Problem with activating the root user in OS X

Discussion in 'Mac Help/Tips' started by yamadataro, Dec 18, 2002.

  1. yamadataro macrumors 6502

    I'm trying to activate the root user account on my G4 Dual 1Ghz/OS X 10.2.2 by following instructions available at Apple site and OS X Missing Manual.

    I try to activate root with NetInfo by doing...
    1. Security>Autheticate, type in my admin password
    2. Security>Enable Root User. I type the new passwords. Then I get the error message "NetInfo Error : NetInfo write failed (operation succeeded)" Then "NetInfo error: Can't authenticate new user and password" Then "NetInfo Error : NetInfo write failed (operation suceceeded)" again and "NetInfo error: Can't authenticate new user and password" once more. Then "Alert: You must re-authenticate to make additional changes"

    I've also experienced file permission problems while installing a copy of Adobe GoLive. At the end of the installation process, it says I don't have enough permission to install. I find this weird since I'm on an administrator account.

    Do I have a OS-wide permission problem here, I guess.
    As far as I remember I've never done anything other than creating a new account when I bought this machine. Never messed with permissions.

    I'd appreciate it if somebody can tell any solutions to this root user problem. I know basic stuff about command line terminal. So if there is a command line way to activate root, that would nice too.

  2. sparkleytone macrumors 68020


    Oct 28, 2001
    Greensboro, NC
    drop to the terminal and do the following:

    'sudo passwd root'

    enter current user password

    enter new password for root user
    re-enter password

    that should work fine.
  3. yamadataro thread starter macrumors 6502

    Thanks sparkleytone!
    That was a super fast reply. I've done sudo and I could login as root!

    If I could do it this easy on command line, why do they recommend using NetInfo, I wonder??? Because it's the only GUI way of doing it? Anybody requiring to use a root account is tech minded, aren't they?

    Anyhow, I strongly appreciate your help!
    Thanks again.
  4. mmmdreg macrumors 65816


    Apr 14, 2002
    Sydney, Australia
    that netinfo stuff is fairly "tech minded" stuff anyway so works fine for most people so you can't really be against it just because the CLI worked first go...

    on another note, referring to your privileges problem with the permissions, I can't install windows media player for X or it works on my other computer with one partition, I'm guessing it's to do with the fact that I got my HD seperated into an OSX, Users and Other partitions...could the way I mounted /Volumes/Users at /Users be the problem?
  5. yamadataro thread starter macrumors 6502

    Can I just be the root user all the time?

    I wonder if I should just be the root user all the time. I understand the delicateness of the UNIX system. But this permission stuff is starting to bother me much!

    In the OS 9 days, all of us were basically root users 24/7, right?!

    You UNIX geeks have anything to say about this "always be root" idea of mine? I guess it's not a good idea??? Sombody please spank this bad boy before I explode my G4-Dual :D
  6. saabmp3 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 22, 2002
    Tacoma, WA
    Bad Bad Bad Bad Bad idea. You know all those tiny little stupid mistakes that we all make on computers every day? Well guess what, you would prolly have to reformat your comptuer every time.

  7. yamadataro thread starter macrumors 6502

    Well, I'm still a OS 9 minded guy, although I've moved permanently to X about a year ago.

    I need some extra spanking here.

    Would you please tell me specifics about the difference between being a user who can do anything on OS 9 and being a root user OS X? Is UNIX that valunalable, I guess? I wonder why?

    I've been doing some crazy stuff with OS 9's system folder for many years and it's kinda sad not to be able to do that anymore.
  8. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    Don't take this as gospel, I'm not a UNIX guy, but I think the problem with being logged in as root all the time is that the system really will let you do whatever the hell you want without really prompting you to stop and think about it. It's just a bad idea. Stick with your Admin account and use root when you need to, but it really is better for both you and your comp if you don't stay as root.
    Even UNIX SA's (system admins) with root access over networks don't use their root accounts unless they have to because of the damage that be be done without you even realising it.
  9. irmongoose macrumors 68030


    Dec 3, 2001
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    Exactly. In OS 9, even if you tried to trash the system folder, it would say "cannot delete system folder because it is in use' or whatever. Even in OS X it says something. But once you are root, you won't get any of that. Nothing.

    Of course, you're not stupid so you won't trash the system folder (i hope)... but it just means you can make a mistake of that high a degree and you won't even notice until AFTER you've done it. So... I either suggest you stick with what you have with an Admin account or you reinstall the system.

  10. yamadataro thread starter macrumors 6502

    Oh, I've never thought of these warnings.
    I didn't realize the OS trusts root user that much...

    OK, that's enough scary story for me to stay with my own account.


    I feel like abig boy now :cool:
  11. irmongoose macrumors 68030


    Dec 3, 2001
    Sometimes Tokyo, sometimes California
    Yeah root is god. It's not like the OS trusts root.. root makes the OS do whatever it wants. Hence such phrases as 'Bow before me. I am root' :D

    And, also something to keep in mind... another name for root is SUPER USER :eek: .. that's why you type sudo... the su is super user.

  12. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

    Jun 25, 2002
    Gone but not forgotten.
    UNIX was written for people who knew what they were doing, just as the C programming language was.

    They assume that you know so, if you have the authority, you can do it. It doesn't have to make sense, you can do it.

    I've administered several large systems (only hundreds of users at a time) and I would only use the most powerful accounts sparingly because most of the time, you don't need that much control. Besides, if you forget where you are in the system, you can delete things that belong to the system when you think you're deleting your own person things. The pwd (print working directory) command becomes quite a bit more important if you don't show the current directory in your prompt. Obviously, with a GUI, you've less of a chance unless you're in Library directories.

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