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I presume this applies to any Gnome desktop. What is the difference between these two commands? According to the Ubuntu documentation and questions that reference it, the former also sets the $HOME environment variable and copy the .Xauthority variable to temporary location, but are those the only differences for all systems running Gnome, or do they only apply to Ubuntu?

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Between gksu and sudo? Or between gksu and gksudo? – Gilles Feb 28 '13 at 22:46
@Gilles I thought gksudo just linked to gksu, at least on Ubuntu. – Ricardo Altamirano Feb 28 '13 at 22:49
@RicardoAltamirano that doesn't mean anything. It can still function differently – warl0ck Mar 5 '13 at 14:56
@warl0ck Can gksudo function differently on a system (like Ubuntu) where it's nothing more than symlink to gksu? (It's a serious question. I don't know enough about Linux to know if it makes a difference). – Ricardo Altamirano Mar 5 '13 at 14:59
@RicardoAltamirano by checking the name of the soft link, if it's gksudo, act like gksudo; if it's gksu act like gksu – warl0ck Mar 5 '13 at 15:10
up vote 4 down vote accepted

After searching at greater length and finding a few other sources, I think it's safe to say that gksu is nothing more than a wrapper around sudo in most cases. This source states that since gksu displays a password dialog, it's used for graphical applications (as we already know) because it can be used outside a terminal emulator. Otherwise, running sudo <cmd> from a launcher wouldn't work because the user wouldn't be prompted for a password.

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I remember I couldn't run some X applications with sudo, but was able to run them with gksudo or kdesudo.

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