In this answer that I helped in reformatting, you can see reference to privilege gained by using sudo, gksu, etc are referred to by administrator privileges (by me) and superuser privileges (by author). What is the proper reference to the privileges?

IMO, I don't think it should be root privileges because, even using sudo, there are some restrictions. And superuser sounds improper and does not give a real meaning, being one of the terms .

Please share your opinion on the matter.

2 Answers 2


Superuser is the proper term.

When talking about Linux systems, Administrator often means a normal user that may gain superuser privileges via su or sudo (super user do). You can also call it root privileges if you want to be entirely unambiguous, as sudo give the admin 'privileges like root'.

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    su stands for Switch User, whereas sudo stands for Switch User & Do it just so happens that the default user to switch to is 0 You can sudo as a user other than root with sudo -u [uid] [command] Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 1:25
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    You mean id 0 (the root account). If [uid] is a number, you need to prefix it with a dash. Should the command start with a -, you'd better put -- before it to make sure that sudo it not interpreting it as an option (useful for user-supplied commands). Example: sudo -u#1001 -- whoami (with no whitespace between -u and #)
    – Lekensteyn
    Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 10:14
  • Where did you learn about "switch user"? I find many different opinions as to the 'official' acronym (of the old "su" that is) on the internets. My source is a Unix book from the early nineties Commented Jun 19, 2011 at 15:36
  • The man page. Both are correct - I don't think there is a set Acronym for su/sudo. Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 11:36

The privileges gained with su or sudo are called properly called root privileges. That's the definition of what these commands do, in fact: execute a command as root.

Superuser is an informal synonym of root user. Administrator generally refers to a physical user who is legitimately able to gain root privileges.

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