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Thread: What can be done to generate a lot of interest in Linux from Windows users..?

  1. #11
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    Re: What can be done to generate a lot of interest in Linux from Windows users..?

    Quote Originally Posted by buzzingrobot View Post
    Except for a a few days several weeks ago when I tried to use Windows on a new laptop and gave up because the font rendering was so miserable, I haven't used Windows since 2002. How Windows is structured is not particularly relevant to a discussion of security on Linux/Unix.
    It's highly relevant when you're talking about a system that enjoys 80+% market share, and wanting to capture some of that. Users are comfortable/happy with windows, and don't see linux as a useful alternative. Why? If you don't see how comparing the two is useful to growing linux and making it a viable alternative for more users - then... i don't know what to tell you.

    It isn't the presence of authorization requests that drive people to running as root in either OS. It's laziness and unfamiliarity with (or disregard of) the risks. If someone wants to give themselves more or less permanent ability to alter or remove files that will break their system, they can go for it. Just don't come whining when they screw up.
    Wrong. It's the absolute only reason I run in the admin group in windows. I simply could not do my job as a regular user, not without a ton of headache. A simple google search on the subject will reveal scores of linux users who claim the same thing. Perhaps YOU don't see it that way, but plenty of people do. I agree that on some level it's a matter of learning the system - but if the system is designed in such a way that it's easier to bypass security all together - then how good is the system to begin with? You don't see people doing that in OSX very much. Why? because for all of apple's faults their user experience design is among the best in the world.


    And, finally, as I said, if you say get rid of authorization requests because users are annoyed, then you need to devise an acceptable alternative. Without the system of access rights and permissions, Linux/Unix is as wide open as DOS. Anyone with access -- either direct physical access or over the net -- can do anything they want with your system.
    [/quote]
    I think you're missing the point and taking it as an absolute all-or-nothing proposition. It isn't.
    It's not about stripping the security. It's about, how do you present that security in a way that isn't annoying as all get out. Microsoft arguably handles this horribly, which is why so many users run as an administrator. The result is their systems are comprimised as a result. Ubuntu handles this with these authorization requests which do drive people batty. But again OSX doesn't seem to have that problem as much. You can configure what requires passwords and what doesn't far easier. That's not to say there aren't problems with apple's approach - i personally can't stand them as a company and think they're on part with 90s microsoft as far as "Evil empire" goes, but again their user experience is pretty flawless.

    That's the part that needs to be worked on. If you want to make linux more attractive, make it so anyone can figure it out quickly, easily, and with a pleasant user experience without days and weeks of configuration. Remember the apple tag line from the early 2000s? "It just works", that's what linux needs to do if it's to break more 2% market share on the desktop

  2. #12
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    Re: What can be done to generate a lot of interest in Linux from Windows users..?

    Basically what it comes down to - is I've logged in. I've authenticated. If I tell the system to do something - i shouldn't have to re-authenticate, except in a few very very sensitive cases. The hard part is determining what request was made explicitly by the user, or what was possibly being done without the user's knowledge? Again that's where things like UAC in windows come into play, as it alerts the user that "hey - something is trying to do blah on the system, is this kosher?"

    If one can design a way to distinguish between deliberate user interaction and potentially malicious automated actions - you're in the money.

  3. #13
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    Re: What can be done to generate a lot of interest in Linux from Windows users..?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sinixstar View Post
    It's highly relevant when you're talking about a system that enjoys 80+% market share, and wanting to capture some of that. Users are comfortable/happy with windows...
    Only if you think a product needs to mimic Windows.

    ...I run in the admin group in windows. I simply could not do my job as a regular user, not without a ton of headache. A simple google search on the subject will reveal scores of linux users who claim the same thing. Perhaps YOU don't see it that way, but plenty of people do. I agree that on some level it's a matter of learning the system - but if the system is designed in such a way that it's easier to bypass security all together - then how good is the system to begin with? You don't see people doing that in OSX very much. Why? because for all of apple's faults their user experience design is among the best in the world.
    If you think responding to an authorization request to make fundamental changes to a system is a "ton of headaches", then I suppose you would be willing to risk running as admin in Windows.

    But, people who do that in Windows or Linux are running unnecessary risks. The number of posts from ill-informed people whining about authentication doesn't interest me as the number of posts I see from hapless people who have broken their system.

    OS X is Unix and makes the same authorization requests for the same actions as Linux because it uses the same system of filesystem rights and permissions. Users see fewer authorization prompts because the system is locked down more than Windows or Linux. But, if a user attempts to access files he does not own or have rights to access, he will see the same prompts.

    In essence, any OS that has a filesystem that is visible to users and can be modified by users *requires* some system to prevent accidental or malicious alteration of that filesystem, by people or by errant code. Unix uses a system that assigns limited rights and permission to user accounts, and users access those accounts via authorization. (Doesn't need to be only passwords, but it does need to be authorization.) To alter something my account lacks the permissions to do, I need to temporarily escalate my privileges. Hence, the authorization prompts.

    As long as installing and configuring software requires changing a part of the filesystem users aren't authroized to alter, we will see authoriization prompts. To eliminate that would require writing an entirely new non-Unix OS because that system of rights and permission is rooted that deep in Unix.

    iOS is an example of an OS that prohibits access to the filesystem. Applications handle saving and locating and loading files. This works for iOS because Apple established and enforces strict software design requirements. I think few Windows users and surprisingly few Linux users actually would miss filesystem access (most don't understand it), but I doubt the developer culture in both would allow taking that approach.

  4. #14
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    Re: What can be done to generate a lot of interest in Linux from Windows users..?

    Quote Originally Posted by buzzingrobot View Post
    Only if you think a product needs to mimic Windows.



    If you think responding to an authorization request to make fundamental changes to a system is a "ton of headaches", then I suppose you would be willing to risk running as admin in Windows.

    But, people who do that in Windows or Linux are running unnecessary risks. The number of posts from ill-informed people whining about authentication doesn't interest me as the number of posts I see from hapless people who have broken their system.

    OS X is Unix and makes the same authorization requests for the same actions as Linux because it uses the same system of filesystem rights and permissions. Users see fewer authorization prompts because the system is locked down more than Windows or Linux. But, if a user attempts to access files he does not own or have rights to access, he will see the same prompts.

    In essence, any OS that has a filesystem that is visible to users and can be modified by users *requires* some system to prevent accidental or malicious alteration of that filesystem, by people or by errant code. Unix uses a system that assigns limited rights and permission to user accounts, and users access those accounts via authorization. (Doesn't need to be only passwords, but it does need to be authorization.) To alter something my account lacks the permissions to do, I need to temporarily escalate my privileges. Hence, the authorization prompts.

    As long as installing and configuring software requires changing a part of the filesystem users aren't authroized to alter, we will see authoriization prompts. To eliminate that would require writing an entirely new non-Unix OS because that system of rights and permission is rooted that deep in Unix.

    iOS is an example of an OS that prohibits access to the filesystem. Applications handle saving and locating and loading files. This works for iOS because Apple established and enforces strict software design requirements. I think few Windows users and surprisingly few Linux users actually would miss filesystem access (most don't understand it), but I doubt the developer culture in both would allow taking that approach.
    You don't have to mimic windows. But again - one system has over 80% market share, one is < 2%. You do the math. It's worth at least asking the question. The very first line of the very first post reads as follows: "Getting millions more good folks to switch from Windows to Linux.." To think you're going to do that without doing some comparison between the two systems is laughable.

    I make fundamental changes CONSTANTLY during development. I install things and uninstall things including my own applications for testing regularly. I start and stop services. I access files that would otherwise be off-limits. It is simply not worth my time to do these tasks as a regular user. You think i'm running unnecessary risks. In reality i'm simply doing my job. I'm not worried about unauthorized code running because more often than not the code i'm running is my own. I don't have to worry about someboy sneaking something nasty in - because i wrote it.

    AGAIN - you are completely and totally missing the point. I am not talking about undoing permissions. I am not talking about changing the underlying methodology of the system. I'm talking about changing the user experience to be less annoying for simple day to day tasks. I do not need protection from myself. I'm a big boy, i don't even wear diapers anymore. If i want to install something, I want to install it. Why on earth do I need some naggy big brother over my shoulder asking me if i'm sure?

    I also think you're confusing authentication with authorization. I've logged into the system, i've provided my password. I'm authenticated. The system knows who I am, and knows I've authenticated. You can still enforce an authorization model based on that authentication without bugging the user for his/her password. Again - it's about the user experience, NOT the underlying system. Those authorization requests you talk about happen every single time you attempt to access any file or run any application. The difference being the vast majority of those requests take place in the background, and do not require additional authentication to validate. Why? because to do so would render a system virtually unusable with all the authentication requests. Again - see Windows Server as an example. Even logged in as an admin with the highest level of permissions you have to constantly elevate to execute even mundane tasks for security purposes. Why? for exactly the reasons you mention - prevent someone from totally hosing their system accidentily, and prevent unauthorized malicious code. In that environment it makes sense. For the average every day user it does not. There is a happy medium to be found - that MUST be found if you want to appeal to the broader market.
    Last edited by Sinixstar; October 12th, 2013 at 05:44 PM.

  5. #15
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    Re: What can be done to generate a lot of interest in Linux from Windows users..?

    also - i don't really see the way it's handled in linux as saving people from themselves. It doesn't take much to type "sudo" or enter a password. If someone is unaware that what they're about to do could blow up their system, they're not going to think twice about jumping through the hoop to get there. It might prevent some small level of accidental problems - but it's hardly going to stop someone from say editing a config file. So instead of just running gedit you type "sudo gedit" in terminal and continue making your boneheaded change. Not exactly a safety net.

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