Where does the term superuser come from?

Where does the term "superuser" come from?

Where does the term "superuser" come from?

With su you can become a super user with all kinds of amazing powers.

From the First Edition Unix su man page:

Source minnie.tuhs.org/UnixTree/V5/usr/source/s2/su.c.html

Used on Unix systems to change the user and is typically used to run commands as the root user.

And ... read on

I had another foundation moment meaning "su". I found old Unix source code where su.c was available. I looked curiously at the source. What did i find

What's the first comment in this C file?

was written to change only the root user on the system. It is not designed to switch to another user who has an account. "su" means "super user". I have to sit down for a second.

The above code is from the fifth edition of Unix by Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson. If you know your Unix history, it really didn't start until the sixth edition for the Unix world. So it's safe to say that most, if not all, of the code in the fifth and earlier editions was written by Dennis and Ken themselves. The fifth edition of Unix was released in 1975, so it doesn't get much more authoritarian.

Source Aaron Toponce: The Meaning of 'su'


continue reading