Xscreensaver phylosophy

Juan Cañete jcazor.listas at gmail.com
Tue Sep 2 02:03:08 CEST 2008


I can't lock the screen on a Neo1973 with Debian. This is what the FAQ of xscreensaver says:

 When I'm logged in as root, xscreensaver won't lock my screen!

Don't log in as root.

Please note that xscreensaver works fine as a screen saver when you are logged in as root: it will not, however, lock your screen when you are logged in as root. This is for good and insurmountable security reasons.

In order for it to be safe for xscreensaver to be launched by xdm, certain precautions had to be taken, among them that xscreensaver never runs as root. In particular, if it is launched as root (as xdm is likely to do), xscreensaver will disavow its privileges, and switch itself to a safe user id (such as "nobody".)

An implication of this is that if you log in as root on the console, xscreensaver will refuse to lock the screen (because it can't tell the difference between root being logged in on the console, and a normal user being logged in on the console but xscreensaver having been launched by the xdm "Xsetup" file.)

The solution to this is simple: you shouldn't be logging in on the console as root in the first place! (What, are you crazy or something?)

Proper Unix hygiene dictates that you should log in as yourself, and su to root as necessary. People who spend their day logged in as root are just begging for disaster. 

I don't use XDM nor any display manager, don't want a display manager eating resources and don't want to write to log in (and don't know how to write).

Anybody has a solution to this, excluding the "Don't log in as root" ?

Best regards

Juan Cañete Azorín
hiroshima 45, Tchernobyl 86, Windows 95 ...
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