Like title says, is there a difference between these two commands :
sudo su - root sudo -u root -H /bin/bash
I'm using GNU/Linux, if that makes a difference.
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su - # causes the user to run a login shell aka bash --login # the same as if the user had logged in as the root from the login prompt
sudo su - is the same as
sudo su - root specifying root is redundant.
sudo -u root -H /bin/bash again the
-u root is redundant,
sudo runs as root by default but the
-H /bin/bash is run as an sudoer, the env vars SUDO_USER, SUDO_UID and SUDO_COMMAND are set to the callers name/uid and bash respectively.
But in this case, bash is not run as a login shell.
Obviously, they can differ if root shell isn't /bin/bash - this is possible for tiny or embedded Linux environments, or traditional for BSD systems which prefer /bin/[t]csh for root user. Also, `su -' drops all environment except a few variables related to the terminal. sudo's behavior on environment is configurable (see env_reset in /etc/sudoers). So, be careful with details...
The biggest difference between the two commands you listed is that running
su - will cause the shell to be a login shell. That means that root's shell's login scripts will be executed (.bash_profile for example, if it's bash), the PWD will be set to $HOME, and certain parts of the user environment will be initialized.
sudo bash just runs a new shell as the target user's shell, and the -H just initializes one variable, $HOME, to the target user's home directory. Other variables will not be set, and some will be carried over to the new shell, as defined in your sudo policy.