Login as Root in Ubuntu GUI

By default, Ubuntu disables the root account. You must use the sudo command for any tasks requiring root privileges.

This is for your own security, of course. Using the system as root all the time is like running around with a sword in your hand. It increases the chances of messing up things.

Logging in as root is still common in the servers. On the desktop side, it’s quite rare to log in as root. Even Kali Linux has changed it.

And yet, a few desktop users want to log in as root. This is not something advisable but surely doable.

in this guide, I will show you how to log in as a root in your GNOME desktop using Ubuntu.

How to login as a root in the GNOME desktop

I won’t advise login as root on the desktop. You have sudo mechanism for all your root needs. Do it only if you have a good enough reason. This tutorial is for demo purposes only. You have been cautioned.

Step 1: Enable root account

You want to log in as root. But the root account is disabled by default. The first step is to enable it.

Change the root account password that will eventually enable the root account for you:

sudo passwd root
Login as Root in Ubuntu GUI

It goes without saying that you should not forget the root password.

Step 2: Change GDM configuration

This part of the tutorial is only valid for GNOME. Please check your desktop environment and ensure that it is GNOME.

Ubuntu uses GNOME by default and GNOME uses the GDM display manager.

To allow log in as root into GNOME, you need to make some changes in the GDM configuration file located at /etc/gdm3/custom.conf.

Make a backup of the config file:

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

In the worst case, if you somehow mess things up, the back up file can be used to replace the existing one from the TTY.

Now, open the GDM file with the following command:

sudo nano /etc/gdm3/custom.conf

And add the following line to allow the root login:

Login as Root in Ubuntu GUI

Press Ctrl+X to exit Nano while saving it.

Step 3: Configure PAM authentication

Now, you will have to configure the PAM authentication daemon file, which can be opened by the following command:

sudo nano /etc/pam.d/gdm-password

In this file, you will have to comment out the following line with the # symbol that denies the root access in GUI:

auth   required        pam_succeed_if.so user != root quiet_success
Login as Root in Ubuntu GUI

Save changes and exit from the nano text editor.

Step 4: Log in as root

Now, reboot your system:


At the login screen, select the Not listed option, enter root in username and enter the password that you configured at the beginning of this guide:

Login as Root in Ubuntu GUI
Logging as root (Click to enlarge)

Once you log in, it will notify you by saying, “logged in as a privileged user”:

Login as Root in Ubuntu GUI

That’s it! Now, you are running your Ubuntu system as a root.

Things you should know when running the system as a root user

There is a reason why Ubuntu disables a root account by default. Want to know why? Here you have it:

Root User in Ubuntu- Important Things You Should Know
How do you become root user in Ubuntu? Either you run commands with root privilege like this: sudo any_command Or you switch user in Ubuntu to root user like this: sudo su In both cases, you’ll have to enter your own user account’s password. But there’s
Login as Root in Ubuntu GUI

And again, it is not advisable to log in a s root in your desktop Linux system. Please follow the norms and stay away from such (mis) adventures.

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