Jamie Zawinski Calls Cinnamon Screensaver Lock-Bypass Bug ‘Unconscionable’
Legendary programmer Jamie Zawinski has worked on everything from the earliest releases of the Netscape Navigator browser to XEmacs, Mozilla, and, of course, the XScreenSaver project.

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Now Slashdot reader e432776 writes:

JWZ continues to track issues with screensavers on Linux (since 2004!), and discusses a new bug in cinnamon-screensaver. Long-standing topics like X11, developer interaction, and code licensing all feature. Solutions to these long-standing issues remain elusive.

Jamie titled his blog post “I told you so, 2021 edition”:
You will recall that in 2004 , which is now seventeen years ago, I wrote a document explaining why I made the design trade-offs that I did in XScreenSaver, and in that document I predicted this exact bug as my example of, “this is what will happen if you don’t do it this way.”

And they went and made that happen.

Repeatedly.

Every time this bug is re-introduced, someone pipes up and says something like, “So what, it was a bug, they’ve fixed it.” That’s really missing the point. The point is not that such a bug existed, but that such a bug was even possible. The real bug here is that the design of the system even permits this class of bug. It is unconscionable that someone designing a critical piece of security infrastructure would design the system in such a way that it does not fail safe .

Especially when I have given them nearly 30 years of prior art demonstrating how to do it right, and a two-decades-old document clearly explaining What Not To Do that coincidentally used this very bug as its illustrative strawman!

These bugs are a shameful embarrassment of design — as opposed to merely bad code…

ZDNet reports that Linux Mint has issued a patch for Cinnamon that fixes the screensaver bug. But HotHardware notes that it was discovered when “one Dad let the kids play with the keyboard. This button-mashing actually crashed the machine’s screensaver by sheer luck, allowing them onto the desktop, ultimately leading to the discovery of a high priority security vulnerability for the Linux Mint team.”

But that’s not the only thing bothering Jamie Zawinski:

Just to add insult to injury, it has recently come to my attention that not only are Gnome-screensaver, Mint-screensaver and Cinnamon-screensaver buggy and insecure dumpster fires, but they are also in violation of my license and infringing my copyright.

XScreenSaver was released under the BSD license, one of the oldest and most permissive of the free software licenses. It turns out, the Gnome-screensaver authors copied large parts of XScreenSaver into their program, removed the BSD license and slapped a GPL license on my code instead — and also removed my name. Rude…
Mint-screensaver and Cinnamon-screensaver, being forks and descendants of Gnome-screensaver, have inherited this license violation and continue to perpetuate it. Every Linux distro is shipping this copyright- and license-infringing code.

I eagerly await hearing how they’re going to make this right.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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