How to Change the Ubuntu Root Password: What You Need to Know

Are you new to Ubuntu? You might have stumbled upon the term “root password” and wondered what it’s all about. This guide will break it down, explaining why Ubuntu handles root access differently, how to perform administrative tasks, and the importance of security best practices.

It’s important to know that in Ubuntu, a root account has never been enabled by default. This design decision was made for security reasons because it reduces the risk of unauthorized access and accidental damage caused by using the all-powerful root account unnecessarily.

Understanding Root in Ubuntu

  • What is Root?
    The root user in Ubuntu (and Linux generally) is like the administrator or superuser account. It has unrestricted privileges to modify the system.
  • Why No Default Root Password?
    Ubuntu doesn’t have a default root password by design. This is a deliberate security measure to prevent unauthorized access and accidental damage.
  • Introducing sudo:
    Instead of logging in as root, Ubuntu uses the sudo Command (short for “superuser do”). This allows regular users to temporarily elevate their privileges to perform administrative tasks by entering their own password.

How to Perform Administrative Tasks

  1. Using sudo:
    • Open a terminal.
    • Type sudo Followed by the command you want to run (e.g., sudo apt update).
    • Enter your user password when prompted.~
  2. Becoming Root (Not Recommended):
    • While possible, it’s discouraged to directly log in as root or use the su Command to switch to root. This is considered less secure due to the risk of irreversible mistakes.

  • The behavior of sudo is controlled by the /etc/sudoers file or through LDAP. This file defines which users can run which commands with sudo.
  • Sudo logs each command execution, providing a record of who did what and when.
  • By default, sudo prompts for the user’s password to verify their identity before executing a command.
  • Sudo has a default timeout of 15 minutes. After this time, the user needs to re-enter their password to run another command with sudo.

Changing the Root Password (Caution!)

  • Why Change It?
    You might need to change the root password in specific scenarios, like setting up remote server management or troubleshooting.
  • How to Change:
    Use sudo passwd root in the terminal.
    Follow the prompts to enter a new, strong password.

Security Best Practices

  • Strong Passwords:
    Choose a unique, complex password for your user account. This is your primary defence.
  • Limit sudo Users:
    Don’t give sudo access to users who don’t need it.
  • Stay Updated:
    Regularly update Ubuntu to patch security vulnerabilities.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  • Permission Denied:
    If you encounter a ‘permission denied’ error, you probably haven’t used sudo before the command.
  • Forgot Password?
    You can reset your user password if you forget it. Search for “reset Ubuntu password” for instructions specific to your version.


Understanding the root concept in Ubuntu is key to managing your system effectively and securely. By using sudo responsibly, choosing strong passwords, and staying informed, you’ll keep your Ubuntu installation in top shape.

Additional Tips:

  • You can add the -i flag to sudo to start an interactive root shell session.
  • The /etc/sudoers file controls which users can use sudo.

Elsewhere On TurboGeek:  Secure Shell (SSH) Connection via Port 22


Richard Bailey, a seasoned tech enthusiast, combines a passion for innovation with a knack for simplifying complex concepts. With over a decade in the industry, he's pioneered transformative solutions, blending creativity with technical prowess. An avid writer, Richard's articles resonate with readers, offering insightful perspectives that bridge the gap between technology and everyday life. His commitment to excellence and tireless pursuit of knowledge continues to inspire and shape the tech landscape.

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