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SubjectRe: disk-destroyer.c
On Fri, 21 Jul 2000, Stuart MacDonald wrote:

>> whatsoever. However, since it's possible to fry other hardware,
>> too, why bother with this problem???
>..allows root programs to physically...
>Regular users have no such access.
>> The fact of the matter is, that it is wrong for a program to
>> destroy hardware. It is the kernel's job to ensure that it
>> can't. It is pure laziness to ignore the issue.
>The point is that it is impossible for the kernel to ensure
>that root cannot fry the hardware. All it can do is make it very
>difficult. root is always allowed to access the hardware directly.

Which brings up another VERY valid point. Is Linux not
eventually heading in the direction of having the possibility of
having a system with *NO* root user? If *NO* user can hit the
hardware, they *HAVE* to go through the kernel.

Please someone, counter this argument. Is the capability system
there for a reason or no? Once root is done away with, how will
"root" who might as well be "potato" do direct I/O?

>> My feeling is that we should try to avoid all possible ways of
>> accidentally or maliciously breaking parts. We can start out
>> by fixing the IDE subsystem, and then go on to others. Just
>> because other stuff is broken, too, doesn't mean that we should
>> give up.
>Other stuff is "broken" in the same way. I believe it's an artifact
>of the firmware architecture, but I could be wrong.

Things that can potentially harm hardware should require manual
intervention by someone technically capable of doing
so. Motherboards should have flash jumpers, hard disks too, as
should all hardware. If your hardware has a flaw, and needs a
BIOS update or firmware update, and you are joe idiot, then you
PAY someone to do the update for you. It is the hardware
manufacturers that are at fault here for designing insecure
hardware to begin with.

Hmm.. Good way to get free hardware though too. Someone could
use the bad code to fry their hard disk 10 days before the
warranty expires, and get a new one, perhaps larger (after making
appropriate backups of course). ;o)


Mike A. Harris Linux advocate
Computer Consultant GNU advocate
Capslock Consulting Open Source advocate

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