Ok, wanted to install Xine, based on the recommendation of one of the posters.  I opened synaptic and got a message saying dpkg had been interrupted and i needed to run: “dpkg –configure -a”

Ok, slightly offputting.  If i’m a a regular user i’m going to have no idea what the heck i’m supposed to do about that.

Luckily this gave me a chance to find and run the terminal app.  However, why i tried to run the command in that terminal i then got the message:

foo@metasyntactic:~/Desktop$ dpkg –configure -a
dpkg: requested operation requires superuser privilege

Yikes!  WTF??  This requires superuser privilege??  Why?  It’s my computer, how am i not a superuser on it?  Synaptic has no problem installing apps on my machine without bothering me with issues of “superuser”ness, so why is this dpkg app getting in my way.  Luckily i’ve had some experience with unix systems before, so i knew about the “sudo” command.  After running that above command with sudo things were in a good shape.  But this is seriously something that i would be doing a fair bit of troubleshooting for if a non-techie person ran into this.  That does not make me happy at all.  I’ve been spoiled by OSX, and i was hoping things would be better wrt this sort of thing on Ubuntu.

Comments (6)

  1. RonO says:

    Since the vast majority of Linux/Unix distributions take the approach of least privilege (I’m not actually aware of any that still set you up to operate as superuser by default, but I’m sure there’s at least one somewhere), this would be expected behavior. You can modify your login to have root privileges, but it’s definately not the recommended approach.

    I suspect your question about synaptic not having an issue has to do with the types of updates it’s performing. If synaptic is only performing updates to user packages (or packages only used at a user level), then it doesn’t need root privileges to perform the updates. I’d recommend pinging the Ubuntu community about this.

  2. Ando says:

    Try prefix the command with sudo. That should solve your problem

  3. Ando: I know abou that (as i mentioned in my post).

    The problem is that i shouldnt’ have to "sudo" this. It’s my computer. I’m the sole user, and these are signed updates from my distro.

    They should just install without me having to be involved.

  4. RonO: That’s silly though. There is no need for privilege separation here. Why am i being privilege separated from my own computer???

    It’s my computer. I bought it. I want to run software on it. And i’m being inconvenienced. That’s just silly.

  5. I’ll have to agree here. I also installed Ubuntu over the last few days, and have spent the weekend cheerfully installing and configuring things all over the place.

    Seems like half the things I want to do require me to sudo – every time I open the Synaptic app it asks for my password. I think I must have typed it hundreds of times over the past few days.

    Some of this is because I try to install various apps on a global level, since I want them to be available to other users on the machine, but some don’t seem justified at all.

  6. Ando says:

    That’s true but it comes down to choosing between security and convenience. The approach they have taken ensures that any command that can potentially screw up the system is authorised by the user. If you want to forgo this layer then enable the root account on the machine or modify your permissions to that of root.