Log in as root in Ubuntu 1

How to Login as Root in Ubuntu GUI

In this article, we’ll cover how to log in as root in Ubuntu GUI to access root privileges. Continue reading to find out how to login as a root user in Ubuntu.

Root User in Ubuntu GUI

In Ubuntu GUI, root user privileges are not enabled by default—which means you cannot access GUI as a root user—this is a default security feature to save the Ubuntu desktop environment from unprivileged users. However, you can log in to the Ubuntu machine as root to test the system or access it in critical scenarios. 

Since all root privileges are accessible by the sudo command, it is recommended not to use the root account to log in, as it increases the chance of messing up the system. In addition, logging in as a root user is common on servers. However, using the root account in the Ubuntu GNOME desktop interface is uncommon. 

How to log in as Root in Ubuntu GUI

In this section, we’ll discuss how you can log in as root in GUI. Follow this tutorial to access Ubuntu as a root user. Also, note that this guide is for educational purposes only since using the root account on GUI is not recommended. 

Set the Root Account Password in Ubuntu

The first step to log in as root in Ubuntu is using the root credentials to edit the custom.conf file. For this step, first set the password as shown below:

sudo passwd root

The output should look something like this:

Login as root in Ubuntu

Type the password for the root account and hit the “Enter” key. However, you can skip this step if the root already has a password. 

Activate the Root Account

The second step to log in as root in Ubuntu is to activate the root user account. For this step, use the usermod command. Specifically, type:

sudo usermod -U root

After that, enable the lightdm, gdm, or kdm mode for the root account.

Edit the Custom.conf File in Ubuntu

Once the account is active, we’ll edit the custom.conf located at /etc/gdm3/. Since it is a system file, we’ll create the backup first using the cp command. Specifically, type:

cp /etc/gdm3/custom.conf /etc/gdm3/custom.conf~

After that, open the custom.conf file using your favorite text editor. For instance, type:

# nano text editor
sudo nano /etc/gdm3/custom.conf
# vim text editor
sudo vim /etc/gdm3/custom.conf

Once the file is open, add the following lines at the end of the file:

AllowRoot=true

The output should look something like this:

Log in as root in Ubuntu

Hit “Ctrl + S” to save and “Ctrl + X” to exit the nano editor. To exit the vim editor, press the “Esc” key. After that, type colon “:” followed by “x”, like this:

:x

 Hit the “Enter” key to exit the vim editor. 

KDM Ubuntu 

In the KDM Ubuntu mode, edit the /etc/sddm.conf. However, if the file isn’t available, you can create it using the touch, nano, or vim commands. For instance, type:

# touch command
sudo touch /etc/sddm.conf.d/uid.conf 
# nano editor 
sudo nano /etc/sddm.conf.d/uid.conf
# vim editor 
sudo vim /etc/sddm.conf.d/uid.conf 

Next, add or change the following lines in the uid.conf file:

MinimumUid=0

It will show all users on the system, including root.

Output: 

Change UID file

Hit “Ctrl + S” to save and “Ctrl + X” to exit the nano editor. To exit the vim editor, press the “Esc” key. After that, type colon “:” followed by “x”, the same as before:

:x 

Hit the “Enter” key to exit the vim editor. 

Make sure to reboot the system to implement the changes. For this step, execute the reboot command as shown below:

sudo reboot

LightDM Ubuntu

In the case of the LightDM Ubuntu manager, you’ll have to edit the file located at /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf. Execute the following command to open the file:

# nano editor 
sudo nano /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf
# vim editor 
sudo vim /etc/lightdm/lightdm.conf 

Next, add the line given below:

add greeter-show-manual-login=true

Same as the previous step before this, hit “Ctrl + S” to save and “Ctrl + X” to exit the nano editor. To exit the vim editor, press the “Esc” key. Afterwards, type colon “:” followed by “x”, like this:

:x

Hit the “Enter” key to exit the vim editor. 

Lastly, reboot the system using the reboot command. For example, type:

sudo reboot

Edit PAM Authentication Daemon Configuration File

After that, we will edit the PAM authentication daemon configuration file. This file is located at /etc/pam.d/gdm-password. Open this file as well using your favorite text editor. For instance, type:

# nano text editor
sudo nano /etc/pam.d/gdm-password
# vim text editor
sudo vim /etc/pam.d/gdm-password

Comment on the following lines in the file:

auth required pam_succeed_if.so user != root quiet_success

This statement denies access to the Ubuntu GUI. to comment, add the pound “#” operator as shown below:

# auth required pam_succeed_if.so user != root quiet_success 

Save your file and exit the text editor. 

Reboot the Ubuntu GUI

Once the changes are done, reboot the system using the reboot command. For example:

sudo reboot

Once the system has rebooted, you will be able to log in as root in Ubuntu GUI. Enter the root username and the root password which you configured before. 

Disable Root Login in Ubuntu GUI

To revert the root account access, you can disable the root log in in Ubuntu GUI. for this step, use the passwd command. Specifically, type:

sudo passwd -dl root

This will revert the changes that you’ve made to enable the root login on Ubuntu GUI.

And that’s all for this guide. Here, we looked at how you can enable log in as root in Ubuntu GUI. This should work for the GNOME desktop environment. However, it is not recommended to enable the root login as you can achieve all root-level tasks with the sudo command. But if you enabled it, make sure to disable it once you’re done. 

Learn more about disabling root accounts, modifying kernel variables, and blocking kernel updates at Distroid.

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