Broken Login

May 7, 2010

So I’m sure that by now you’ve heard that by default Ubuntu has the root account disabled.  Naturally the first thing you ask when hearing this is, why?  Well once you think about it the answer becomes obvious. Security.  Everyone knows that every Linux system has a root account. So if you want to do “bad things” to it all you need to do is guess the password. Well if there is no password to guess then you are just S.O.L.

Now using logic along these lines you figure that a system is more secure if an “hacker” not only has to break passwords, but also guess the login names.  Well it seems that the Ubuntu developers threw this right out the window when making 10.04 (maybe they did it earlier but definitely not in 8.04).  By default, the login screen has you choose a user from a drop down list, and then you enter the password.  To make things worse, there isn’t an easy way to fix this.  Fortunately you can change this behavior, but you will need to do some work.

To begin with, you need to make an addition to your software repository.  Just  enter the following into the terminal:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gdm2setup/gdm2setup
Then you need to tell your system that you have made changes and they need to be implemented.
sudo apt-get update
Finally you are ready to install the program.
sudo apt-get install python-gdm2setup

To find the program you can go to System>Administration and it will be the new entry (sorry I don’t recall the name). Another cool thing is that you can now also change the background image of the login screen, which was “impossible” before (or so I have read).  Now if only I could find a way to make it so that when you enter your password no dots or anything appear, so as to not let others know how long your password actually is.

Next post I’ll talk about the issues I have with the new appearance. Don’t worry there are some things I actually do like (though not many).