A little sysadmin twitch
Every system administrator has little twitches, behaviors that strike outside observers as somewhere between odd and superstitious. Sometimes these are just habits, but sometimes they have interesting stories behind them.
One of my twitches is that when I use
su, I always type '
(or on some irritating systems, '
/usr/bin/su'), not plain '
(By now it's a reflex.)
This habit originated in a bit of security advice. The story goes that
if you didn't use absolute paths, an intruder who compromised your
account could alter your
$PATH so that plain '
su' ran a trojan
su that logged the password somewhere, told you 'bad
password', and then cleaned itself away to make future
In my current environment this is mostly superstition, because most of
the time I get root access by starting a 'root xterm' (more or less
xterm -e /bin/su -fg OrangeRed'; the red foreground makes such
xterms stand out, avoiding accidents). An attacker who compromised my
account could just zap the fvwm2 menu entry for this instead of
Still, it's my little twitch. Life wouldn't be quite the same without it.