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Why don't I have permissions to change core system files

401 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Feb 8, 2012 7:22 AM by KNicklow RSS
KNicklow Calculating status...
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Feb 8, 2012 5:53 AM

This is an issue I keep having and it doesn't make sense. It seems like all the substantial configuration files require some "other" form of access. I'm using the administrator account I created in setup, so I wasn't aware that another level of power users existed.




Mac OS X (10.7)
  • Ralph Landry1 Level 7 Level 7 (28,695 points)

    There is another level called root but that account is normally not active on Mac OS X as shipped.  You have to take action to activate the account.  That is for the safety of the operating system.  Root has ownership of every file on the computer and can do significant damage.  You can find out how to activate root from a Lion manual such as the Missing Manual, but if you feel you must function as root be very careful, you will not be asked if you really want to do something such as delete...the system assumes you know what you are doing as root.

  • Ralph Landry1 Level 7 Level 7 (28,695 points)

    Ok, since you will find this anyway go to this knowledge base article  And do further searches using the search window in the upper right corner next to Support, on enable root.


    Read the material carefully, I am not trying to be obstructionist, just very sensitive about people using root because it is so powerful.  I have been using Unix since the late 80s and learned the hard way how much damage root can do if you are not extremely careful.  So please use caution and look at the commands you give twice before clicking return.


    You might also open and keep on the dock the Terminal...from applications, or it may be in utilities now...that will let you work at command level with the system..

  • Ralph Landry1 Level 7 Level 7 (28,695 points)

    KNicklow wrote:


    Wait wait... I got it.

    So glad to have been able to help


    Since you are an experienced admin, you should do well working as root...and Terminal is a great tool.


    Might also want to keep a Console window open for debugging to see the system level processes that start and stop, you can see where things hang.

  • Michael Black Level 6 Level 6 (17,835 points)

    For what it is worth, I've never enabled root in the GUI on any OS X machine I've administrated.  Anytime I need root, I just use terminal - "sudo su-", enter your admin password when prompted and you will start a terminal login session as root.  Then just work as root in terminal, exit when done, and you never need enable a root GUI login.


    plist files are easily edited in a command line editor, or use Xwindows and a X-graphical editor like Nedit.


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