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What is root?

Root is the name of the most powerful account on a Debian installation. The root user account can do everything on the machine. Root is also known as supervisor and administrator. Root's home (~) folder is /root.

root has uid1 0 and gid2 0.


At installation time, you are asked whether you want to use the root account or not.

  • If you want to (the default), you'll be asked to provide a complex password for root. Use a strong one!

  • If not, no root account is enabled and the password of the first user created will be used for administration tasks.
  • If you forgot your password, read "I forgot the root password!"

How to use root level access as a normal user

  • Under Gnome : in Gnome Application Menu/Accessories/Root Terminal
  • From console : read Debian Reference's Login to a shell prompt as root

  • In a terminal : you can use su (or gksu) to change your identity to root.
    However, it's recommended to configure and use sudo (or gksudo) to run a given command.

When you change from a normal user to root, your prompt will change from user@mypc:~$ to root@mypc:/home/user# .
To find out as which user you're operating now, execute the command whoami .

  1. uid is the user identifier, a number which identifies all user accounts. (1)

  2. gid is the group identifier. (2)