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Chapter 11. Additional System Components > Enabling the root Account

Enabling the root Account

As mentioned earlier, the administrator account is a powerful account. But the most powerful account on a Unix machine is the account called root. People also refer to root as the super user, but the account name itself is root. On most Unix systems, the first available account is the root account. In OS X, however, the root account is disabled by default as a security precaution.

At some time, however, you might find it necessary to enable the root account. The root account can modify system settings, modify files it does not own, modify files that are not writable by default, modify a user's password, install software, become another user without having to know the password of that account, and so on. In other words, root can do anything anywhere, making the power of root immense. Because root has so much power, the only users who can become root are users with administrative privileges. Because a user with administrative privileges can become the root user, you should assign these capabilities to only completely trusted individuals.


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