How to Change from User to Superuser in a Terminal?


The terminal is a command-line interface that allows users to interact with their computer’s operating system. It is an essential tool for software developers, system administrators, and power users because it provides direct access to the operating system.

The terminal can be accessed through the operating system’s graphical user interface or by logging in remotely through a secure shell (SSH) connection. In a terminal, there are two types of accounts: the user account and the superuser account.

A user account is created when an individual sets up their computer or when someone creates an additional account on an already existing machine. This type of account has limited privileges and cannot perform tasks that require elevated privileges.

On the other hand, a superuser account is also known as the root account, which is created during the installation of the operating system. This type of account has unrestricted access to all parts of the system and can make changes that would affect all users on that machine.

Importance of Changing from User to Superuser

There are times when commands need elevated privileges for execution, such as installing or updating software packages, modifying system settings or configurations, or accessing certain files or directories that require root permissions. In such cases, switching from a regular user account to a superuser becomes necessary.

However, it’s important to note that using superuser privileges carelessly could potentially harm your computer’s stability and security. Therefore it’s essential only to use it when required and exit from superuser mode once its task completes.

Understanding how to switch from user mode into superuser mode in a terminal environment is vital for performing various administrative tasks. In this article section above we have learned about what terminals are and their importance along with detailed definitions of user accounts versus superusers accounts in terminal environments as well as the importance of changing between these two account types when modifying system settings or accessing certain files or directories.

Understanding User and Superuser Accounts

The Definition of User Account

In a terminal, a user account is essentially a standard user account. This type of account is created by default when installing an operating system.

It has limited access to the system, including restrictions on the files and directories it can access and the commands it can execute. Essentially, this type of account provides basic functionality for users to navigate the system.

The Definition of Superuser Account

A superuser account is also known as “root” or “administrator”. This type of account has unrestricted access to every aspect of the operating system, including all files and directories and complete control over all functions. Essentially, this type of account provides complete control over the system.

Differences Between User and Superuser Accounts

The main difference between user accounts and superuser accounts in a terminal is their level of privileges. A user account has limited permissions whereas a superuser has full control over all aspects of the operating system.

In general, users should use their accounts for everyday tasks such as browsing files or running basic programs while only using root when it is necessary to perform administrative tasks like installing software packages or configuring settings that require elevated permissions. Additionally, there are several other differences between user accounts and superusers:

– Users have specific limitations on accessing certain directories but root has unrestricted access – Users cannot change certain configurations that require sudo powers while root can alter any configuration

– Root can modify files that are off-limits for users due to restricted file permission Understanding these two types of accounts in a terminal is essential in order to effectively use the device’s capabilities without compromising its security protocols or violating administrative best practices.

Changing from User to Superuser Account in Terminal

Using the “su” command to switch to the root user account

The “su” (short for switch user) command is a Linux command that allows a current user to change or switch to another user account. This is commonly used by users who need elevated privileges or superuser access when performing system administration tasks or when installing software applications.

To change your current user account to a superuser account, type the following command into the terminal:

sh su -

The “-” argument tells the system that you want not only to switch accounts but also inherit all of the environment variables and working directory of the root user.

Entering the root password to authenticate as the superuser

Once you enter the “su” command, you will be prompted for a password. This password is associated with the new or target account that you want to use (in this case, it’s “root”). Type in your root password and press Enter.

If it’s correct, you will gain access as a superuser. It’s important to note that if you don’t have authority for using sudo permission, then this step will only work if you are already logged in as an administrator on your system.

Verifying that you are now logged in as the superuser

To check whether you have successfully switched from your current user account to a superuser/root account, simply type:

sh whoami

This command returns your currently logged-in username.

If it displays “root,” then congratulations! You’ve successfully switched from being just another user on your system to being an all-powerful administrator.

Benefits of Being Logged In as a Superuser

Being logged in as a superuser gives you the ability to execute commands that require elevated privileges. This means that you can perform actions that would otherwise be restricted to regular users, such as creating and modifying system files.

Additionally, being logged in as a superuser allows you to install, update, or remove software packages with ease. You can also modify system settings and configurations without restrictions.

Precautions When Logged In as a Superuser

While the benefits of being logged in as a superuser are numerous, there are also risks associated with it. One major risk is the possibility of accidentally executing harmful commands that could damage your system or compromise your security.

It is important to be cautious when executing commands with elevated privileges and to ensure that you fully understand what each command does before running it. Always double-check the syntax before hitting enter.


Changing from user to superuser in a terminal is an essential skill for any Linux user who wants to take control of their system and perform advanced tasks. While there are many benefits associated with being logged in as a superuser, there are also risks involved.

By following best practices and taking precautions when executing commands with elevated privileges, you can ensure that your system remains secure while still enjoying all the benefits of having access to advanced functionality. With practice and careful attention to detail, anyone can become proficient at using the command-line interface and harness the full power of their Linux machine!

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