No, they don't all have access unless you add them to the "admin" group in Ubuntu. When you install Ubuntu, the first account (which is created during the install) is part of this admin group, and has privileges to use sudo. Who can and cannot use sudo to do various tasks can be fine-tuned in the /etc/sudoers file, but by default, only the first user can sudo.

Admin group - enabled by default on Ubunt

scarter4 wrote:
No, they don't all have access unless you add them to the "admin" group in Ubuntu. When you install Ubuntu, the first account (which is created during the install) is part of this admin group, and has privileges to use sudo. Who can and cannot use sudo to do various tasks can be fine-tuned in the /etc/sudoers file, but by default, only the first user can sudo.

OK, there are flaws there. You are assuming that every user is set up as a different user but the gist of the original question, seemed to me, to imply that everyone was using the same login. What then?
I don't use ubuntu. I have one user and root. Anyone in my family can access usr but only I can access root.
What would be the situation on a similar setup in Ubuntu?
I think Ubuntu is flawed in their admin at setup route as most ubuntu users have migrated from Windows and don't do separate user setups. Add in auto login and you have a system open to borks by people fiddling. For this reason I'd never have Ubuntu in a school for example.
User and root is the way to go and if you do want to Sudo then at least prompt for a separate root password.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

More in Tux Machines

University fuels NextCloud's improved monitoring

Encouraged by a potential customer - a large, German university - the German start-up company NextCloud has improved the resource monitoring capabilities of its eponymous cloud services solution, which it makes available as open source software. The improved monitoring should help users scale their implementation, decide how to balance work loads and alerting them to potential capacity issues. NextCloud’s monitoring capabilities can easily be combined with OpenNMS, an open source network monitoring and management solution. Read more

Linux Kernel Developers on 25 Years of Linux

One of the key accomplishments of Linux over the past 25 years has been the “professionalization” of open source. What started as a small passion project for creator Linus Torvalds in 1991, now runs most of modern society -- creating billions of dollars in economic value and bringing companies from diverse industries across the world to work on the technology together. Hundreds of companies employ thousands of developers to contribute code to the Linux kernel. It’s a common codebase that they have built diverse products and businesses on and that they therefore have a vested interest in maintaining and improving over the long term. The legacy of Linux, in other words, is a whole new way of doing business that’s based on collaboration, said Jim Zemlin, Executive Director of The Linux Foundation said this week in his keynote at LinuxCon in Toronto. Read more

Car manufacturers cooperate to build the car of the future

Automotive Grade Linux (AGL) is a project of the Linux Foundation dedicated to creating open source software solutions for the automobile industry. It also leverages the ten billion dollar investment in the Linux kernel. The work of the AGL project enables software developers to keep pace with the demands of customers and manufacturers in this rapidly changing space, while encouraging collaboration. Walt Miner is the community manager for Automotive Grade Linux, and he spoke at LinuxCon in Toronto recently on how Automotive Grade Linux is changing the way automotive manufacturers develop software. He worked for Motorola Automotive, Continental Automotive, and Montevista Automotive program, and saw lots of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) like Ford, Honda, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota in action over the years. Read more

Torvalds at LinuxCon: The Highlights and the Lowlights

On Wednesday, when Linus Torvalds was interviewed as the opening keynote of the day at LinuxCon 2016, Linux was a day short of its 25th birthday. Interviewer Dirk Hohndel of VMware pointed out that in the famous announcement of the operating system posted by Torvalds 25 years earlier, he had said that the OS “wasn’t portable,” yet today it supports more hardware architectures than any other operating system. Torvalds also wrote, “it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks.” Read more