Quoth Magnus Ahltorp:
: This su does not allow the system admnistrator to keep a 'wheel' group,
: because the author(s) thinks it is not nice to the users if they manage to
: get hold of the root password. Don't ask me why.
The answer is on the man page (excerpts appended). After reading this, it
sounds like RMS had a bad experience with the wheel group and swore off
it. But is his problem really widespread? How many systems really have
"masses" needed to su root to "thwart the coup" of "rulers?"
I have a great deal of respect for RMS/FSF/the GNU ideal, but would be
interested to hear others' comments on this.
This program does not support a "wheel group" that
restricts who can su to super-user accounts, because that
can help fascist system administrators hold unwarranted
power over other users.
Why GNU su does not support the wheel group (by Richard Stallman)
Sometimes a few of the users try to hold total power over
all the rest. For example, in 1984, a few users at the
MIT AI lab decided to seize power by changing the operator
password on the Twenex system and keeping it secret from
everyone else. (I was able to thwart this coup and give
power back to the users by patching the kernel, but I
wouldn't know how to do that in Unix.)
However, occasionally the rulers do tell someone. Under
the usual su mechanism, once someone learns the root pass-
word who sympathizes with the ordinary users, he can tell
the rest. The "wheel group" feature would make this
impossible, and thus cement the power of the rulers.
I'm on the side of the masses, not that of the rulers. If
you are used to supporting the bosses and sysadmins in
whatever they do, you might find this idea strange at
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