I need to install Symantec Antivirus for Linux on my computer.

According to its README file, it says:

Debian and Ubuntu users should use sudo

For installation and when you execute Symantec AntiVirus for Linux commands, Debian and Ubuntu users should use sudo. Do NOT su to root for these actions. In addition, ensure that the user who is running the command is in the sudoers list.

Question #1: How do I avoid su-ing to root?

I'm new to Linux and Ubuntu.

During the installation process, I entered the following details:

Name: Sharon

Account name: Sharon

I notice that whenever I open up a terminal window, it says:


Question #2: Is sharon@sharon:~$ root?

PS: I am very new to Linux and Ubuntu; please excuse me if my questions seem elementary.

  • 4
    No, sharon isn't root. You can tell if a shell is root or not in the default config by the last character. $ indicates a normal shell, while # indicates you're running as root. (but as noted in the answers, it's not recommended to be running a root shell) – Powerlord Dec 22 '12 at 20:29
  • @ Powerlord: Thanks for your reply. How do I invoke/launch the default config file? And what do you mean by "shell"? – n00b Dec 22 '12 at 21:09
  • Shell is software that provides interface for OS users to access the kernel services. GNU/Linux terminal is CLI (Command Line Interface) shell. – user45853 Feb 10 '13 at 16:45
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    @ZDroid Terminals and shells are not at all the same thing. A terminal allows a user to interact with a command-line program, which may or not be a shell. And most shell instances are launched behind the scenes to run scripts, and never have any associated terminal. – Eliah Kagan Feb 16 '13 at 3:19
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    With Terminal you can acess kernel services. ;) – user45853 Feb 16 '13 at 9:05

1) What do you mean by that? sudo gains the account a temporary root privileges. Some applications will need these privileges and you will need to sudo. If however you don't want to type sudo all the time, then type sudo su BUT THAT'S NOT RECOMMENDED.

2) No.

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  • Thanks Melon for your reply. You asked: "What do you mean by that?" Well, I don't know because that is what the readme file of Symantec Antivirus for Linux says. As for your reply to my Question #2, if sharon@sharon:~$ is not root, then how do I go into root or switch to root? – n00b Dec 22 '12 at 20:20
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    You change to a root for a moment to run a command with sudo insert_command_here. If you want it permanent: sudo su BUT THAT'S NOT RECOMMENDED – Melon Dec 22 '12 at 20:28
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    Why sudo su? Try sudo -i or if you feel brave sudo bash. No need to involve su at all. – a CVn Dec 22 '12 at 22:56

Just use 'sudo' before the commands. This only assumes root privileges for that command and is the safe way of doing it. What they are saying is do NOT do somthing that will assume root privileges on a more permanent basis (such using 'su' or 'bash' with sudo)

sharon@sharon is your user name, which will be an administrative user, on the computer sharon. You've give the computer the same name as your user. If you want to change the computer name have a look at this question and it's main answer. Most of us use a descriptive name like, office, laptop, or you can follow the geeky convention of giving it a SF name: spock, kirk, picard etc.

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  • @ fabricator4: Thanks a lot for the info. I learned something new every time I'm on this forum. This forum rocks! – n00b Dec 22 '12 at 21:11

If you have downloaded the .deb file from Symantec, double clicking on the file will open Ubuntu Software Center and you will see a button to install the software. Once you click install, it will ask you for your password and then install the software.

If the above procedure does not work, you will need to use the terminal and type in the command in the readme file.

For example the readme file may tell you to type

dpkg -i *.i386.deb

as root. Linux has a special user called root, but in some distributions, like Ubuntu, it is disabled by default. To do something as root, when it is enabled, you have to first type suEnter, then enter root's password. Then you get the root prompt:


. Once you get the root prompt you enter the command. However, this is not for Ubuntu.

For Ubuntu

You add sudo to the front of the command you want to use as root. You do not (cannot) use the su command first and then use the command you want. So you type:

sharon@sharon:~$ sudo dpkg -i *i386.deb

This is the same command as above but with sudo in front. Once you type a command with sudo in front, the computer will ask for your password. The cursor will not move when you type the password. It will look like nothing is happening at the terminal. This is normal. Enter the password and hit Enter.

Then the computer will execute the commad that you typed after sudo as if you are the root. Thus, even if you are not root, you get temporary power of the root by using the sudo command. In Ubuntu the root account is disabled by default for security. The only way to act as the root is to use the sudo command. This default can be changed, but that is not recommended.

Hope this helps

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  • 2
    In most (all?) distributions there is a special user called root. Ubuntu almost certainly has it by default, too. However, it's disabled by default because actually logging in as root is an easy road to breakage unless you really know what you are doing. – a CVn Dec 22 '12 at 22:50
  • @ user68186: Thanks for the explanation. – n00b Dec 24 '12 at 10:54

1) sudo gives root privilegies temporary (for command than you type after sudo), like you say: "su, do it!" su is for logging into someone's else account, like root's. Just run sudo su and you will have root privilegies. Ubuntu doesn't configure su's password, but you can configure it with sudo su passwd. It's best to use sudo for begginers.

2) No, it isn't. You can find two simbols (after any1@hostname) — $ (normal user) and # (root). If you are user, you will see sharon@sharon:~$, if you are root, you will see root@sharon:~# in your terminal.
1st part of any1@hostname (any1) is name of user. 2nd part (hostname) is name of your machine, sometimes called hostname (your machine is host, name is hostname). Tilda (~) is symbol for user's directory.

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