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I am having some strange issue with Kate and Kwrite. When I click on Open File, it crashes with segmentation fault.

I am a complete newbie to Linux, and I think the issue is that I am not running the application as root.

How do I run applications as root in Ubuntu? Is it bad practice to do this? What is the purpose of the whole root thing, where even though we need to use root so frequently, it is not utilized as default?

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You can do some very damaging things when using root to open an editor so please do not go that way ;) 2 other solutions that do not require root: try and fix the segmentation fault or use another editor (gedit is gnome's editor). kate en kwrite are KDE program (so not Gnome). –  Rinzwind Oct 28 '12 at 6:46
    
what damaging things can be done w text editor.sounds crazy –  Yuck Oct 29 '12 at 3:05
    
@АртёмЦарионов For one thing, as root you can edit files your computer uses to start up the operating system or load your graphical environment, effectively breaking your computer. –  Amanda Feb 24 at 15:23
    
ahahhaah your picture is so weird!! –  Yuck Feb 26 at 18:01

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

UNIX-like operating systems (including Linux) use a concept called privilege separation to ensure that the system stays safe. UNIX was designed as a multi-user system from the ground up - that is, it was designed so that many people could use one computer running UNIX at once. Since most users don't need to be able to modify the core system. Only the system administrator should have that privilege, and that user is traditionally called root. (Root is a lot like Administrator in Windows.)

This makes sense on several levels. Commonly, a web server or other process that exposes a port to other (possibly malicious) computers will run as its own user (Apache runs as the user nobody), so that even if the web server program is hacked, the attacker can't trash the entire machine quite so easily. It even makes sense for mostly single-user machines such as desktops: if other members of your family, for example, somehow manage to run rm -rf / (do NOT run that), they won't have permission to delete every file on the system, like they would if there were no such thing as privilege separation.

The sudo command exists to temporarily give you root-level privileges when you need them to administer the system. The root user can do anything on a system, with almost no exceptions. So even if you request something by accident, it will be carried out with little or no warning, even if it's bad for the health of your system. This is why it's good practice to do most of your activities as a normal user, and use root only when needed, like when you're installing a program.

You shouldn't need to use root to get rid of a segmentation fault. If root is the only thing that fixes a segfault, then the program has a bug. Programs should not fail like that just because they don't have root.

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It is pretty simple to run a program as root.

For a console program use

sudo <program name>

If it is a GUI application use

gksudo <program name>
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In addition to the previous answer, which says about sudo and gksudo, yes, it is definitely a bad practice to run a program as root unless this is an administrative one.

Please try to find you why the programs are crashing. Please seek help of others if you need to.

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