Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

All Gurus once were Newbies
Forum rules
There are no such things as "stupid" questions. However if you think your question is a bit stupid, then this is the right place for you to post it. Please stick to easy to-the-point questions that you feel people can answer fast. For long and complicated questions prefer the other forums within the support section.
Before you post please read how to get help
Locked
User avatar
wutsinterweb
Level 5
Level 5
Posts: 645
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:14 am
Location: Connecticut, USA

Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by wutsinterweb » Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:11 am

I am preparing for a possible repair of a Linux install I did for someone. I've never seen the error before (when trying to boot, screen says "No Boot OS" or something close to that). I read a thread that might be a fix:

https://itsfoss.com/no-bootable-device-found-ubuntu/

But I want to do all the legwork I can and be as knowledgeable for my friend that I did this for. My question: As I understand with my learning so far, all command lines that could destroy a boot parition would require root level access. Am I correct? I see these:

(ATTENTION NOOBIES: PLEASE READ: DO NOT RUN THESE!)

https://www.tecmint.com/10-most-dangero ... -on-linux/

What I am preparing for is a possible situation where he ran as root (I warned him to not do so nor give his dad that information/password) where he did something to it. I highly doubt that happened, but if it did, it is beyond my knowledge so far and I need to know my Ps and Qs if I challenge him. I'm still learning stuff and there is so much to learn.

Background: it is is father's computer and his dad, who is old, can't manage to stay away from adult websites and using Windows he got infected 3 times so I told him we should scold him, keep admin from him, and try a well locked down Linux (I mod'd hosts, used firejail, used UFW, Anti Mining, Ghostery, and I forget what else I did, and wonder what else I could do, in the future).

I'd wash my hands of this after this coming time, but he's a friend after all and he's buying me groceries (which I need badly, so it's a win-win).
I'm just a student, your guidance is appreciated.

User avatar
catweazel
Level 17
Level 17
Posts: 7087
Joined: Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:44 pm
Location: Australian Antarctic Territory

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by catweazel » Thu Mar 08, 2018 2:06 am

wutsinterweb wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:11 am
But I want to do all the legwork I can and be as knowledgeable for my friend that I did this for. My question: As I understand with my learning so far, all command lines that could destroy a boot parition would require root level access. Am I correct?
Pretty much, though an errant update could also do it however it requires the root password.
¡uʍop ǝpısdn sı buıɥʇʎɹǝʌǝ os ɐıןɐɹʇsnɐ ɯoɹɟ ɯ,ı

Mute Ant
Level 13
Level 13
Posts: 4918
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:45 pm

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by Mute Ant » Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:32 am

"Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?" Not while they are a non-root-user-in-Linux no. They can only write inside folders they own...
$HOME
/run/user/$UID
...and the 'sticky' shared folders...
/tmp
/var/tmp
...so they can delete their Firefox bookmarks, or crash their GUI session, or set black text on a black background, but the OS stays intact.

You are not getting a Linux error, it's from the motherboard which can't find anything to boot. That can result from a novice telling the BIOS to only boot from DVD, for example, or a SATA cable poorly connected to the drive, or something horrible like a complete drive failure.

It's no secret that you can boot a Live Session Linux and be root or sudo whenever you like.

Before Mint18 you could modify the boot to start as root without any extra tools.
Data stored in an encrypted volume will only be accessible with the original password. Without this key, all the data will remain scrambled beyond hope of recovery.

User avatar
wutsinterweb
Level 5
Level 5
Posts: 645
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:14 am
Location: Connecticut, USA

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by wutsinterweb » Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:26 am

Could Linux cause a drive to fail? That would be bizarre that it happened right after I did this.

Think then it IS what this thread talks about:

https://itsfoss.com/no-bootable-device-found-ubuntu/
I'm just a student, your guidance is appreciated.

Mute Ant
Level 13
Level 13
Posts: 4918
Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 7:45 pm

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by Mute Ant » Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:18 pm

"Could Linux cause a drive to fail?" Yes, but not in any special way. Approximate summary...
Every day there's a 1-in-3000 chance a drive fails permanently. Half of those failures occur without any previous indication of a problem.
Data stored in an encrypted volume will only be accessible with the original password. Without this key, all the data will remain scrambled beyond hope of recovery.

User avatar
pbear
Level 5
Level 5
Posts: 564
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:25 pm
Location: San Francisco

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by pbear » Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:47 pm

wutsinterweb wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:26 am
That would be bizarre that it happened right after I did this.
This is a common fallacy of statistical reasoning. When a drive fails, the user will be doing something or will have just done something. That something doesn't become the cause of failure merely because of the coincidence in timing.

BTW, if the machine booted after you did the install, that's completely different from the problem described in the linked article.
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
Running Mate 18.3 64 bit (by upgrade from 18.1-2)

User avatar
Spearmint2
Level 15
Level 15
Posts: 5719
Joined: Sat May 04, 2013 1:41 pm
Location: Maryland, USA

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by Spearmint2 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:00 pm

Why didn't you set up a user account as Guest for dear old Dad? You could then be sure he was not part of the sudo group. It sounds like you didn't restrict the account he uses from sudo ability.
All things go better with Mint. Mint julep, mint jelly, mint gum, candy mints, pillow mints, peppermint, chocolate mints, spearmint,....

User avatar
wutsinterweb
Level 5
Level 5
Posts: 645
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:14 am
Location: Connecticut, USA

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by wutsinterweb » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:36 pm

pbear wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:47 pm
wutsinterweb wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:26 am
That would be bizarre that it happened right after I did this.
This is a common fallacy of statistical reasoning. When a drive fails, the user will be doing something or will have just done something. That something doesn't become the cause of failure merely because of the coincidence in timing.

BTW, if the machine booted after you did the install, that's completely different from the problem described in the linked article.
Also, the laptop IS an recent model ACER.

I hope the drive didn't fail because that would make them put it on me.

That tutorial indicates that you permit a particular file, so it might be the problem, after rebooting a couple times it may have reverted a setting in BIOS, or even they messed with something.

I did create a Guest account, but the son has the other passwords, and God only knows what happened.

I'll be stressing out until I get it and look.
I'm just a student, your guidance is appreciated.

User avatar
Spearmint2
Level 15
Level 15
Posts: 5719
Joined: Sat May 04, 2013 1:41 pm
Location: Maryland, USA

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by Spearmint2 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:38 pm

"A bird in the hand" and all that. Not much more can be done till you have it available.
All things go better with Mint. Mint julep, mint jelly, mint gum, candy mints, pillow mints, peppermint, chocolate mints, spearmint,....

User avatar
wutsinterweb
Level 5
Level 5
Posts: 645
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:14 am
Location: Connecticut, USA

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by wutsinterweb » Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:43 pm

But you just DID help, help me know some things to look for. It would have taken more some more time to have thought of them, you helped me a lot I think. The battery bank must have been allowed to go dead and CMOS reset defaults.

Need to see if it will let me install a non Windows in UEFI, off of USB thumb drive, I thought that was impossible, though. I think we are on to something here.
I'm just a student, your guidance is appreciated.

User avatar
AZgl1500
Level 8
Level 8
Posts: 2299
Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2015 3:20 am
Location: Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plains
Contact:

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by AZgl1500 » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:03 pm

wutsinterweb wrote:
Thu Mar 08, 2018 4:43 pm
But you just DID help, help me know some things to look for. It would have taken more some more time to have thought of them, you helped me a lot I think. The battery bank must have been allowed to go dead and CMOS reset defaults.

Need to see if it will let me install a non Windows in UEFI, off of USB thumb drive, I thought that was impossible, though. I think we are on to something here.
I am using an ASUS TP500 series laptop and it has the UEFI in the bios...
I used the F2 key to enter the BIOS, and then selected the drive that I wanted to boot up off of, and that was the USB.
But that won't actually allow it to boot up straight into the USB drive, that only enabled the F11 key to be used to select the Bootup Drive.


The key to the BIOS settings on these newer PCs is that the external drive MUST BE connected at the time you are trying to reconfigure the BIOS. I have found over and over again, that settings that I made with the USB drive connected, just disappear totally and go back to the Default settings if the USB drive is not attached.

After a lot of frustration, I was able to learn that to configure parts of the BIOS requires that you 1st make another setting to "enable that new setting" in a different tab..... I found that out, by meticulously reading every little help popup message that showed up.... took pictures with my camera so I could enlarge them enough to read what was said, and analyse what they meant. I finally got this laptop to stay in Legacy Mode non-EUFI.... it was a struggle but finally got it done.

Luck to you

User avatar
wutsinterweb
Level 5
Level 5
Posts: 645
Joined: Tue Feb 28, 2017 2:14 am
Location: Connecticut, USA

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by wutsinterweb » Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:55 pm

That is important to know, that I may have to have the thumb drive plugged in again, thank you!

I don't like what UEFI has done to computing, or rather, really Secure boot that is, UEFI is another animal and it's a PITA too.

ANYONE with warnings, anecdotes, or advice/stories please share. Sometimes we don't know what may help others, ideas engender other ideas.

Unfortunately, I cannot take photos with my old Cell phone, the lens will not focus now, long story, but photos are very blurry if not at the perfect distance of the focal range (of the stuck position of the lens system).
I'm just a student, your guidance is appreciated.

User avatar
Pierre
Level 17
Level 17
Posts: 7293
Joined: Fri Sep 05, 2008 5:33 am
Location: Perth, AU.

Re: Can non root user destroy Linux install in any way?

Post by Pierre » Thu Mar 08, 2018 9:29 pm

Hi wutsinterweb,
you've got the same issue on this thread too:
viewtopic.php?f=46&t=265261
and it does pay to *not* double post, as you can get multiple replies on your issue,
& which can cause you to receive incorrect advise.

- - Please Stay with the same thread for your issue - -
Image
Please edit your original post title to include [SOLVED] - when your problem is solved!
and DO LOOK at those Unanswered Topics - - you may be able to answer some!.

Locked

Return to “Newbie Questions”