DSL Users
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DSL Users

 Who and what is root?

The root user is the superuser, the administrator of the entire system. When Linux is installed you must create a root user so that administration of the system is available. By default only the root user can administer the system, things like creating user accounts, mounting disks, adding programs and changing configuration. You should not login as root unless you need to make changes to the system. This concept is to prevent you from unintentionally making changes that damage the system. Normal users because they cannot make changes, cannot damage the system, at least not as easily. This is great for administrators because the system itself prevents damage by limiting the power of normal users.

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User Login

Linux is a multiuser system. This means that many users may access a system at one time or at different times. Each user has a specific login as well as an individual desktop. This means that if a number of users are going to use the system there has to be a method of keeping users files and programs separate from other users, thus a login. The Login will tell the system who you are and will then provide for you all of the resources that you are entitled to. At the same time the system will protect your resources from other people on the system as well as other people on other systems, i.e. the Internet.

When you login you must have a user name and a password.

User Name:

When you have completed your session, time spent on the computer, you will need to logout so that the system knows your resources will not be needed, will be saved properly and protected from other users. Typically when you logout on a Linux system you will be asked to confirm that is what you want to do.


When you logout you may choose to either, logout but leave the computer running so that it may be available as others are still on the machine or logout and shut the computer down.


The User Interface

The Linux system can either run with the graphical user interface which is the interface that allows users to see images and text. Or the Linux system can run only in text mode which allows you to do everything faster and more efficiently but requires extensive knowledge of Linux commands and programs. Each option can compliment the other. In fact, many users find it more productive to use both interfaces.

Here is an example of a graphical user interface commonly known as a GUI.

The GUI gives you a background which you can change, icons which are links to programs, and visual aids in most programs are available for word processing, image manipulation, spreadsheets, etc. The GUI uses images to help the user make decisions as to how to use the operating system through the use of icons.

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The text mode has no hints through the use of icons, or arrows, etc. The user must know the commands necessary to accomplish each task. For a new Linux user the aspect of understanding even a fraction of the 10,000 Linux commands with variations is overwhelming. However, every Linux user must be able to use 10-20 commands.