Who Is Root? Why Does Root Exist?

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Gabriel Cánepa

Gabriel Cánepa is a GNU/Linux sysadmin and web developer from Villa Mercedes, San Luis, Argentina. He works for a worldwide leading consumer product company and takes great pleasure in using FOSS tools to increase productivity in all areas of his daily work.

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5 Responses

  1. Ranieri says:

    It is probably called root because all other users derive from it in a tree shape.

  2. YetAnotherBob says:

    The root user is the user with permissions by default to change ANYTHING in a Linux system. Root is a powerful and dangerous ability in any computer system.

    I commonly have a root account and a password that is used only for that account. I then use sudo for installation of software and some other duties. This protects the system from intrusion and suchlike. It also provides some minimal protection from installer scripts that are malicious.

    The sudo password can be given for those who need to install software, or a different password for those who need to be able to inspect/read/write to other users accounts. (E.G. supervisors of group accounts.) These sudo accounts are also potentially dangerous, so proper care should be exercised. Root should be used only by the primary administrators.

    That said, never Never NEVER have only one person who knows your systems root password. If you do, then you have given that person total control over your system. If they leave for any reason, you might have to reinstall the complete system to fix it. (The legendary “Hit by a Bus” scenario.)

  3. Steve Stites says:

    I always create a fully functional root account on my Linux systems. Unfortunately several Linux distributions have decided to protect me from myself by blocking the creation of a fully functional root account as much as possible.

    So every time I install a new release of a Linux distribution I have to go into the system control files and undo the damage that the distribution has deliberately done to the root account.

    Whether or not to install a root account and let a user log into root on the GUI login screen should be an option at install time.

    Steve Stites

  4. John says:

    So you didn’t answer your own question really, who is root? You are assuming that it’s likely due to the fact that root is the only account having write permissions inside. What a waste of time this reading was.

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