root password required for installation — bad apps?

Discussion in 'OS X Mountain Lion (10.8)' started by kot, Sep 26, 2012.

  1. kot macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2011
    Much of software comes in .pkg's which require you to enter your administrator password in order to install. That means they are writing to locations they are not supposed to be writing to.

    Is it just bad programming (like putting software components to c:\Windows), does it bring system instability and glitches and makes the system work slower?

    I just installed Virtualbox and Wireshark which both wrote something to somewhere other than the ~. I'm worried.
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    That's not true. Some apps need to write files in areas that require your admin (not root) password for permission. That doesn't mean they're doing anything that they shouldn't. As long as you're only installing software from trusted, reputable sources, you don't have anything to worry about.
  3. Purant macrumors 6502

    Aug 26, 2012
    That's not correct. It's not they are writing to locations they're not supposed to at all. It's just that they're not supposed to write there without the user knowing and confirming it.

    Some folders of the OS are allowed only to be written by the administrator (or a process with administrator rights). That is in place, so that malware can't write there without the user knowing. It's not because no-one should be able to write there at all.
  4. kot thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2011
    Oh, thanks! Now I get it. Anyway, Safari started showing me some graphical glitches and text input in text forms on webpages started to lag a bit, so I thought it was xQuartz or Virtualbox or Wireshark which I installed and all three of them asked me to type in my password. I thought they had messed up my system files. You know there is some software on Windows which replaces system files or settings with their own "improved" versions giving you nothing but trouble.

    For example, Wireshark modifies permissions on /dev/bpf, which seems troubling. I can't stand it when third-party software tries to make the OS dance to their tune. It brings instability.
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    That's not the case here.
  6. kot thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 10, 2011
    Then why do many people recommend against installing various UI tweaks and other things which alter OS X look and feel which install themselves among system files, because as they say they are a potential source of glitches and odd behavior, because OS X was not designed to let them be there and do what they do.
  7. Mal macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2002
    You're confusing the issue. Asking for admin rights doesn't mean that it's replacing system files. Apps and tweaks that do replace system files carry some inherent risk (such as my black menubar tweak that I use). There are many locations on your computer that cannot be written to without admin rights, however, that do not involve replacing system files. The fact that an app asks for your admin password (which is not your root password, as was noted by others), does not have anything to do with whether it replaces system files or not.

  8. mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    You also need admin rights to even write to the /Applications folder. So any app install will need admin rights to install there.

    As for the O.P., both Wireshark and Virtualbox need admin rights to install system services. Wireshark requires access to read all packets on the network interface. That requires root privs. Virtualbox needs to install kernel drivers to work. Again, that requires root privs. If you aren't happy with this, don't install the software.
  9. KnightWRX macrumors Pentium


    Jan 28, 2009
    Quebec, Canada
    No, it means they are installing themselves so that every user on the system can use them, not just your account. That's good programming. Imagine if every user account on your Mac had to have its own seperate installation of every app.

    That would be a nightmare.

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