I freshly installed Debian 9.0 with Cinnamon and for some reason I can only open the root terminal once (after I start up the PC).

When I try to open it up a second time it doesn't show: when I press OK after entering the correct administrative password the screen just shortly flickers black and nothing happens (besides the password-window getting closed of course). It also flickers black when I press cancel without entering anything.

I have "Remember password" unchecked (albeit having had it checked once).

Edit: this might be relevant - earlier (maybe due to having it checked once) I once got this message when opening up Synaptic:

The '/usr/bin/x-terminal-emulator' program was started with the privileges of the root user without the need to ask for a password, due to your system's authentication mechanism setup.

It is possible that you are being allowed to run specific programs as user root without the need for a password, or that the password is cached.

This is not a problem report; it's simply a notification to make sure you are aware of this.

Edit: I'm new to Linux so I'm not sure which logfiles I should look into and what to look for. When I try to open the root terminal a 2nd time I get this in /var/log/auth.log:

Successful su for root by myuser
+ /dev/pts/1 myuser:root
pam_unix(su:session): session opened for user root by (uid=1000)
pam_systemd(su:session): Cannot create session: Already running in a session
pam_unix(su:session): session closed for user root

I closed the root terminal before that by pressing its X close button.

With "Root Terminal" I'm referring to that shortcut with the red screen as icon. The usual terminal works just fine (with su).

  • 1
    What happens when you enter a regular terminal and run 'su'. Can you get it? Jun 22 '17 at 16:22
  • @MichaelBruce Yes! That works (even multiple times). Thank you - that basically answers half of my question (I'm still new to Linux).
    – mYnDstrEAm
    Jun 22 '17 at 16:31
  • The reason is probably in some log file.
    – Barmar
    Jun 22 '17 at 16:37
  • @Barmar Yes, but I'm not sure which and what to look for (as said I'm new to Linux/Debian). I looked into /var/log/auth.log where I find that session is created and closed "for user lightdm" before I login to my account but I guess that's normal (I could find some search engine entries on this)? I added the log entries for when I try to open it a 2nd time above.
    – mYnDstrEAm
    Jun 22 '17 at 17:03
  • @Arrow Have you deleted your answer here? Why? You could restore from: webcache.googleusercontent.com/… Also it closes correctly by the X-close button but I still can't open it up again after closure.
    – mYnDstrEAm
    Jun 24 '17 at 10:28

It is an old bug in Debian that is not going to be fixed any time soon, considering the last message from Simon McVittie, on the 4th of July 2017, quoting:

The gksu package (gksu, gksudo commands and the "root terminal" launcher) should be considered deprecated, and hasn't been touched since 2014. We should probably remove it from Debian before Debian 10.

Running gnome-terminal (or any graphical program, really) as root is not really something that is supported any more. gnome-terminal segfaulting (signal 11) when run like this is clearly a bug and should in principle be fixed, but it is unlikely to be anyone's highest priority.

Best practice is to run as much as possible (in particular all GUIs) as an ordinary user, and use sudo, pkexec, su -, ssh root@localhost or your favourite similar tool to escalate privileges where necessary.

(note: gksu is what is actually used to launch gnome-terminal with the root user when you click on "Root terminal")

So, as already advised by Michael Bruce, open a classic terminal and type su or su - (the latter being preferable IMHO).


Open a normal terminal and type 'su'. This should get you to root access. We can delve farther on your issue once this is clear.

  • Can you open your /usr/share/applications folder and look at the properties of the GUI your are using? does it say sudo <application_name> or gksudo?? Jun 22 '17 at 17:15
  • How do I look at the properties of the GUI I'm using? As I understand it by rightclicking Cinnamon->Properties? But I couldn't find anything of that sort in its properties nor anywhere in the title of the window so I'm not sure what you mean.
    – mYnDstrEAm
    Jun 22 '17 at 17:24
  • in the basic terminal type ls /user/share/applications/*terminal, what do you see/ Jun 22 '17 at 17:31
  • I imagine you have gnome-terminal. Either way, on your desktop pres Alt-F2. A diolog box should pop up and type gksudo <flavor>-terminal. Flavor being the name of yours such as gnome. Let me know if that works. Jun 22 '17 at 17:35
  • In the properties of "Terminal" under /usr/share/applications/ it says "gnome-terminal". I have Cinnamon installed. When I enter gksudo gnome-terminal there and enter the correct administrative password I only get a loading mouse for 2 sec. (And I restarted my PC before trying. When trying the same with sudo instead of gksudo nothing happens.)
    – mYnDstrEAm
    Jun 22 '17 at 18:00

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