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SubjectRe: Linux Security: An Appeal


Advocating an alternative mechanism for enabling better control of
security issues is far different than suggesting that UNIX should look
like MVS.

Although there are significant differences (historically) between MVS and
UNIX, realize that MVS is closer to getting X/Open "UNIX" labelling than
is Digital's OpenVMS (as I understand it, OpenVMS has "lost" the label
because the POSIX conformance underwent its annual "ok, now you gotta
jump this high to qualify" increment).

Now, if you have been reading the discussions regarding security, etc,
with a jaundiced eye of one who has had to try answering the security
critics... you'd probably look at the article again and reconsider.

What I am not doing is advocating that UNIX should be made to look like

What I am doing is advocating that now may be a good time to look
at security in general, promote its importance to something meaningful,
segregate it out of the kernel proper (much like has been done with the
architecture dependencies i386/sparc/etc), and give it a "first class"

The current situation is pitiful, especially if you have various account
privilegdes and varying responsibilities and authorizations within an
enterprise. If there is a better model (identifying critical user/system
security junctions and then having an externally controlled authority
that allows/disallows), then go for it. If we want to see Linux (or even
UNIX for that matter) gain wider enterprise acceptance, then we must
address these issues. Redmond is not standing still, and they'll have
our lunch if we don't get after this arena.

Andrew E. Mileski wrote:
> > Several days ago, I resubscribed to linux-kernel after a bit of a hiatus.
> > Before resubscribing, I sent a note about what was the reaction to the
> > UNIX Review article about "Security: UNIX vs Mainframes". At that time,
> > I didn't have the magazine issue in front of me, but it is November 1996.
> [snip]
> > Paraphrased and summarized from:
> > Security: UNIX vs Mainframes
> > by Dorin Miller, Pg 63-66
> > UNIX Review November 1996
> "Unix vs Mainframes"? The summary is "Unix vs MVS", and both run on
> mainframes.
> Unix and MVS are different, like a knife and a spoon. Spoons are lousy at
> cutting steak, and it is hard to eat soup with a knife :-)
> Combining features is not always a good idea - ever tried to use one
> of those fully featured Swiss Army knives? You have to hold your steak
> with your hand in order to cut it with your knife, or use your fork and
> just gnaw on the steak :-) At best it is a messy situation, and you'd be
> better off with the individual utensils.
> --
> Andrew E. Mileski
> Linux Plug-and-Play Kernel Project
> XFree86 Matrox Team

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