Using the root User for Linux System Administration

By: Clyde Boom

There are often several Linux OS (operating system) terms that are similar, the same, or somehow related.

This article will clear up the confusion about the terms: root user, / (root directory) and /root (the home directory of the root user)!

First, you will learn about the root user, and then see a brief description of the / (root) directory and the /root (home directory) of the root user.

Linux Tips: The articles with names ending in "Linux Concepts & Terms" help you learn Linux "geek-speak" (terms). By learning Linux terms (the Linux "lingo") you will be able to understand Linux concepts and more easily learn how to use Linux. This is an excellent way to start your Linux training.

The root User

To do Linux system administration tasks, like create Linux users and assign permissions to users, you work as the Linux user named root.

The root user has all permissions (rights, capabilities) to all of the Linux system, including all directories and files.

Linux users that are used for day-to-day tasks, like word processing and working on a spreadsheet, are referred to as "regular" or non-root users. When you're not doing Linux system administration tasks, always work as a non-root user.

When doing Linux system administration, work as the root user and be extremely careful running Linux commands - because you could damage or destroy your Linux installation - and then immediately log out!

The root user is also referred to as superuser (no, really, and you don't even get a cape!) and also referred to as su.

When you boot Linux to a console or terminal (and not a Linux desktop), you see a text (not GUI) Login: prompt and you can log in as root to do Linux administration tasks.

However, when you boot a Linux system that has a desktop, you log in at a GUI login prompt and then the Linux desktop appears.

For various security reasons, never log in to a Linux desktop as the root user. Log in to the Linux desktop as a "regular" (non-root) user and then open a Linux terminal (terminal emulation window) on the desktop and use the su command with the - (dash) option to log in and work as the root user.

Linux Tips: The Linux su command gets its name from the word superuser. The su command is run in a Linux terminal emulation window to log in and work as the root user, after logging in to a Linux desktop as a "regular" (non-root) user. Never log in to a Linux desktop as the root user.

Linux Tips: By default, the root user is locked (disabled, unusable) in Ubuntu Linux and you run the Linux sudo command along with Linux system administration commands rather than logging in as root - or using the su command to log in as root.

Now, imagine how easy it will be to learn how to use Linux by seeing all these Linux terms and concepts being clearly presented in a Linux video tutorial!

Related Linux Terms

Below are the terms that are similar to, and related to, the root user.

Similar Linux Terms: root user, / (root) directory in the Linux file system and /root (the home directory of the root user)

The / (root) Directory

The root directory of the Linux filesystem is represented (symbolized) by a / (forward slash). All directories in the Linux file system are "below", or "off of" the / (root) directory.

The /root Directory - The Home directory of the root User

The directory named root, located directly "below" or "off of" the / (root) directoryFeature Articles, is the "home" directory of the root user.

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