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There's been one problem I've had since I installed Ubuntu to run alongside Windows, I assume this would also be the same if it was installed to replace the other operating system as well, the installer prompts you to create a password upon typing in the user account name and if you don't put in a password and just put in the user account name, it ends up saying to create a password. My comparison is in Windows and Mac OS X, you are never forced to create a password.

If you remove the password on your Admin account in System Settings > User Accounts, you won't be able to authenticate whenever you try to install something, because it requests for a password and putting in no password at all isn't going to work, it will just act as if you put in an invalid password. This is what I call "getting locked out of privileges".

I'm finding the "Authenticate" window that comes up whenever you install something or accessing somewhere a nuisance, 'cause it always requests for your password.

So my question is - Why does Ubuntu force users to create a password upon installation?

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If you've take the excellent answers here into account and would still like to reduce how often you're prompted to enter your password, you can. In a terminal, type sudo visudo, and add the line username ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: ALL. Save the file, exit the editor, log out, and log back in. You'll still be prompted for a password at login, but not for sudo or admin functions in the GUI. MAKE SURE you're at peace with the security conditions imposed by this choice. –  asfallows Apr 25 '12 at 1:19
    
There are settings for autologin without password too, which is a reasonable thing to do if you live alone and don't use external networks. –  user unknown Jun 8 '12 at 13:50

5 Answers 5

Perhaps the real question should be why is it that Windows or Mac OS X (if that's actually the case, never used it) don't require you to have and use passwords.

You will probably find once you have set your system set up to your satisfaction that the amount of time you have to enter your password decreases substantially, I've been running the development version for months and still only use the password once or twice a day.

The password is there for a reason - so that people accessing your system when you are not aware being unable to damage it.

If you find that you are using it a lot in a terminal run

sudo -i

do what you need to and then exit.

Read up on root and sudo - it's there and won't be going anywhere.

https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RootSudo

At the end of the day Linux of any sort is not Windows nor Mac.

http://linux.oneandoneis2.org/LNW.htm

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That "Linux is not Windows" essay is great! Thanks for posting it. –  Chan-Ho Suh Apr 24 '12 at 15:41

Thanks for asking a straight question, the answer is "Because it's more secure".

Any security measure will have at least a small "annoyance" factor.

"You must know your password to install software in Ubuntu. This is a security feature of Ubuntu, and other Linux distributions."

This prevents unauthorized people from messing the system's configuration, it's also a "safety net" for you to confirm that you actually want to do changes to the configuration.

It may be argued that if you know nobody is going to use your computer anyway, then you don't need a password, but the OS has no way of knowing that. Ubuntu is conservative in that respect in asking you to always have a password, unlike other systems that may allow you to "shoot yourself in the foot".

By the way, I'll take your word for Mac OS's behavior, but really I don't remember it being entirely passwordless; it always asks me for a password when upgrading and sometimes when installing software.

The workaround I suggest is for you to set a very short and easy password.

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You may thank for asking a straight question by voting it up. :) –  user unknown Apr 24 '12 at 14:50
    
done, thanks :) –  roadmr Apr 24 '12 at 14:59
    
"Because it's more secure" is silly. There are many situations in which a password is only an annoyance with no added benefit, like when using the OS in a virtual machine. -1 –  Mehrdad May 19 '13 at 21:39

You're right that OS X doesn't force you to make a password. But this is actually a flaw. Or if you want to say it nicely, a "compromise" between usability and functionality. Without a password in OS X, you cannot ever use the sudo command. Now you say, I never use the Terminal to do stuff, so who cares? Well, next time you try to install an app that needs certain privileges, you'll find you can't install it and that you have to make a password first.

In fact, if you look in the Mac forums, you'll find a variety of issues for people that didn't set a password. For example, you'll have trouble connecting to Windows shares.

Basically scenarios where some form of authentication is needed are all potentially areas where you will run into trouble. Consider this person who changed their password to blank to make their life "easier" and found out that Filevault does not like that! (they got locked out)

As for Windows, which I've long been unfamiliar with since Windows 98, despite what you say, a quick Googling suggests having no password (or more precisely, a "blank" password) is not quite the normal state of matters.

Similar to the situation with OS X, you'll find you need to do some fiddling to get some things to work. According to Microsoft,"this behavior is by design... to improve system security".

I'm sure other people will more than adequately explain why Ubuntu requires a password. My point in my answer is that Apple and Microsoft should require a non-blank password. You're going to need it for full functionality, and allowing users to set the password to blank is just asking for trouble.

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Every time I've installed OS X, I've been asked to create a password for my account. Granted, I've never thought of not creating a password.

There are ways to dramatically reduce the number of times you are asked for a password. As someone has already mentioned, read up on the sudo command. You can configure it so it won't ask for a password when you need to do something that requires root privileges.

You can also easily configure your system to avoid asking for your password when it boots up.

You could also just run as root all the time, but that would be very much a mistake.

Passwords aren't security perfection. But, I'd certainly use one, if nothing else to protect my machine from prowling and/or malicious passers-by.

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Why? Because Ubuntu is a version of Linux, which is a processor-specific version of Unix (which was somewhat based on Multics). Unix was designed from the beginning as a multi-user multi-tasking system, so passwords were used to secure different user accounts on the same machine. This also included system accounts like root which were also passworded to stop unknowledgeable users from causing damage to the system.

MS-Windows was based on MS-DOS which, although it copied some ideas from Unix, was intended to be a personal single-user system. Newer single-user versions of MS-Windows, starting with Windows2000 and WindowsXP are based on the multi-user multi-tasking WinNT core and introduced Linux-like access control protection to prevent the system being damaged. Although the newer versions of Apple's Mac operating system are essentially a custom version of Unix (in this case based on NeXTStep, in turned based on BSD Unix), the Mac is also usually a single-user personal computer.

Since the development of Linux is open-source and until fairly recently only had a very technically-savvy user base, rules such as "never run as a user with super-user privileges, and especially not as the root user", have pretty much been mantras. However, as the popularity of Ubuntu as a single-user system grows, more and more users who are also their system's administrator, want to run as a super-user to avoid having to retype their passwords frequently, often keeping an elevated-privilege terminal open via sudo -i. There is a certain logic to this, since you're the same person who's going to enter the command and just as likely to type the same mistake, after you've re-entered your password. Read RootSudo for detailed information, including possible dangers.

However, there is still a strong consensus among the existing Linux community to only run with the privileges you need at that moment. Plus, if any of your data is personal and you don't want anyone who has access to your machine to look at it, you will at least want a user password and probably not enable auto-logon.

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