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So far in this chapter we've been talking about user accounts and user privileges. The things that a user is or is not allowed to access on the Unix file system. Now I like us to talk about a special kind of Unix account, which is the root user. The root user is a super user account that can do absolutely anything on the Unix system. It can open any file, it can run any program, it can change any permissions. It is an all-powerful user that's not bound by the normal user permissions that we've been discussing so far. So the root user can see Lynda's photos and they can read Kevin's documents.
In fact, they can even delete Kevin and Lynda's accounts. When Unix is first installed on a computer, it's this root user that exists before you've even created the user accounts. So as the root user, you would first create Kevin's account, give him a password, and then from then on we can log in as Kevin. Now in Mac OS X, you don't see that process happen, because the Mac OS X installer does it for you. As you're installing Mac OS X, it comes up and says, hey, what information do you want for your first user account? You fill it out, you provide the username and a password, and then acting as the root user, it creates that first user for you and then it actually disables the root user.
So the root user is disabled by default in Mac OS X. Now the root user can be re-enabled, but you don't need to and I really don't advise it. So why talk about it then? Well, it's an important Unix concept and it's going to have implications in a lot of the things that we're going to do. And you may also read or hear references to it, either in the man pages as you research information about different commands or on blogs as you go out and continue learning about Unix after you leave this tutorial. You may even hear in movies or TV shows where hackers talk about getting root, right? Or having root access.
That's what they are talking about. They're talking about becoming this all-powerful root user. And lastly, it's going to be important when we talk about sudo. sudo is essentially a command that lets us temporarily take on those abilities of the root user. And we'll see that how to do that in the next movie.
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