Working as Root

The root, or super user, account is a special account and user on UNIX and Linux systems. When logged in as root, you have total control over your system, which can be dangerous.

When you work in root, you can destroy a running system with a simple invocation of the rm command like this:

This command line not only deletes files and directories but also could wipe out file systems on other partitions and even remote computers. This alone is reason enough to take precautions when using root access.

The only time you should run Linux as the super user is when you are configuring the file system, for example, or to repair or maintain the system. Logging in and using Linux as the root operator isn’t a good idea because it defeats the entire concept of file permissions.


Before editing any important system or software service configuration file, make a backup copy. Then make sure to launch you text editor with line wrapping disabled. If you edit a configuration file without disabling line wrapping, you could insert spurious carriage returns and line feeds into its contents, causing the configured service to fail when restarting. By convention, nearly all configuration file are formatted for 80-character text width, but this is not always the case. By default, the vi and emacs editor don’t use line wrapping.

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