all I ever use linux for is things that require root, e.g., modifying partitions on usb drives. I'd like to just log in as root and run X11 without being hassled about it every time I turn around. Is there a linux distribution that works that way? I don't want to use a gparted live cd as I do other hardware hacking as well, so a genuine installable OS would be preferred. in older versions of ubuntu it wasn't hard to enable the root user but seems to be impossible (I just tried in a recent version of ubuntu mate).

before everybody leaps over themselves to save me: I just want to know how to do what I've asked, not the 1000s of reason why it's the worst idea in the world. Thank you for your understanding.

  • IIRC the Debian installer asks you if you want to set a password for root. You may also need to add PermitRootLogin yes to /etc/ssh/sshd_config and then you're all set. I haven't used Ubuntu in a while, but I really don't believe it's that hard to use root as you claim. I also don't believe that you need linux just to modify partitions on usb drives.
    – user313992
    Sep 22, 2020 at 23:41
  • yes, I said I had other needs beyond partitioning, which is why a live cd wasn't a good choice.
    – Al Ro
    Sep 23, 2020 at 0:38
  • 1
    Fedora must work just fine. Sep 23, 2020 at 1:19

2 Answers 2


As long as the root password is set, this works on Debian and presumably many other distros.

  • unbuntu based distributions require more changes that that.
    – Al Ro
    Sep 23, 2020 at 18:12
  • 1
    Ubuntu is based on Debian, not the other way around. I don't know about Ubuntu specifically, but on either the current or last Debian release I tested logging in to the GUI directly as root and using GUI programs.
    – resiliware
    Sep 23, 2020 at 22:47
  • ubuntu may be based on Debian but is not the same as Debian and setting the root password does not work on the ubuntu based distributions I've tried.
    – Al Ro
    Sep 29, 2020 at 4:22

The raspberry pi OS lets you do this. And although you might think that it's for the Pi boards only, there's an official x86/amd64 build.

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