root look & feel

Glen Lee Edwards glen at
Fri Jun 21 16:27:13 BST 2002

On Wednesday 19 June 2002 02:45 am, Adam Luchjenbroers wrote:
> > What on earth is the problem? RIght click on your desktop and
> > choose another wallpaper, as well as another background color, just
> > as you would as any other user.
> Apparently for him it didn't work that way. SuSE is supposed to reset
> the root wallpaper every time X is started
> > I'm on SuSE right now and just tried it, it works perfectly
> > normally.
> Odd, either you have not restarted X, got an old version of SuSE or
> you have found what is technically a bug.
> > Does it really take all that much brain power to figre that out?
> No, but when the simple config tools don't work you need to know a
> bit more to fix the problem.
> > Oh, and by the way: Don't run as root. That's why the ugly wall
> > paper is there, to scare you away.
> Or at least to remind you where you are. It is bad practice to do it,
> if he accidentally deletes some important file or folder it's his
> mistake.
> The practice of using a non-priveleged account not only helps protect
> you from virii and cracking attempts, it protects you from yourself
> as well.
> > Log in as a normal user and use su - and sux to do what you need to
> > as root.
> Well, he's free to do it his own way, though I must admit that is the
> way I normally do it.

I don't intend to start a war, but someone needs to state the obvious: I 
always log in as a user, but most of what I do as the system 
administrator/programmer requires root privileges.  So no matter how 
hard I try to remain as a normal user, within 10 to 15 minutes I am 
forced to log in as root.  Much of what I do during the day requires 
that I do it as root.  Yes, I make mistakes.  Yes, I've deleted 
necessary files (/etc/password on one occasion, the entire web site for 
a client on another - rm -rf in the wrong directory).  Yes, I've caused 
myself major problems.  *But*, the next thing I *have* to do requires 
root privileges or it doesn't get done, and if I don't do it I lose a 
bunch of clients because I'm not providing the service they demand 
(been there,done that).

Doing things the way many on the various lists demand we do them, "never 
log in as root," works only in fairy tales.  In the real world many of 
us live as root.  We just have to learn that there are some things you 
don't do.  And when we do them, and we will, we have to have 
contingency plans for fixing the problem.

I can live with people giving advice, "don't log in as root."  But when 
packagers/programmers start manipulating the way we use the computer, 
such as intentionally making the screen ugly or hard on the eyes when 
we are root, they cross the line.  It's not their decision what we do 
or how we run our system.  I'd love to have a way to make the screen 
ugly every time they sit down to program.  The only thing they 
accomplish on my end is making me wonder why I ever wanted to work with 
computers (not that I don't like computers.  I've just learned that I 
don't like computer geeks and all their manipulation games as they 
program their values into my system).

Which brings up another point - all these spam programs people are 
running:  I have one primary email address I use - glen at  I 
have several computers here that I check mail from using imap.  
Yesterday I tried to subscribe to the Apache users list.  It refused to 
take the address in the from field, glen at, and instead sent 
back an authorization request using the canonical address of my machine 
- glenlee at  I can't do that, because this means I can 
only post to the list from that particular machine.  The bottom line 
is, I use Apache, but I can't get support for it.  If there's a problem 
I have to solve, I'll have to use a different web server.  Apache is 
filtering out spam, but they're also filtering out legitimate users.


PS I'm leaving town today and will be gone for a week, so if this letter 
starts a war, don't interpret my lack of response as anything more than 
what it is - my absence.
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