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elementary OS now allows updates without admin permission

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As part of the ongoing work to reduce authentication fatigue, the elementary OS team are going over everything with a fine-tooth comb to ensure asking for admin / root permission makes sense.

One idea they came up with, which appears to be integrated into elementary OS 5.1.5 'Hera', is the removal of needing to enter the admin password when you're doing updates with the AppCenter. The question is why? As they explained, you already gave your full permission to install the applications originally and that they "provide clear expectations around curated versus non-curated apps" so they felt it didn't make sense to authenticate again just to do updates.

I like the idea and hope it doesn't somehow backfire. Authentication fatigue can be a very real thing. It's the same as the cookie banners a lot of websites have because of all their external stuff loading in, I imagine clicking them away without even looking is now what the majority do because it's constantly there.

Another really nice change is how images are copied in their file manager. Copying an image in Files and then pasting into a program like an image editor, will now actually paste the image in (if possible) and not a file path. That's quite a handy accessibility update and one I love the sound of. On top of that their file manager will also now show a file info overlay while in the list view which is a nice tweak.

elementary OS has the kind of attention to the finer details that I wished every Linux distribution had.

If you're interested in what else the crew have been up to, check out their latest update post. For more info on elementary OS check the official site. They go for a pay what you want method for downloading their ISO, you can support them with as much or as little as you like (even zero), it's certainly a different way to support a Linux distribution but it appears to work well for them.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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13 comments
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The best thing they can do is the same thing Ubuntu or Linux Mint does : ask the user once when the system is installed, and give the possibility of changing the behaviour in the administration panel.
Patola 5 Jun
Authentication fatigue is not the only reason. When you require a password too many times, it stops being something to pay attention to. So requiring no password for a task where it would be just mindlessly entered without verifying anything is better for security; important tasks which actually require some inspection would get more attention.
Liam Dawe 5 Jun
Quoting: PatolaAuthentication fatigue is not the only reason. When you require a password too many times, it stops being something to pay attention to.
That's part of what authentication fatigue actually is ;)


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 5 June 2020 at 10:39 am UTC
WorMzy 5 Jun
Personally I swing the other way. I should be prompted for admin credentials every time I do something outside the scope of a regular user.

I have timestamp_timeout=0 set in my sudoers defaults for this very reason. I also have targetpw set, because it shouldn't be my user password that unlocks admin mode.
scaine 5 Jun
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I paste this into /etc/sudoers on every single install I do.

# Allows certain command to run without a password
scaine ALL=(root) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/apt update
scaine ALL=(root) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/apt dist-upgrade
scaine ALL=(root) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/apt auto-remove
scaine ALL=(root) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/purge-old-kernels

Although since I've moved to Mint, I find the GUI for updates is pretty good, so I don't do my command-line maintenance anywhere near as much.
dvd 5 Jun
Well i think on most distros you can enable automatic upgrades, that's what i usually do on the stable variants, as they tend not to break (ever) with upgrades.
CatKiller 5 Jun
QuoteOne idea they came up with, which appears to be integrated into elementary OS 5.1.5 'Hera', is the removal of needing to enter the admin password when you're doing updates with the AppCenter.
Ubuntu already did this, somewhere around the 12.04 cycle.
Creak 5 Jun
I actually like the Flatpak system for that: because of its architecture, it can't break your system, so it is useless to ask for the admin password, both for upgrading and installing.

But Flatpaks are made for non-system applications (i.e. GUI), so the Elementary OS rational is also very relevant IMO.
randyl 5 Jun
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Quoting: dvdWell i think on most distros you can enable automatic upgrades, that's what i usually do on the stable variants, as they tend not to break (ever) with upgrades.
It's good to hear this. Fedora has an auto-upgrade option or plug-in through dnf. Flatpak already automatically updates which is a recent change I like. I still manually upgrade dnf repos through the terminal because I like seeing seeing what is being updated and changed. It's good to see other distros adopting auto-update behavior too.

The future, at least for mainstream OS's, will be immutable system images in a containerized app environment, like Fedora Silverblue, CoreOS, and others. That's a short ways down the road though.


Last edited by randyl on 5 June 2020 at 5:46 pm UTC
Quoting: randylThe future, at least for mainstream OS's, will be immutable system images in a containerized app environment, like Fedora Silverblue, CoreOS, and others.
(Little kid voice) Why?
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