Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

How To Become a Superuser in Ubuntu

Ubuntu 21

In Ubuntu, a Linux-based operating system, the term “superuser” refers to a user who has administrative privileges. This user can perform tasks that are restricted for other users. In this article, we will guide you through the process of becoming a superuser in Ubuntu.

Quick Answer

To become a superuser in Ubuntu, you can use the sudo command to execute specific commands with elevated privileges. The root account is disabled by default in Ubuntu for security reasons, but you can enable it if necessary. However, it is generally recommended to use sudo for administrative tasks and exercise caution when using the root account.

Understanding the Superuser

The superuser, often referred to as the root user, has unrestricted access to all commands and files on a Linux operating system. This user can perform tasks such as installing software, changing system settings, and accessing protected files. However, in Ubuntu, the root account is disabled by default for security reasons.

Instead of using the root account, Ubuntu encourages the use of the sudo command to perform administrative tasks. The sudo command stands for “superuser do”. It allows you to execute specific commands with elevated privileges.

Using the Sudo Command

To use the sudo command, you simply prepend it to the command you wish to execute as a superuser. For example, if you want to install a package using the dpkg command, you would type:

$ sudo dpkg -i package.deb

In this command, -i is a parameter that instructs dpkg to install the package. package.deb is the name of the package you want to install.

After running a sudo command, you will be prompted to enter your password. This is the password for your user account, not the root password. Once you enter your password, the command will execute with superuser privileges.

Caution When Using Sudo

While the sudo command is a powerful tool, it should be used with caution. Since it grants you extensive control over the system, a small error could have significant consequences. Always double-check your commands before executing them.

Furthermore, avoid using sudo for commands that don’t require superuser privileges. This is a good practice to maintain the security and stability of your system.

Enabling the Root Account (Optional)

While it’s generally recommended to use sudo for administrative tasks, there may be situations where you need to enable the root account. You can do this by setting a password for the root user:

$ sudo passwd root

After running this command, you will be prompted to enter and confirm a new password for the root account. Once the password is set, you can switch to the root user by using the su command:

$ su - root

Again, please exercise caution when using the root account. Avoid logging in as root for daily use, and always log out of the root account when you’re done.


Becoming a superuser in Ubuntu involves understanding the use of the sudo command and the implications of elevated privileges. By using sudo responsibly, you can effectively perform administrative tasks while maintaining the security of your system. If necessary, you can also enable and use the root account, but this should be done sparingly and with caution.

For more information on using sudo and understanding user privileges in Ubuntu, refer to the Ubuntu documentation.

How do I know if I am currently a superuser in Ubuntu?

You can check if you are currently a superuser by running the whoami command in the terminal. If the output is root, then you are currently logged in as the superuser.

Can I use `sudo` for graphical applications in Ubuntu?

Yes, you can use sudo for graphical applications in Ubuntu. However, it is generally recommended to use gksudo or pkexec instead, as they are specifically designed for running graphical applications with elevated privileges. For example, you can use gksudo gedit to open the text editor with superuser privileges.

How can I check the history of `sudo` commands I have executed?

You can check the history of sudo commands by running the sudo -l command. This will display a list of commands that you have executed with sudo. Additionally, you can check the file /var/log/auth.log to view the system log, which includes information about sudo commands executed by all users.

Can I customize the timeout period for `sudo`?

Yes, you can customize the timeout period for sudo in Ubuntu. By default, sudo will prompt for your password every 15 minutes. You can modify this by editing the sudoers file using the sudo visudo command and changing the timestamp_timeout value. However, it is recommended to exercise caution when making changes to this file and to follow the instructions in the file carefully.

How can I revoke or remove `sudo` privileges for a user in Ubuntu?

To remove sudo privileges for a user, you can simply remove the user from the sudo group. You can use the deluser command with the --remove-home option to remove the user and their home directory simultaneously. For example, sudo deluser --remove-home username will remove the user "username" and their home directory.

Can I use `sudo` with a blank password?

No, you cannot use sudo with a blank password in Ubuntu. The sudo command requires you to enter your user account password in order to execute commands with superuser privileges.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *