- In computing, the superuser is a special user account used for system administration. Depending on the operating system, the actual name of this account might be: root, administrator, admin or supervisor. In some cases the actual name is not significant, rather an authorization flag in the user's profile determines if administrative functions can be performed.In operating systems which have the concept of a superuser, it is generally recommended that most application work be done using an ordinary account which does not have the ability to make system-wide changes.
- Root privileges are the powers that the root account has on the system. The root account is the most privileged on the system and has absolute power over it (i.e., complete access to all files and commands). Among root's powers are the ability to modify the system in any way desired and to grant and revoke access permissions (i.e., the ability to read, modify and execute specific files and directories) for other users, including any of those that are by default reserved for root.
When to Use Root Privilages ?
- Tasks that require root privileges include moving files or directories into or out of system directories (i.e., directories that are critical to the functioning of the operating system), copying files into system directories, granting or revoking user privileges, some system repairs, and the installation of some application programs. By default, it is not necessary to be root to be able to read most configuration files and documentation files in system directories, although it is necessary to be root to modify them.
- Root privileges are usually required for installing software in RPM (Red Hat Package Manager) package format because of the need to write to system directories. If an application program is being compiled (i.e., converted into runnable form) from source code (i.e., its original, human-readable form), however, it can usually be configured to install and run from a user's home directory. Root privileges are not needed by an ordinary user to compile and install software in its home directory. Compiling software as root should be avoided for security reasons.