root is the user name or account that by default has access to all commands and files on a Linux or other Unix-like operating system. It is also referred to as the root account, root user and the superuser.
For me, I just want to be in control of my own personal computer/s, so I began looking for Linux Distros that didn’t forced the ‘Pesky Passwords’ onto me every time I wanted to do something, e.g. reformat a disk with GParted. Up until I started this Blog, in January of 2019, I had mainly used Puppy Linux and Ubuntu LTS, but had ‘piddled’ with others off ‘n on before those. Never had to login with Puppy Linux. Never was asked for a password when I tried to open or install an app. I was root without knowing it or even what root was. Ubuntu seemed to have the GUI “Authenticate” popping up too often wanting a password, but since Linux wasn’t a main OS for me I just put up with the annoyance. However, I did wondered why Ubuntu would be annoying ‘n Puppy Linux just did its job w/o any annoyances or questions.
The root user, also known as the superuser or administrator, is a special user account in Linux used for system administration. It is the most privileged user on the Linux system and it has access to all commands and files. The root user can do many things an ordinary user cannot, such as installing new software, changing the ownership of files, and managing other user accounts.
It is not recommended to use root for ordinary tasks, such as browsing the web, writing texts, e.g. A simple mistake can cause problems with the entire system, for example if you mistype a command. It is advisable to create a normal user account for such tasks. If root permissions are needed, the su and sudo commands can be used.
OK…I can understand such warning/s against everyone in a giant corporation being a fulltime root user; however, why does Linux seem to insist that such strict rules should also apply to the common Desktop user at home on his/her own computer/s? Those su and sudo commands mentioned in the above quote can just as easily “cause problems with the entire system” if the commands are used ‘n then user mistypes. Correct? I mean, I’m not typing commands into a terminal when I’m browsing the web as a fulltime root user. I’m not typing commands into a terminal when I’m writing a letter whilst using LibreOffice as a fulltime root user. So, WHAT is the POINT of forcing ‘Pesky Passwords’ and/or annoying GUI “Authenticate” popups prompting the user for a password!?!? Simply offer the home Desktop user an option to opt out of all passwords…simple ‘n fair. Like maybe being able to login as root at the login Welcome Screen:
I don’t become root to escape the terminal’s password, i.e. one is already at the keyboard if they’re using the terminal, so there is no need to put the mouse down ‘n move to a keyboard. I become root because I hate the “Authenticate” popup/s that requires one to put down the mouse ‘n move to a keyboard in order to type the password ‘n then Authenticate it. GParted requires it, Synaptic Package Manager requires it, adding apps sometimes requires it, some updates require it, etc. Being root stops the annoying GUI “Authenticate” popup/s.
There are many other GUI “Authenticate” password popups in Linux, but sometimes you need to use the Terminal (Command Prompt) in order to do something, e.g. installing LibreOffice in a Distro that doesn’t offer a GUI installation of it. I’m still using EndeavourOS in some ongoing tests from that post, so I’ll use it here for an example of what is required of the standard “karmi” user to accomplish a Terminal/command prompt installation of LibreOffice. (BTW, you’re already at the Terminal on something like this, so its not nearly as annoying as the GUI “Authenticate” popups.) First, you need to find the app or package:
EOS is Arch-based, so I used AUR. They didn’t seem to have an English version (something like en-US) for Americans so I went with the libreoffice-fresh-en-gb (Great Britain works for me!). Then I open the Terminal and try to install LibreOffice:
That looks good, so hit enter:
OOOPS! Standard karmi@karmi user can’t install a simple Office product, unless password dependent karmi@karmi user enters another password…here’s how that works:
Enter “su” and the password – then got this:
OK…that was like 4 steps ‘n I still haven’t installed LibreOffice yet!?! Some Linux users swear this is all easier than Windows 10 ‘n also swear their “Terminal-Centric” (AKA key-board based) Linux OSes (e.g. EndeavourOS) are really a mouse-based OS just like Windows 10 “99.9999% of the time” – er, OK. The basic wheel mouse is reduced to nothing more than ‘Point ‘n Click‘ under Linux. See my – Scroll Wheel Mouse ‘n Wheel Mouse posts for more info on the Linux mouse problems and why Linux is considered a “Terminal-Centric” OS.
OK…one more round at the terminal, and LibreOffice was installed.
The Ole’ Linux Naysayers *INSIST* that being a fulltime root user endangers the computer system, breaks all OS security, and will bring about a Doomsday scenario for you ‘n your computer!!! Take a look at this next Terminal pic:
Same [ root@karmi-systemproductname karmi ] … well, there is the squiggly “~” thingie there instead of karmi. Both are still root@karmi, but one is supposedly less Doomsdayish according to the Ole’ Linux Naysayers. I say, Baloney! to ’em!
That second root@karmi was done thru the Welcome login screen after I logged in as root user instead of “karmi” user. Installing LibreOffice as fulltime root user in the root section only required opening the terminal, and then typing in: pacman -S libreoffice-fresh-en-gb and then hit enter. No sudo or su stuff since I was already fulltime root@karmi.
****** Part 2 ******
(NOTE: This is going to stay a sticky post for awhile and I may add to it during my ongoing search ‘n testing.)
Full size Desktop Distros that offer no standard user during installation are difficult to find. There are some smaller Distros like Puppy Linux that require no users or passwords, but anyone going that route should just use Puppy Linux…I use it mainly for rescue or repair type of stuff, but also for reformatting test SSDs ‘n USBs. Seems many of the Arch-based Distros offer root logins at the Welcome screen, but there always seem to be minor problems in the root section, e.g. no sound for even basic computer speakers. Fact is, PCLinuxOS, SparkyLinux, and openSUSE had speaker issues. Other Distros also had minor problems ‘n didn’t seem ready for fulltime root user. I list those Distros in the “minor issues” section on the Distros w/ *NO* ‘Pesky Passwords’ page.
The root section needs to be at least as stable as the standard user section. So far I have only found 3 Distros that offer total stability ‘n everything works as it should in the root section.
- FossaPup64 9.5 (AKA Puppy Linux 9.5) has no standard user and it is a fully functional root OS from top to bottom. I keep it on USBs in both main Linux test computers, but also keep it on a 32 GB SanDisk Ultra USB for portability. It will work in almost every computer, IMHO.
- Fedora Cinnamon Spin is my favorite fulltime root Distro, and required just a root password during installation with the option not to create a standard user. It boots right into the Desktop w/o a Welcome screen login…excellent! Never used su or sudo … never get an annoying GUI “Authenticate” popup. Everything works! I don’t like their software package management, but with it being Linux there is no perfect Distro. Ubuntu LTS is as close to perfection as Linux gets, but they don’t offer fulltime root user…they do have a great GUI software package manager tho. Heck, I like Synaptic Package Manager, but haven’t figured out how to get it installed onto Fedora. Anyway, for the time being, I mainly use the terminal to add apps and update the system, i.e. it’s worth the terminal aggravation to avoid the ‘Pesky’ “Authenticate” popups. Windows 10 Pro is my main OS ‘n Fedora Cinnamon Spin it my #2 OS. BTW, Fedora’s default Workstation (GNOME) requires a standard user, and I believe it doesn’t allow fulltime root access (w/ so much testing over this past year I forget a lot of stuff). The other Fedora Spins had fulltime root user also.
- CentOS Stream is another excellent fulltime root Distro; however, it requires creating a standard user, but offers the root login option at the Welcome screen. Just click different user ‘n login as root. Everything works in the root section, so I never login as standard “karmi” user.
I will be continuing my search ‘n testing for another fulltime root access Linux Distro, so check back in to see what I have found. However, Ole’ Linux Naysayers are difficult to accept change… 😉
UPDATE: added this post to the Progressions of the Linux Newbie Blog page. Also, linked more posts to the new category: Root User.
The search ‘n testing continues…