User authentication dialog's failure to lock the screen has an error that is unnecesarily scary

Bug #134474 reported by Oded Arbel on 2007-08-24
This bug affects 3 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
One Hundred Papercuts
gksu (Ubuntu)

Bug Description

When running a utility that requires adiminstrative priviliges, gksu (I think) tries to lock the screen, but if there is a menu open at the itme (for example when I launch one utility and opens the menu again to launch another utility) then gksu fails to lock the screen and shows an error dialog instead, which has the following text:

Could not grab your mouse.
A malicious client may be eavesdropping on your session or you may have just clicked a menu or some application just decided to get focus.
Try again.

This is unnecesarily scary, especially as the more common situation is the open menu while that situation is explained last. The casual user would just read the first few words and possibly panic. I think the text could be easily restructured to better represent the more common use case, while still providing enough information about malicious clients, for example:

Could not lock the screen.
This is probably due to a menu that is was open at the time, if this is the case you may try to run the program again. If this message repeats itself, it may mean that there is a malicious program that is trying to listen to your pasword.

Or maybe even:

Could not lock the screen.
Locking the screen is required to run administrative actions in order to make sure that no malicious software can listen to your password, but locking the screen may also fail if there is a menu open.
If the latter is the case then you should try to run the program again.

(granted the last one doesn't actually solve the problem of the more common case being described last, but it is more friendly, IMHO).

galtbug (galt280) wrote :

I also noticed another problem with this case... I reproduced this on Gutsy64, and about a second after I got the pop-up that you mention, gksu segfaulted.

This message also appears when you have your mouse pressed while
the system trys to lock the screen.

Daniel T Chen (crimsun) on 2008-10-18
Changed in gksu:
importance: Undecided → Wishlist
status: New → Confirmed
Roman Polach (rpolach) wrote :

Still problem in Intrepid.

It would be even better if open menus do not cause this problem & message at all.

Arnaud Faucher (arnaud-faucher) wrote :

Same problem in Jaunty (alpha5) x86.

Vish (vish) wrote :

Thank you for bringing this bug to our attention. However, a paper cut should be a small usability issue, in the default Ubuntu install, that affects many people and is quick and easy to fix. So this bug can't be addressed as part of this project.

- gksu is being phased out in favor of policykit in Ubuntu. Closing papercut task since , we'd get rid of such problems eventually ;-)
For further information about papercuts criteria, please read

Don't worry though, this bug has been marked as "Invalid" only in the papercuts project.

Changed in hundredpapercuts:
status: New → Invalid
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