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Beginner Linux Question

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  • Partition
  • Linux
Last response: in Linux/Free BSD
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July 15, 2006 2:57:43 AM

I just installed Ubuntu on a $5 laptop and it runs faster than any other computer in my house! (all of which have windows)

Anyway, I basicly know nothing about how to use Linux. Here are a few questions:

The user account I made in the installation is the root user, right? If it is, then I should rarely use it, right? That's just what I heard, but why? I set up a bunch of preferences and stuff, and downloaded some stuff, but I don't want to do it all over again with the second account, so can I move everything over or something?

Also, I tried partitioning my hard disk during the installation, but it wouldn't work, so I just went with default partitioning. I guess there is a swap partition and Partition 1 (root?). Now I am trying to partition the disk with the OS installed. How would I go about doing this? Should I make a partition for the OS and then a partition for my files?

And about security. Is it true that there is no spyware or viruses for Linux? So I don't need to get blockers? What about a firewall? I don't want the firewall to slow my system down.

Thanx

More about : beginner linux question

a b 5 Linux
July 15, 2006 3:53:45 AM

Actually, unlike Windows, the account you use from the get-go in Linux is not root (administrator). If it were, at the login screen, you'd enter "root" as the username. If you are doing this, something went a bit odd in the installation.

Why should you not use root for day to day use? Windows does this by default, and as such, any time that a vunerability is exploited, they exploit has unfettered access to the machine. If it were only a simple user account, it would destroy the personal data of the user at worst, but would not harm the system. While there are many more exploits in Windows than in even an older, unpatched Linux installation, it only takes one exploit as root to bring the whole thing down. Also, the more down-to-earth and realistic answer is that in case you do something without thinking, it is less likely to be catestrophic (no offense, but this is much more likely to occur when you are just starting out and are getting used to things.)

To access the root account you would either login as root from the login prompt (not advisable for the afore mentioned reasons) or open a prompt, type in "su" and then to root password, do what it is that needs root access, then type "exit" to get back to userland. Note than many of the graphical apps that require root access will automatically prompt you for root password. Another possibility is "sudo command you want to run"

Root account access is usually required for installing new softwrae for all users to use, doing work with the kernel or kernel modules, and dealing with shared resources such as desktop themes for all users. Try to limit use to such activities.

As for the partitioning scheme, I would say for the first install, just leave it as it is. There are some that suggest various partitioning schemes (as a matter of fact, there is a recent topic in this very area of the forum if you wish to look it over), but generally speaking some of the common partitioning schemes call for a separate partition for the /home directory (so that upon upgrade of the OS, no user data is lost), the /boot (unmount after boot so as to protect the boot stuff from corruption), /var (to keep your logs separate from other files), etc. Really though, for a first install, two partitions, one for / and one for the swap is sufficient. If you still wish to make other partitions, I would suggest either installing qtparted (through the "Add/Remove" program right on the main menu) or downloading and burning the gparted livecd then rebooting with the disc in the drive. It's super easy to use, all graphical.

As for security, it is true that there isn't spyware and it is incredibly difficult to get a virus. It is still possible if you download and run arbitrary stuff floating in the darkest corners of the internet/IRC/usenet in the same way that it is possible to die tomorrow from beestings. Possible but highly improbably. The best advice? don't run/install anything that looks suspicious and, after you feel fairly comfortable with the system, install the Boot Up Manager (BUM) to remove any unused services from the startup sequence (fewer possible holes to enter).

Sorry it's a bit long, but I tried to make it all pertinent.
July 15, 2006 4:39:11 AM

Thanx for the reply :) 
And a firewall? Do I need one?
a b 5 Linux
July 15, 2006 5:20:56 AM

It wouldn't hurt (it would keep out the attacks on those holes)

What do I mean by attacks on the "holes"? Let me explain by example: ssh is a very common tool for logging into and using machines remotely (kinda like telnet or Remote Desktop without the graphics). Since there's a root account on all Linux/BSD/Unix machines, Let's suppose you have the ssh server (usually called a daemon) running and allowing root logins. There are always people just scanning the internet (script kiddies) looking for open ssh ports that are listening (you) When they find you, they try what's called a hyda attack (many heads = multiple login attempts per second via multiple connections) Guess which account they will try since they know it exists? root. If you have a weak password (like a word or two) it will likely discover your root password given a few hours.

Now, what can you do to prevent this? A few options exist here. A firewall (like you said), either hardware (if you already have one) or a software one (I like firestarter, really easy to install and use). Another great thing to do is to stop the services you don't need (like I stated before) so that the "holes" (ports) aren't even open or listening anymore. A combination of these two will stop almost all the baddies out there (many more easier machines to get), but you can further this along with some good security policies (can google this, a fine example is preventing direct root logins if you want to keep the ssh daemon or sshd running). The ultimate in secure (and impracticality) is unpluging the machine from the internet. :) 

Sorry, this one was a bit long too. Getting better, this one was shorter, but I won't compromise for brevity at the cost of proper edification.

Cheers.
July 16, 2006 1:34:00 AM

Ok, so I installed Firestarter, but a warning message came up saying "If you have a router/firewall, please cherck that you have port 10040 UDP open. Decentralised tracking requires this." I think it has something to do with Azurius. The only thing I could find about opening ports on firestarter is that it is really easy or something like that (how ironic). So how would I do it?
a b 5 Linux
July 16, 2006 7:12:00 AM

Quote:
Ok, so I installed Firestarter, but a warning message came up saying "If you have a router/firewall, please cherck that you have port 10040 UDP open. Decentralised tracking requires this." I think it has something to do with Azurius. The only thing I could find about opening ports on firestarter is that it is really easy or something like that (how ironic). So how would I do it?




You can add a rule to allow 10040 UDP in firestarter.




or

iptables -A RH-Firewall-1-INPUT -p udp -m udp --dport 10040 -j ACCEPT # maybe

GL :-D
July 22, 2006 1:12:54 AM

Sorry for the late post but...

I don't understand, the firestarter image doesn't show port 16879. And the third option down, the forwarding block is locked for me. It's only for routers right?
a b 5 Linux
July 22, 2006 6:16:44 AM

Quote:
Sorry for the late post but...

I don't understand, the firestarter image doesn't show port 16879. And the third option down, the forwarding block is locked for me. It's only for routers right?




Just click on add rule to add a new firewall rule.

GL :-D
a b 5 Linux
July 22, 2006 1:39:31 PM

Ubuntu is kind of different in the fact that there is no root account. Logging in as root would NOT work. How Ubuntu is set up, the first normal user is in the "wheel" group so that they execute root commands solely through sudo. The Ubuntu devs say that this approach is more secure as you are not likely to a.) accidentally issue commands as root in a root shell, thinking that you are back to a normal user, and b.) for things like ssh, if there's no root account, then the cracker must guess your username as well as password, making that much, much harder.
a b 5 Linux
July 22, 2006 2:51:03 PM

Actually, there is a root account, it is just not allowed to log in via the Gnome Display Manager ( I failed to check that before posting that you could. I suppose it's still possible, but not before editing the gdm.conf file). You can become root in the terminal with the "su" command.

As for ssh, what they have done is what I do as well, you disable the ability to log into the box as root, i.e. you must first log in as a user then change to root. It is not possible to have a Linux/BSD system without some form of a root account.
a b 5 Linux
July 22, 2006 3:05:13 PM

Hmm. When I used a Ubuntu machine, gnome-terminal wouldn't let me just straight "su" so I thought that the account was in fact truly disabled. But you are right with the gnd.conf deal- it is just very well hidden. I have also changed my boxes in the past to not allow ssh v1 or root logins with the sshd conf file as most of time they have not been disabled.
July 23, 2006 5:54:24 PM

Actually you can login as root with the GUI.

sudo passwd root

THen make a password and login
a b 5 Linux
July 23, 2006 9:30:15 PM

Try to do that on a default Ubuntu install and you will be promptly told that root GUI logins are not permitted, as it is blocked in the gdm.conf file. Please read all comments before posting.
a b 5 Linux
July 25, 2006 2:16:36 AM

Quote:
Try to do that on a default Ubuntu install and you will be promptly told that root GUI logins are not permitted, as it is blocked in the gdm.conf file. Please read all comments before posting.



Yes indeed, on most distros you can log into the GUI as root, but not Ubuntu.

:-D
July 26, 2006 3:53:15 PM

Quote:
Try to do that on a default Ubuntu install and you will be promptly told that root GUI logins are not permitted, as it is blocked in the gdm.conf file. Please read all comments before posting.


Huh? Before my post on how to login as root, I had already tried it and it worked, and it still works now.[/i]
a b 5 Linux
July 26, 2006 5:48:56 PM

At the first screen you come to after booting the computer ("GDM", the login screen), you're able to enter "root" and the root password to graphically log in? By default (on my install and others) ubuntu doesn't allow root logins that way.
July 26, 2006 8:50:33 PM

Oh sorry I forgot I did something else too:

System -> Administration -> Login Window ->Security tab -> Allow administrator login
a b 5 Linux
July 26, 2006 9:06:24 PM

Quote:
Oh sorry I forgot I did something else too:

System -> Administration -> Login Window ->Security tab -> Allow administrator login



Ahhh, that explains it!!!

:-D
a b 5 Linux
July 27, 2006 6:41:59 PM

Oh sure, use the logcally name graphical app to change a setting buried in a config file ;)  And to think, just a few weeks ago you knew nothing of Linux.
a b 5 Linux
July 27, 2006 7:41:41 PM

Quote:
Oh sure, use the logcally name graphical app to change a setting buried in a config file ;)  And to think, just a few weeks ago you knew nothing of Linux.



Good one! :-D

July 28, 2006 12:27:05 AM

Quote:
Oh sure, use the logcally name graphical app to change a setting buried in a config file ;)  And to think, just a few weeks ago you knew nothing of Linux.


Thanks, but I didn't figure it out myself. I had help from my old friend Google 8)
a b 5 Linux
July 28, 2006 7:08:34 AM

Quote:
Oh sure, use the logcally name graphical app to change a setting buried in a config file ;)  And to think, just a few weeks ago you knew nothing of Linux.


Thanks, but I didn't figure it out myself. I had help from my old friend Google 8)


Aye, Google is definitely our friend :-D

The also run Linux :-D
!