sudo or not sudo

Nothing prevents you from changing the username on this [root] account or from creating additional accounts whose UIDs are 0; however, these are both bad ideas.

That was the most profound saying in probably the most boring chapter of the “UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook”, Chapter 3, about the root account and related topics.

Still, it provides some interesting points, notably about Mandatory Access Control (MAC) and Role-based Access Control (RBAC).

Interestingly, these are the areas where Linux has been lagging behind Microsoft Windows, only having discretionary access control facilities taken from the classic Unix. Proprietary Unix variants, like HP-UX, AIX and Solaris have been closer to leading the way here.

A cool approach at building SELinux policies is mentioned in the chapter. A tool (audit2allow) compiles a policy from the policy violations triggered and logged. Clever, though not foolproof.

Another controversial practice suggested in this chapter is the rule of using sudo for all administrative work.

It is a non-trivial question of what is ultimately more secure: entering a password every 5 minutes for sudo or having a root terminal on standby, authenticated just once at session startup and protected by generic Xwindow session protection mechanisms like screen auto lock and biometrics authentication.