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Re: GNU su and the wheel group

From: Michael Smith
Subject: Re: GNU su and the wheel group
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2004 11:04:38 +0100

On Mon, 27 Sep 2004 18:41:37 +0200
Tristan Miller <> wrote:

> Apparently there are some versions of su which will refuse to run
> unless the user is a member of the `wheel' group.  GNU su refuses to
> implement this check, because, as per a note from Richard Stallman in
> the info page, 
> > Under the usual `su' mechanism, once someone learns the root
> > password who sympathizes with the ordinary users, he or she can tell
> > the rest.  The"wheel group" feature would make this impossible, and
> > thus cement the power of the rulers.

Stallman is well known for mixing politics and technology, and on most things I 
agree with him. But this attempt to equate having root access with "the power 
of the rulers" is just silly.

I operate a couple of BSD systems which have this type of su command and I am 
sure that the users on my systems are happy that I am the only person who can 
go root. Maybe my little BSD boxes are dictatorships in minature, but this is 
not the real world we are talking about here.
Michael Smith
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