[sudo-workers] Microsoft patents sudo??!!

Todd C. Miller Todd.Miller at courtesan.com
Thu Nov 12 16:05:01 EST 2009

I've received a number of questions about US patent 7,617,530 that
some people seem to believe might cover sudo.  I don't think that
is the case.

My reading of the patent indicates that it is geared towards GUI-based
environments where the user may need to perform some action (such
as setting the clock in a control panel) that requires increased
privileges.  The actual "invention" appears to be that the user is
able to perform an action as a different user without having to
type in the name of that other user when authenticating.  One example
given in that patent is the ability to click on a name in a list
of privileged users as opposed to having to type in a user name.

Sudo simply doesn't work this way.  When a command is run via sudo
the user is actively running the command as a different user.  What
is described in the patent is a mechanism whereby an application
or the operating system detects that an action needs to be run with
increased privileges and automatically prompts the user with a list
of potential users that have the appropriate privilege level to
perform the task.

 - todd

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