Change root username in Linux

 mpo -
Hi all
My question is:
Is there a way to change the user account name as a way for more security.
(i.e, I am a root on RedHat system and want to change my username <root> to another name say <diaa>)
Is that possible.
Waiting for a response!

9 replies

I can only advice not to change the root username. It can get you into many troubles if you don't know EXACTLY what you are doing.

The fact that you are asking the question on how to do it means you don't.
  • For one it will pretty much invalidate your crontab and vital scheduled system functions won't get executed.
  • Many other config files explicitly mention 'root' let alone some scripts will have hardcoded references to 'root'.

Yes all the other answers in this thread are correct. You CAN do it. But I advice you not to unless (I am repeating myself).
Thanks for the advice i don't change it
yes u can change

first of all system login by root
vim /etc/passwd
in this file first word root pls replace root in ur name or new root name
save the file
Registration date
Thursday May 15, 2008
Last seen
May 29, 2009
Yes it is possible,

Linux can be customize as you wish

Find below tips

The usermod command modifies the system account files to reflect the changes that are specified on the command line.

The options which apply to the usermod command are:

-a, --append
Add the user to the supplemental group(s). Use only with -G option.
-c, --comment COMMENT
The new value of the user's password file comment field. It is normally modified using the chfn(1) utility.
-d, --home HOME_DIR
The user's new login directory. If the -m option is given the contents of the current home directory will be moved to the new home directory, which is created if it does not already exist.
-e, --expiredate EXPIRE_DATE
The date on which the user account will be disabled. The date is specified in the format YYYY-MM-DD.
-f, --inactive INACTIVE
The number of days after a password expires until the account is permanently disabled. A value of 0 disables the account as soon as the password has expired, and a value of -1 disables the feature. The default value is -1.
-g, --gid GROUP
The group name or number of the user's new initial login group. The group name must exist. A group number must refer to an already existing group. The default group number is 1.
-G, --groups GROUP1[,GROUP2,...[,GROUPN]]]
A list of supplementary groups which the user is also a member of. Each group is separated from the next by a comma, with no intervening whitespace. The groups are subject to the same restrictions as the group given with the -g option. If the user is currently a member of a group which is not listed, the user will be removed from the group. This behaviour can be changed via -a option, which appends user to the current supplementary group list.
-l, --login NEW_LOGIN
The name of the user will be changed from LOGIN to NEW_LOGIN. Nothing else is changed. In particular, the user's home directory name should probably be changed to reflect the new login name.
-L, --lock
Lock a user's password. This puts a '!' in front of the encrypted password, effectively disabling the password. You can't use this option with -p or -U.
-o, --non-unique
When used with the -u option, this option allows to change the user ID to a non-unique value.
-p, --password PASSWORD
The encrypted password, as returned by crypt(3).
-s, --shell SHELL
The name of the user's new login shell. Setting this field to blank causes the system to select the default login shell.
-u, --uid UID
The numerical value of the user's ID. This value must be unique, unless the -o option is used. The value must be non-negative. Values between 0 and 999 are typically reserved for system accounts. Any files which the user owns and which are located in the directory tree rooted at the user's home directory will have the file user ID changed automatically. Files outside of the user's home directory must be altered manually.
-U, --unlock
Unlock a user's password. This removes the '!' in front of the encrypted password. You can't use this option with -p or -L.
-Z, --selinux-user SEUSER
The SELinux user for the user's login. The default is to leave this field blank, which causes the system to select the default SELinux user.
I appreciate your help
but I face error message as following:

~] #usermod -l newname root
usermod: can not lock password file
~] #

I'm working on RedHat 9, but I'm sure it's not the reason of this error message.
rather than the BIG trouble,that is this command will not be executed <as I read it online>
if the user named ( oldname ) is currently logged in.
I have to say that, I tried to change /etc/passwd permissions, but nothing changed, the error message still displayed.
waiting for reply.
> diaa
sudo passwd root
> agabaga
I don' want to change the root password !!
actually, this is the right answer:
~] #usermod -l <newname> <oldname>
in my case: I want to change the (system administrator account) from <root> to <diaa>, Thus:
~]#usermod -l diaa root
although it doesn't work on RedHat9, It works on RHEL4 !!
CLOSED.. and Thanks for all participant.
hello diaa,
I think I have the solution of your problem.
you just give the following command to change your root user name
sudo usermod -l <new name> root
i have just insert sudo before your last command .check it may be it will help you.
> sac
Hi. just dropped by this thread. I think if you are using a webserver, its a really good idea to change the root username to protect further from brute force attacks, if you have brute force protection switched on, then you will be less likely to be locked out using a non generic username.
you have to change the name on 3 files
Damn it! why da hell would you do that ?

What you are asking here is security by obscurity, this can't take you anywhere, if I was to brute-force you, I won't be kicking the root user or else I would be selling baby bottles in al'tahrir square ;)

Besides being statically defined in many script around *any* UNIX/Linux distribution, it might be as well hard coded into binaries since no one expect doing that.

If you really are insisting on doing it, as a start.. try..

for I in $(find /etc -type f | xargs grep -rH "\"root\"\|\'root\'\|\:root\:\|\ root\ " | cut -d : -f 1); do sed -i 's/root/l33t/g'

Trust me, you don't need to do it, I didn't even try it, this is dangerous and the above command is far away from ending safely, however it would take short time to code a script doing it properly...

Good luck :-)
yes plz go /etc/passwd in us <root> change then u add u want to
Don't change the root username on SUSE, you will lock yourself out of root: root will not take the new name and will be set to '0', and you will not be able to authenticate the user.
I executed the usermod -l new_name old_name in Debian
and it works - for now - I have to test the effects on other
processes that need 'root'.

I will try this also on other linux systems

I have read that it could increase security.. or it ruins your day

may the gods be with me :)

Registration date
Monday August 17, 2009
Last seen
October 23, 2009
hi every body I install the linux fedora in my system . by mistake the username root is changed in to the sroot . now I unable to login as a root . wat 2 do please help me out .

thanking u.