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Basic Linux For The SQL DBA

Kellyn Pot’Vin-Gorman continues her series on getting SQL Server DBAs ramped up on Linux:

Let’s begin with discussing WHY it’s not a good idea to be root on a Linux host unless absolutely necessary to perform a specific task. Ask any DBA for DB Owner or SA privileges, and you will most likely receive an absolute “No” for the response. DBAs need to have the same respect for the host their database runs on. Windows hosts have significantly hardened user security by introducing enhancements and unique application users to enforce similar standards at the enterprise server level, and Linux has always been this way. To be perfectly blunt, the Docker image with SQL Server running as root is a choice that shows lacking investigation to what privileges are REQUIRED to run, manage and support an enterprise database. This is not how we’d want to implement it for customer use.

Unlike a Windows OS, the Linux kernel is exposed to the OS layer. There isn’t a registry that requires a reboot or has a safety mechanism to refuse deletion or write to files secured by the registry or library files. Linux ASSUMED if you are root or if you have permissions to a file/directory, you KNOW what you’re doing. Due to this, it’s even more important to have the least amount of privileges to perform any task required.

Proper deployment would have a unique MSSQL Linux login owning the SQL Server installation and a DBAGroup as the group vs. the current configuration of ROOT:ROOT owning everything. With all the enhancements to security, this is one area that as DBAs, we should request to have adhered to. Our databases should run as a unique user owning the bin files and database processes.

Much of this post is walking us through some basics of security, but it also includes helpful built-in commands unrelated to security, like df to view free disk space.