`su': Run a command with substitute user and group id ===================================================== `su' allows one user to temporarily become another user. It runs a command (often an interactive shell) with the real and effective user id, group id, and supplemental groups of a given USER. Synopsis: su [OPTION]... [USER [ARG]...] If no USER is given, the default is `root', the super-user. The shell to use is taken from USER's `passwd' entry, or `/bin/sh' if none is specified there. If USER has a password, `su' prompts for the password unless run by a user with effective user id of zero (the super-user). By default, `su' does not change the current directory. It sets the environment variables `HOME' and `SHELL' from the password entry for USER, and if USER is not the super-user, sets `USER' and `LOGNAME' to USER. By default, the shell is not a login shell. Any additional ARGs are passed as additional arguments to the shell. GNU `su' does not treat `/bin/sh' or any other shells specially (e.g., by setting `argv' to `-su', passing `-c' only to certain shells, etc.). `su' can optionally be compiled to use `syslog' to report failed, and optionally successful, `su' attempts. (If the system supports `syslog'.) However, GNU `su' does not check if the user is a member of the `wheel' group; see below. The program accepts the following options. Also see Note: Common options. `-c COMMAND' `--command=COMMAND' Pass COMMAND, a single command line to run, to the shell with a `-c' option instead of starting an interactive shell. `-f' `--fast' Pass the `-f' option to the shell. This probably only makes sense if the shell run is `csh' or `tcsh', for which the `-f' option prevents reading the startup file (`.cshrc'). With Bourne-like shells, the `-f' option disables file name pattern expansion (globbing), which is not likely to be useful. `-' `-l' `--login' Make the shell a login shell. This means the following. Unset all environment variables except `TERM', `HOME', and `SHELL' (which are set as described above), and `USER' and `LOGNAME' (which are set, even for the super-user, as described above), and set `PATH' to a compiled-in default value. Change to USER's home directory. Prepend `-' to the shell's name, intended to make it read its login startup file(s). `-m' `-p' `--preserve-environment' Do not change the environment variables `HOME', `USER', `LOGNAME', or `SHELL'. Run the shell given in the environment variable `SHELL' instead of the shell from USER's passwd entry, unless the user running `su' is not the superuser and USER's shell is restricted. A "restricted shell" is one that is not listed in the file `/etc/shells', or in a compiled-in list if that file does not exist. Parts of what this option does can be overridden by `--login' and `--shell'. `-s SHELL' `--shell=SHELL' Run SHELL instead of the shell from USER's passwd entry, unless the user running `su' is not the superuser and USER's shell is restricted (see `-m' just above). Why GNU `su' does not support the `wheel' group =============================================== (This section is by Richard Stallman.) Sometimes a few of the users try to hold total power over all the rest. For example, in 1984, a few users at the MIT AI lab decided to seize power by changing the operator password on the Twenex system and keeping it secret from everyone else. (I was able to thwart this coup and give power back to the users by patching the kernel, but I wouldn't know how to do that in Unix.) However, occasionally the rulers do tell someone. Under the usual `su' mechanism, once someone learns the root password who sympathizes with the ordinary users, he or she can tell the rest. The "wheel group" feature would make this impossible, and thus cement the power of the rulers. I'm on the side of the masses, not that of the rulers. If you are used to supporting the bosses and sysadmins in whatever they do, you might find this idea strange at first.
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