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Old 07-17-2004, 11:24 PM   #1
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Why not log into linux as root?

I've read a few things that say dont log into linux as root, instead always log into linux as a user then if you need to do root commnds use the:

su -c "command"

Now, i dont understand why not just log into as root and do your stuff then logout, why do so many people say this?

One thing i read is that logging in and using Linux as root operator isn't a good idea because it defeats the entire concept of file permissions. What does this mean?

Hopefully somebody can shed some light on this for me.
Old 07-17-2004, 11:51 PM   #2
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You can login as root at a console but do not run X Window Server. Logging in as root can give away your password, so admins sets up users who can login as sudo. Using sudo is the samething as su but it makes it secure because no password is entered. Being as root can be very risky. As root can trash the whole entire system by just running "rm -R /". If you run that command as a normal user, it will give you permission denied.

BTW, I thought this is common sense because everybody has crashed their computer in Windows 3.1, Win95, and Win98.
Old 07-18-2004, 01:27 AM   #3
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Of butter and blades

Originally posted by couvier
...defeats the entire concept of file permissions. What does this mean?

Hopefully somebody can shed some light on this for me. [/B]
Ok. I'll take a stab at this one. As Electro pointed out Windows (particularly the DOS-based W9x/me versions) clearly illustrates the dangers of running as root, but the connection isn't intuitive.

The fact that you're asking about file permission fundamentals leads me to believe that exploring this might be productive. (No offense)

Basically, you want to avoid running as root/Administrator/whatever because those accounts can literally do anything. This is very convenient, since the OS never tells you "no" - you are the god of your own little universe. On the other hand, it's very dangerous, since any program you run is god too, and can do anything it wants. Not to get too Biblical, but think Lucifer here.

Analogizing, running day-to-day activities as root is like using a surgical scalpel to butter your bread - No matter how frozen that butter is, you will get your bread buttered. However, since butter isn't usually frozen your habit of using scalpels means you'll eventually slice off a finger - count on it.

Hope this helped... If not, I'll babble on.
Old 07-18-2004, 07:53 AM   #4
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I think you make a valid point. Sometimes its nice to test something as root. I don't see a problemwith logging in as root and back out again. I've done it myself, but not often. There is, of course the reason one logs in as user and then "su's" to root is because they are still just a regular user, bot with temporary root powers. You can exit and you're not root anymore. This layerd approach is a bit more secure.

I do it because I'm lazy. It takes less time to remain as a user and use "su". There are vry few opportunities where you'd need to check something in a GUI as root, so using "su" is easier and faster with less work.


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