8.3 The Superuser Account

The superuser account, usually called root, comes preconfigured to facilitate system administration, and should not be used for day-to-day tasks like sending and receiving mail, general exploration of the system, or programming.

This is because the superuser, unlike normal user accounts, can operate without limits, and misuse of the superuser account may result in spectacular disasters. User accounts are unable to destroy the system by mistake, so it is generally best to use normal user accounts whenever possible, unless you especially need the extra privilege.

You should always double and triple-check commands you issue as the superuser, since an extra space or missing character can mean irreparable data loss.

So, the first thing you should do after reading this chapter is to create an unprivileged user account for yourself for general usage if you have not already. This applies equally whether you are running a multi-user or single-user machine. Later in this chapter, we discuss how to create additional accounts, and how to change between the normal user and superuser.

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