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11.1. Acting as Root

Like all Unix systems, Mac OS X has a concept of a special user named root. Root can read from and modify any part of the filesystem, execute any program, and send signals (including the terminate signal) to all running programs and processes, regardless of who might own them. Root doesn't correspond to any one user; instead, a user with proper access privileges can become root temporarily in order to perform tasks that the Unix file and process permission systems wouldn't otherwise allow, such as launching or reloading system services or installing software on the Darwin side of things (see Chapter 24).

Mac OS X offers a couple of well-known ways to step into root's shoes via the Terminal, and a somewhat obscure way to perform the more dangerous act of logging into the system as the root user.


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