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Fedora 12 and unprivileged package installation

Fedora 12 and unprivileged package installation

Posted Nov 21, 2009 3:55 UTC (Sat) by AdamW (subscriber, #48457)
Parent article: Fedora 12 and unprivileged package installation

There seem to be quite a lot of misconceptions flying around here.

One: "The responses from Hughes and David Zeuthen ("I'm not interested in this bike-shed or what color it is") in the thread angered quite a few."

It's perfectly sensible for David to say that, because this issue had absolutely nothing to do with David. David is the maintainer of PolicyKit. PolicyKit is a framework for defining policies. It does not, in itself, define any policies. Deciding what the authentication policies should be is not PolicyKit's job, and PolicyKit doesn't do it. So why should David care? His code doesn't set the policy, he was not involved in deciding the policy, and it's not his job to decide the policy.

Two: "Williamson stepped in quickly to stop that:"

Ah, you flatter me. ;) I don't have the power to stop anything. All I can do is express an opinion, based on the declared Fedora policies. I don't have any authority over anyone who posted a private comment in the bug. (I just barely outrank the laboratory mice around here...)

Three: comment from JoeBuck - "It seems clear that there isn't anyone on the PolicyKit team who does what Bruce Schneier (among others) regularly urges: you need someone on your team who can think like a black hat."

Joe, read point one above. PolicyKit is simply a framework. It doesn't define any policies. PolicyKit does absolutely nothing unless applications choose to use it for privilege escalation, rather than using su or sudo or consolehelper or whatever. And it's the _apps_ that define the policies. This policy was defined in PackageKit, not PolicyKit.


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Fedora 12 and unprivileged package installation

Posted Nov 21, 2009 5:30 UTC (Sat) by JoeBuck (guest, #2330) [Link]

OK, I apologize to the PolicyKit people; it is the PackageKit team that needs someone who can think like a black hat.

Fedora 12 and unprivileged package installation

Posted Nov 21, 2009 12:11 UTC (Sat) by hppnq (guest, #14462) [Link]

In general, I would say it is all of them.

Fedora 12 and unprivileged package installation

Posted Nov 21, 2009 16:34 UTC (Sat) by AdamW (subscriber, #48457) [Link]

Sort of a fair point, but for most distributions it's not practical to have a security expert working on every application which could possibly have security implications (...er, just about all of 'em). Hence, as has already been discussed, the improvement needed here is just to ensure that Fedora's processes ensure there's more oversight of potentially sensitive changes to any component. Seth Vidal is already working on a proposal for this.

Security policy expertise

Posted Nov 21, 2009 19:06 UTC (Sat) by PO8 (guest, #41661) [Link]

Wha? Nobody is asking you to have a security expert working on "every application". They're asking you to have a security expert working on the applications which control your security policy. Especially when those applications are new and present unique challenges. Any distro that can't afford that should stick with the tried-and-true UNIX security model and its implementation rather than trying to innovate in the security policy arena.

Fedora 12 and unprivileged package installation

Posted Nov 21, 2009 19:50 UTC (Sat) by MarkWilliamson (subscriber, #30166) [Link]

To be fair, dismissing a legitimate debate as mere bike shedding was perhaps
not a very diplomatic way of phrasing things ;-)

Fedora 12 and unprivileged package installation

Posted Nov 22, 2009 18:30 UTC (Sun) by mattdm (subscriber, #18) [Link]

We need some dismissive term for people who get over-enamored with the bike shed story and subsequently dismiss anyone who disagrees with them as bike shedding.

Fedora 12 and unprivileged package installation

Posted Nov 22, 2009 22:39 UTC (Sun) by dark (guest, #8483) [Link]

When the city council announces plans to demolish the local parks and playgrounds in order to construct bike sheds, the people who jump in with opinions are not just bikeshedding.


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