ArchLinux - disabling root

2016, Feb 08    

If you followed the previous article of the series about setting up Arch Linux, you should now be at the point where you have a base Linux system.

In this post I will focus on the creation of a user account, installing and setting up sudo and disabling the root account. You can find detailed information by following this link.

Creating a user

Following the reboot of your ArchLinux installation you will be asked to connect. Use root and the password you set up in the previous article.

We are going to create a new account and add it to the ‘wheel’ group by default. The group wheel is a group that allows you to run some restricted commands from that user. As I want this account to be an advanced power user, this is the group I want to be part of.

useradd -m -g wheel [account name]
passd [account name]

Installing and setting Sudo

The next step is to install and set up sudo to allow the wheel group to run commands in elevated mode. ‘sudo’ stands for ‘Superuser Do’ and will allow us to continue the installation without using the root account.

Installing sudo

pacman -S sudo

Setting sudo

We have to edit the sudo configuration file to grant the permission. Editing the sudo configuration needs to to be done using visudo. This ensures when we are saving the file that it is valid and wont lock us.


We are at that point in our favorite text editor, VI :-). I hope you remember your basics here. The only keys you will need are

  • i : insert
  • esc : exit the edit mode
  • :wq : save and quit

At the end of the file you will see a section that contains a lot of commented lines (starting with #) which represent some templates. We want to add there the following lines which will allow members of the wheel group to execute any command.

%wheel ALL=(ALL) ALL

Follow this link if you want to read more about sudo.

Disable root

Disabling the root account is not mandatory, but is strongly recommended as everyone knows the root account on Linux.

  • Disconnect from the current root session
  • Connect with your user account
  • Disable root The best way to disable the root account is to lock it. For that run the following command.
sudo passwd -l root


This was a simple article that allows you to secure your base installation in the most basic way. In the next article we will look at how to set up some of the basic services and start to install some basic applications.