root (Neo Security)

Christopher White chris at
Fri Jan 11 14:38:10 CET 2008

The basic filesystem should be protected.  Given that OpenMoko is open,
I can install any app I choose, which is great and the entire reason I'm
here.  But I'm going to be much more reluctant to install an app that I
did not write if it's going to run as root all the time.  

Assuming I fully trust the good intentions of the app developer, one bug
that accidentally deletes some key system files (open as "w" instead of
"r") and my phone becomes a brick.  If that app were constrained to a
user account, the worst it could do would be to screw up user data, the
phone would still function.

Relax that assumption about trust -- something I'll likely be doing
because I don't know any of you out there on the openmoko list
personally, and we've got a problem.  A malicious user can put all kinds
of stuff in place so simply with full root access.  But it need not even
be a malicious user.  What about an app that decides that it's much
easier just to change this system file rather than the proper approach
that takes longer to implement?  I as a user install this cool new app,
it rewrites a system config file without asking me, and suddenly other
stuff doesn't work right.

Things can go south quickly this way.  It's just plain bad practice.
Root is for system installation and maintenance.  User accounts (even if
just one user) is for run-time.


On Fri, 2008-01-11 at 13:56 +0100, Schmidt András wrote:
> In my opinion there is nothing that the root account can protect on a 
> single user handheld device.
> Phones are normally used single user.
> When an application gets the rights for that user then it can access all 
> personal information and all network resources (Wifi, GSM network). What 
> else remains? What resource would you protect with the root account?
> SA
> Nick Guenther wrote:
> > On Jan 10, 2008 2:58 PM, Denis <shulyaka at> wrote:
> >   
> >> Are user applications and GUI run as root? If yes, is it safe? What is
> >> the root password in OpenMoko, by the way?
> >>
> >>     
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> community at

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