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I would like to be able to set a user account to have the same privelages as root. I previously tried to set the GID in /etc/passwd to 0 (like root) for that user, but that didn't seem to work. Is there something else I need to do?
You can't set a user up identical to root - that would be pretty redundant as far as security is concerned.
Why do you need to have a user setup to emulate root?
It would be better to leave the user as a "normal" user, and setup sudo on your box. I usually add my "admin" users to the 'root' group, then add an entry in to sudoer's file that allow member of the root group to execute anything as root. Then all I have to do is just pre-pend "sudo" to all my commands that need root. It will effectively increase the verbosity of log detail so you can add accountability to root actions to a particular user if they do stuff something.
You can set up a user as a group-0, which will have root privileges, but that's a VERY bad idea. I concur with the previous poster; install and set up SUDO. If you ABSOLUTELY need it, a user can run a SUDO shell, effectively giving them root-rights.
Root should be used sparingly, and with great caution.