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root is like a "god mode" - has access to everything and can do everything. File permissions are critical for linux security. Normal users cannot install software or change system critical settings for example.
Also, say you want to play a network game with friends (bzflag for example), you log in as root, fire up the server (which is now running as root) - guess what happens when somebody exploits your server - full root access to your machine :/
Had you been running the bzflag under your own user account it'd be that little bit better since the attacker really doesn't have access to that much ;)
Running as root is always risky because root has full privileges to perform any actions whatsoever on your system. If you accidentally make a typo when you are executing a command, you could very easily destroy your entire system, with no chance of recovery except to do a full reinstall. Therefore, it's a poor choice, and that's why you should use root only in specific situations that explicitly require it (such as when you are installing new packages). Otherwise, just run as a regular user.
Another LQ'er put it this way: Running as root is like putting on a giant robot suit that comes with a bunch of laser rockets. At first, it's pretty cool to run around being all-powerful, but one day you might end up accidentally crushing something that you didn't intend to, and unfortunately if you're root there's no such thing as a "do over". Therefore, you want to put on that giant robot suit only when really necessary, and to be very careful while you've got it on. -- J.W.
Originally posted by subaruwrx So root is more dangerous than "Administrator" if you're not careful eh? :D
:D, I'd say they're about the same, but running most things on Windows can be dangerous as Administrator. It's one of my pet hates about windows, why have a default user with unlimited privs? It makes more sense to have one extra step in the installation process (su) to prevent scripts being run by accident which install stuff :)
Still, it makes it easier for average computer users to install stuff...whether or not that's a good thing I don't know :P