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Old 01-05-2009, 06:58 PM
"Cody A.W. Somerville"
 
Default Are system policies too restrictive?

Forwarding original e-mail from u-d-d:

On Fri, Jan 2, 2009 at 6:01 PM, Chris Coulson <chrisccoulson@googlemail.com> wrote:

Hi,



I came across a bug report recently where users were having problems

authenticating with PolicyKit from tools such as users-admin, because

the 'Unlock' button was greyed out. After some debugging, it seemed that

all affected users were logged in via a VNC session. Because the VNC

session was not on the active console, users could not authenticate with

Policykit, because of the default Ubuntu policy. I closed the bug

report, as Policykit was doing it's job, and I pointed out to the

affected users that they can change the system policy if they want.



It seems that this is confusing users that are logging in from a remote

console. In the pre-Hardy days when Policykit didn't exist, users could

launch any admin tool and authenticate with gksu whether they were on a

local or remote console. This has changed now, and results in a loss of

functionality for those users who log in on a remote console. We now

have to be on the active local console to do pretty much anything, from

adding/removing users to adjusting the clock.



I can understand why certain actions are restricted to users logged in

to the active local console (such as shutting down/rebooting/suspending

the machine, mounting/unmounting removable media, accessing certain

hardware devices such as sound cards/web-cams), but I'm not sure why the

default policy should prevent administrators from changing system

settings (such as adding users, changing the system time etc.) when they

are logged in from a remote console.



The extra policies that appeared in Intrepid for the new Jockey seem to

be a lot more sane than existing policies. For example, they allow

administrators to install or remove device drivers regardless of whether

they're on the local console or not. I think this is how some of the

other policies should be.



What do you think? Are the default policies too restrictive?



Regards

Chris


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In my opinion, I don't think graying out the unlock box is correct under any, if not most, circumstances. Instead, when the user clicks the unlock button they should be presented with the same authentication box and they (or in most use cases, another user who does have permission) can attempt to authenticate and be presented with the reason why they can not and what they have to do to be able to do so (ie. be logged in locally, seek an administrator, etc.).


However, back to your OT about the default restrictions being too strict, I personally have no strong feelings either way. I suppose its a question of if we should make it easy or not to allow the user to shoot themselves in the foot or not by default.


Cheers,
--
Cody A.W. Somerville
Software Systems Release Engineer
Custom Engineering Solutions Group
Canonical OEM Services
Cell: 506-449-5899
Email: cody.somerville@canonical.com


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