29-30 April 2022
Youth Center Smart Lab
Europe/Rome timezone

Make Computing Personal Again!

29 Apr 2022, 18:25
10m
Youth Center Smart Lab

Youth Center Smart Lab

Rovereto, Italy
Lightning Talk (10 min)

Speaker

Parke Bostrom

Description

Lxroot is a lightweight, flexible, and safe alternative to the chroot program. A non-root user may use Lxroot to safely create a chroot-style virtual software environment (via unprivileged Linux namespaces), and then run one or more apps inside that chroot-style environment. Lxroot is a general-purpose and flexible tool. As such, Lxroot has potential uses related to Gaming, Ecosystem Growth, Platform Diversity, and Innovation.

Back in the 1980’s, apps were distributed on floppy disks. Floppy disk technology gave the common user complete control over which software, and when, ran on their computer. As such, computers in the 1980’s were truly “personal”. In the decades since the 1980’s, complex multi-tasking operating systems and community-controlled (often corporate-controlled) network based “app stores” have replaced the floppy disk. Today, the common user is “locked in” to one app store (or possibly to several app stores simultaneously). Control has shifted away from the common user, and towards the community (or corporation) that controls the “app store”. In other words, today’s computers and smartphones are most definitely no longer “personal”.

I wrote Lxroot so that I could install, upgrade, and run the software I wanted, the way I wanted. This includes installing and simultaneously running multiple versions of the same app, possibly even from multiple different sources, all done safely as a non-root user.

This 10 minute lightning talk will cover, at a high level, potential uses of Lxroot related to Gaming, Ecosystem Growth, Platform Diversity, and Innovation. For viewers who are interested in lower-level, nuts and bolts information about Lxroot, I recommend my November 2021 Packaging-Con talk (see link below).

Users, app developers, and app distributors should all know that unprivileged Linux namespaces can be used, without root access, to control the installation and safe execution of apps on Linux computers. Lxroot is one tool that allows users and app distributors to use Linux namespaces to accomplish these goals.

More information:

https://github.com/parke/lxroot
Packaging-Con talk abstract
Packaging-Con talk video

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