Virus free desktop

John Davidorff Pell johnpell at
Thu Nov 20 18:50:37 GMT 2003

On Nov 19, 2003, at 7:15 PM, Robert P. Goldman wrote:

>> "John" == John Davidorff Pell <johnpell at> writes:
>>> What you'd need to do is to forbid the user ever to create
>>> instructions that are executed by the system (or cripple the 
>>> available
>>> set of instructions really, really, badly).  This means no macros in
>>> your spreadsheets, etc., etc.
>>     Does anyone ever actually use ANY MACRO that does ANYTHING
>>     more than move some data around the spreadsheet, or copy it
>>     to another sheet? If you use a MACRO to do anything more
>>     than simple stuff like that then you're begging for a simple
>>     typo to wide out some important stuff!
>>     Also, isn't a MACRO (and I'm not talking about in M$ Orifice
>>     where MACROs are written in VB) just a script? Why couldn't
>>     you write and run a complete script as a non-privileged
>>     user??
> Well, you can, but that doesn't make it a virus-free desktop, since if
> you have macros, and you have people sending you email, which could
> contain macros.  You do something with the macro-containing email, it
> mails itself to a zillion other people and, hey presto!, a virus.
> Viruses don't need root privilege.  That's why I think this idea is
> goofy.

You're correct, but iThink that you are missing what I am saying. From 
my point of view, there is NO reason to allow a MACRO to send anything 
to anyone in your address book. ever. Thus, take out this functionality 
from the scripting language used to write MACROs in whatever 
spreadsheet (or other office) program that you use. Thus, less viruses 
that can do anything!

You can take out similar functions from the script's capabilities and 
end up with no *actual* lost functionality, and a *much* more secure 
system. Obviously there are things that you use that I don't, and vice 
versa, but there are many things that are just gratuitous toys built in 
to the language. Does that make sense?


John Davidorff Pell
johnpell at

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