Please explain root user concept

Hello, I’m a long time Windows user but I’ll be dual-booting Manjaro when my new laptop arrives. My custom in Windows is to set up an account as an administrator that I will never use and then to set up a second main account that lacks these privileges for greater security. Whenever I need the privileges, I simply enter the password. The extra step does not bother me at all.

My question concerns how this is done on Linux. If I go through the install process, would the first user I create be the root? Would I then have to set up a second user so as to not have root access automatically enabled? Or does Linux allow having root without actually making an account for it (as in requiring a password instead of an entire user)? What do I do if I want to replicate in Manjaro my habit on Windows. Please explain it as if I’m an idiot and don’t assume that I know anything. Thanks in advance!

The root user is almost the same as your Administrator user on Windows. It has the power to do anything. Root user is always part of the system, it is not created.

But the first user you set up on most Linux systems will be part of the wheel usergroup, which is kind of like an administrator group of users. They are allowed to execute the sudo (SuperUserDo) command, which grants the user administrator rights just for the following command.

You can switch to the real root user, if you run su from any user account and enter the root users password.


The concept of users and groups is nicely explained here:

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Thank you for the answer. So if I am understanding this correctly, Linux cuts out the first step of creating an administrator/root user account and simply makes the first user the lower privilege type? Therefore, the root user is not an actual user that I can switch to like on Windows but a sort of power that I can enable with the proper credentials?

Do I have to do anything special in the Manjaro install to set this up? Or will it force me to set up both a user password and a root password?

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Calamares (manjaro installer has this option)

It is a real user, it’s just not one that should be run in general of not needed. I think I might have been on the root user of my machine like 2 times this year. The rest have been done through sudo.


I consider me as an end-user of Manjaro, and I think I have never needed to use su. For my usecase I just use sudo the few times I actually use the terminal.


I’m still new to Arch/Manjaro, but I’ve found that while traversing the terminal CLI it makes a big difference whether I obtain root privileges via sudo or su … in terms of where I’m located as a result.

If you check with pwd immediately before/after you enter either su and sudo will see the consequences of your choice. :vulcan_salute:

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