Windows has a super-administrator account that has not only elevated privileges to perform protected system functions, but unfettered access to anything on the computer, regardless of user ownership. Does Linux have an equivalent? My understanding is that in terms of access to all user accounts, root is just another user (it would defeat user security if any user could become any other user simply by doing it via root).

  • Thanks for the replies. I had read that using su to become another user requires the user's password. On a multi-user system, how would you give a number of users access to perform system tasks but not access to other user's files?
    – fixer1234
    Oct 6 '14 at 7:38
  • 4
    You can use sudo to let certain users run certain programs as root. Oct 6 '14 at 7:40
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    It should be noted that sudo isn't just for running things as root, but as other users too, and can be restricted as such.
    – remmy
    Oct 6 '14 at 8:11
  • And it should also be noted that sudo can be restricted as to what commands what users are allowed to run with altered credentials. For example, you could allow a user to change the system date/time, or stop and restart system services (e.g., network or print queues), without giving him the ability to look at other users' files (i.e., by not letting him run things like ls, cat, cp, vi, and chmod as root). Oct 16 '14 at 17:29

In Linux/Unix the user with user id 0 is such a super administrator. The user is usually called "root", but the magic is really behind the id and not the name.

That user is especially not bound to local file access permissions and can read and write any file. That user also has the ability to change to any other user without needing a password.

  • 1
    Please note that SELinux can restrict root access in the system.
    – Uwe Plonus
    Oct 6 '14 at 8:13

Your understanding is wrong. root is all-powerful, and becoming other users is a critical part of root's usefulness.


Im not sure what "Windows super-administrator" is but, what you are asking for is root. You can run it using sudo.

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