Superuser password lost

Bill Moran wmoran at
Thu Mar 13 02:14:34 UTC 2008

Because I don't think it's appropriate to drag this conversation on
and on, I'm going to try to answer all the responses in a single

Jerry McAllister <jerrymc at> wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 12, 2008 at 11:27:36AM -0400, Bill Moran wrote:
> > 
> > No.  The term "superuser" is a made-up term for any way of gaining
> > root privs.  In my experience it's confusing as there are two
> > commonly used methods for doing this, the su command and sudo, and
> > they require different passwords.
> I have never seen the term used that way.
> I have seen su and sudo referred to as ways of a non-root id gaining 
> superuser priviledge/root priviledge but not a superuser as someone who 
> is not root, but has a method of gaining root priviledge.

Apparently I miscommunicated.  My point was that the OP's message used
the term "superuser" in an ambiguous way. (i.e. the way I mentioned).
To me, it wasn't clear what it was asking for, and thus sending the OP
to the PC-BSD community (where folks are probably familiar to the
GUI widget he's dealing with) seemed the best thing to do.

Erik Trulsson <ertr1013 at> wrote:
> On Wed, Mar 12, 2008 at 11:27:36AM -0400, Bill Moran wrote:
> > 
> > No.  The term "superuser" is a made-up term for any way of gaining
> > root privs.
> Wrong.  "superuser" is, just as the previous poster said, a synonym
> for "root", i.e. a user account with UID=0
> See for example
> or

Who am I to argue with wikipedia?  But the second link you provide
does not agree with your explanation.  According to The Jargon File,
my wmoran account is a superuser, because it's a member of the wheel

Thus, my argument that the term is ambiguous, which (based on the
links you provided) you seem to be backing up.

Alex Zbyslaw <xfb52 at> wrote:
> Hate to be picky, because I'd agree with most everything else you wrote, 
> but superuser, and its synonym super-user, do appear in many base man 
> pages, for example the su page shown below.  Sometimes it's a shortcut 
> for root (or other UID 0 user), like below in su, sometimes just for 
> effective UID 0 in general, for example as in mount(8).
> >      The su utility requests appropriate user credentials via PAM and 
> > switches
> >      to that user ID (the default user is the superuser).  A shell is then
> >      executed.

Mel <fbsd.questions at> wrote:
> In the kernel even!
> suser(9), suser_cred(9), vfs_suser(9)

OK, I was wrong on this point.

Alex Zbyslaw <xfb52 at> wrote:
> I'd contend that the su manpage *should* say root not superuser, since 
> root is hardwired as the default.  But for other cases, any user with 
> UID 0 might work just as well (e.g. toor).

I agree on this point, but not enough to bother trying to put a patch
together that (based on the conversation here) is likely to be

Bill Moran

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