A plea about passwords

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A plea about passwords

Postby Spacedog on Mon May 19, 2014 12:35 pm

Can we please install without a password now?

I have tried linux before, back in 2004 I tried to install Ubuntu on a whim. I was disappointed to discover even though I was just mucking about it required me to set up a password.

Whats the big deal I hear you ask? To me it's a very big deal, I gave up immediately with linux and muttered some obscenities about passwords. A decade on I finally tried again with mint with more determination than before, and managed to get past the annoyance of needing a password long enough to see it was actually quite good. It still asked me for a password. All. The. Blinking. Time. I managed to disable most of the prompts via a terminal command, but it still often asks.

Let me try and explain why needing a password is a big deal to me and I'm sure many others like me. To me needing a password on a PC is like putting a password on my drill. Sure it's more secure, but it hampers usability, and usability is paramount.

I fix and sell Windows PCs for a living, and let me paint you a picture of why I wouldn't sell one with Linux on it to Granny Smith down the road, much as I'd like to get out from under the yoke of Microsoft.

Imagine I sell old Granny Smith a shiny new laptop with Linux Mint on it. All good, apart from previously she would just use her Windows PC, now she has to have an extra password. I try and keep things as simple and usable as possible, so I disable as passwords as far as possible. She doesn't want or need them.

A friend comes to visit and wants to show her a new piece of software. He goes to download it and it asks for her password. She enters her e-mail password and it doesn't work. Of course I've told her what the Linux password is but it is written in a book full of old passwords interspersed with scribbled notes on how to write files to a CD in windows. In my book this is complete usability failure. I would never want to risk leaving a customer in this situation, therefore I couldn't in good conscience install Linux for her.

My Windows PC has no password, it works fine. Neither does my phone, it's great too. I use them both for online banking and accessing the cloud all the time. Its more risky I'm sure, but that is my risk to take and I haven't had a problem yet.

I fear the Linux community is like an echo chamber full of people who don't mind being told they need to set a password. There are a great many people out there who take issue with the idea, and see no point in having a password on what is essentially a tool. A device to be used in whatever way is required for the situation.

Pretty please can we have a password free install? I think it could help expand the appeal of Linux and help new users get to grips with it with the minimum of fuss, and I for one would happily start using it for myself and with my customers.
Last edited by Spacedog on Mon May 19, 2014 4:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby austin.texas on Mon May 19, 2014 1:24 pm

Of course, you can set it for auto-login, and you can make a password so easy that no one can forget - how about 1234 ?
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby Spacedog on Mon May 19, 2014 1:33 pm

A password that can't be forgotten? You haven't met my customers. Non computer literate people do not understand these things, and have no wish to take up brain space remembering anything like that. If I'm honest I also have no wish to try and get them to remember either. It should not be necessary to try.

The computer will sometimes ask, however infrequently, and my customers will be stumped.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby wanderer7 on Mon May 19, 2014 1:36 pm

Welcome to the forum, Spacedog. :D

Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you. You're talking about the sudo password, right? It has to be there. Honestly, I can't imagine not having a sudo password. If you want to just log in without having to type the password - that's fine and this can be done. But, if you could enter all the sudo-prefixed commands without a password...no. No way. GNU/Linux is known for its security after all.

If Granny Smith can remember her email password, then why can't she remember the system password too?! I bet Granny Smith won't be "sudoing" all the time either, so what's the problem?
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby tdockery97 on Mon May 19, 2014 1:38 pm

If you have worked with Windows as much as you claim, then you have also spent years trying to locate and remove spyware, malware, and viruses from Windows computers. You don't have to do that in Linux. Why? Because having to use a password to log in, or install/remove applications is needed. You will never convince the majority of Linux users to "do away with" passwords.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby Spacedog on Mon May 19, 2014 1:49 pm

Having a password has no great effect on security for normal users. If they have one on Windows and it is required to install some spyware, they will enter it anyway. The password is only useful for people who understand it's purpose.

It reminds me of when Vista tried to bombard people with UAC screens to do anything. It succeeded only in annoying people to the extent that they turned it off en masse. It was a failure in security terms because people didn't understand the prompt and allowed access anyway.

I have no idea what sudo is, but why can't Linux have a default password built in that is used if no user password is set?
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby wanderer7 on Mon May 19, 2014 1:55 pm

Spacedog wrote:I have no idea what sudo is, but why can't Linux have a default password built in that is used if no user password is set?


Wait. First learn what root is and how powerful it is. Then you'll understand what is sudo and why we need a password.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby Flemur on Mon May 19, 2014 2:07 pm

Do the below for each user in the file and you'll have no passwords:
http://www.ubuntugeek.com/how-to-disabl ... buntu.html

It reminds me of when Vista tried to bombard people with UAC screens to do anything.

'sudo' is much like UAC, but a better implementation of the idea.

If you're going to have people who don't know what passwords are for, using your machine without passwords, be prepared for them to mess it up.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby WinterTroubles on Mon May 19, 2014 2:41 pm

I'm curious as to what granny might be trying to do that requires the password if remembering the password is difficult? Surely if someone can't remember their password or where it's written down then they shouldn't be performing tasks as superuser anyway. How often are broken windows systems due to a user installing or changing something without really knowing what it does, too often in my experience.

That said, linux isn't for everyone and no-one should ever be forced to use an OS they don't want to. If inputting passwords is a deciding factor for yourself or your customers then no-one should object that linux may not be suitable. Personally, since switching to linux, I can't believe why I ever thought that a little warning window (which often NEEDS to be ignored anyway) could ever be thought of as a sensible way to prevent me deleting the kernel accidentally, again my personal thoughts and only of any relevance to me when choosing an OS.

If windows 'like' is the main requirement, then windows is the obvious choice. Why should that be otherwise.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby Spacedog on Mon May 19, 2014 2:45 pm

Flemur wrote:If you're going to have people who don't know what passwords are for, using your machine without passwords, be prepared for them to mess it up.


Welcome to my world.

Honestly I don't see how having a password significantly reduces the chances of them messing things up. They will still do silly things no matter what, and they password would always be 1234 anyway so I hardly thing that would be a great deal more secure.

My phone is Android, a variant of linux is it not? It doesn't need a password. To say it can't be done with a desktop OS seems defeatist.

Regardless requiring a password makes Linux an absolute no sale for me. I cannot do it, I can think of far too many scenarios where people might get stuck without the password.

Too bad, it really is a nice system otherwise.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby WinterTroubles on Mon May 19, 2014 2:57 pm

My phone is Android, a variant of linux is it not? It doesn't need a password. To say it can't be done with a desktop OS seems defeatist.
On your phone you don't have access to the root user account, you simply can't change anything critical in the way you can on a full linux OS. If that kinda functionality is what you want then there is the option to set up limited privileges user accounts and have them auto log in. No need for a password as there is no permission to do anything that would need a password.


Edit.. Have you ever thought that perhaps that choice should be left to the customer, once you've properly informed them on the product of course. Personally I won't buy from someone I believe to be making choices on my behalf anyway.
Last edited by WinterTroubles on Mon May 19, 2014 3:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby Spacedog on Mon May 19, 2014 3:00 pm

Why is a password necessary for that? A UAC style warning that whatever the user is about to do is very dangerous should suffice?
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby WinterTroubles on Mon May 19, 2014 3:05 pm

Spacedog wrote:Why is a password necessary for that? A UAC style warning that whatever the user is about to do is very dangerous should suffice?


Show me someone who has never clicked on something without reading it properly and I'll show you someone who has never used a computer :lol:
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby WinterTroubles on Mon May 19, 2014 3:11 pm

Speaking seriously for a moment, I think you may be under the impression that if a customer forgot their password then you, as a repair provider, would be locked out. This simply isn't true unless they have an encrypted hard drive, using a 'live' version from a disc or USB you would still be able to access the root file system an effect the repair.
Last edited by WinterTroubles on Mon May 19, 2014 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby Spacedog on Mon May 19, 2014 3:11 pm

WinterTroubles wrote:
Edit.. Have you ever thought that perhaps that choice should be left to the customer, once you've properly informed them on the product of course. Personally I won't buy from someone I believe to be making choices on my behalf anyway.


My customers are very loyal and come to me because they trust me to set them up in the best way I can and with the minimum of fuss. They tell me what they want and leave the decision making to me, that's what they pay me for.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby Spacedog on Mon May 19, 2014 3:17 pm

WinterTroubles wrote:Speaking seriously for a moment, I think you may be under the impression that if a customer forgot their password then you, as a repair provider, would be locked out. This simply isn't true unless they have an encrypted hard drive, using a 'live' version from a disc or USB you would still be able to access the root file system an effect the repair.


No that isn't it. My concern is customers being asked for a password when they wanted to try something new, like trying to install a software package on their own. I have disabled all passwords on my install of mint and it still asks when I try to do that.

It also may not be the customer themselves that tries to do it, it may be a friend or relative.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby WinterTroubles on Mon May 19, 2014 3:22 pm

Spacedog wrote:
WinterTroubles wrote:
Edit.. Have you ever thought that perhaps that choice should be left to the customer, once you've properly informed them on the product of course. Personally I won't buy from someone I believe to be making choices on my behalf anyway.


My customers are very loyal and come to me because they trust me to set them up in the best way I can and with the minimum of fuss. They tell me what they want and leave the decision making to me, that's what they pay me for.


Then they are trusting and paying you to provide what you know best and can support through your years of experience, providing them with a product you are unfamiliar with would be poor service anyway it seems.

I'm sure you provide an excellent service to your customers and provide what they ask for, I just fail to see how recommending an OS you are unfamiliar with would be in either your or your customers best interests. If you are really interested in suggesting linux to some of your customers then simply suggest it only to those who seem capable, and be prepared for them to download for free instead of purchasing windows from you.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby WinterTroubles on Mon May 19, 2014 3:34 pm

Like most here I don't see that passwords are a big issue and I'm sure many would agree that installing software definitely needs password protection as unlike windows many linux users using hardware designed to run with a different OS (windows usually) and so software/hardware conflicts do arise, not to mention that linux is a term that covers a multitude of OS's as well as a huge variety of device firmware. There are just to many variables to be sure that 'granny smith' attempt to install from the correct place and the correct version.

I don't expect you to agree with my views and will happily defend your right to serve your customers as you deem is best. we'll probably never agree on this point, but, it'd be a dull world if we agreed with everyone all the time :)
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby Spacedog on Mon May 19, 2014 3:35 pm

WinterTroubles wrote:I'm sure you provide an excellent service to your customers and provide what they ask for, I just fail to see how recommending an OS you are unfamiliar with would be in either your or your customers best interests. If you are really interested in suggesting linux to some of your customers then simply suggest it only to those who seem capable, and be prepared for them to download for free instead of purchasing windows from you.


I would be quite willing to become familiar with linux if it served my needs. The main point of the exercise is to shift people away from Microsoft.
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Re: A plea about passwords

Postby WinterTroubles on Mon May 19, 2014 3:42 pm

The main point of the exercise is to shift people away from Microsoft.
That alone made me smile and wish I could find out what we agree about :D
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