Saner desktop with sudo

01 Dec, 2005

I have for quite some time been using passwordless sudo. This is mostly a question about me being a bit lazy, but later I found out that Ubuntu is set up the same way by default.

Sudo is configured in /etc/sudoers with the visudo command (the name aside, it uses \$EDITOR) and can look like this:

sa      ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL

This gives unlimitied root rights for user sa. Of course you can set it up only for specific programs, with a time limit, or make the user authenticate a second time.

Most of the GNOME system tools are set up to run by way of gksu. gksu is actually both a frontend to su and sudo, but set up to use su by default. You can change this by setting the gconf key /apps/gksu/sudo-mode to true. Voila, passwordless root access to GNOME's system tools!

As always there is a tradeoff between security and ease of access, but on my home computer used only by myself and close friends and familiy i feel it is worth it.