How to Give Standard Users Admin (Root) Rights on Ubuntu 16.04 | 18.04

This brief tutorial shows students and new users how to give standard user administrative rights or privileges to make changes to Ubuntu systems… If you want a standard user to make changes in Ubuntu, you’ll want to give them administrative privileges…

In Ubuntu, you can change which users have administrative privileges and which ones do not… Users who have admin rights or are member of the sudo system tool can make global changes to Ubuntu, including deleting critical files and other user accounts on the system..

A good way to keep your system secure from authorized changes is to limit some user accounts types to standard… which may keep them from making potentially damaging changes to your system..To get started with changing user account types in Ubuntu, follow the steps below:

Option 1: Changing Ubuntu Account Types on the Desktop

There are multiple ways one can change Ubuntu account types… Most desktop users will use the graphical user interface (GUI) to make account changes..

You need administrator privileges to change account types… The first user account on the system is usually the one that has administrator privileges… This is the user account that was created when you first installed the system.

To change account types via the desktop, follow the steps below:

  • Open the Activities overview and start typing Users.
  • Click Users to open the panel.
  • Press Unlock in the top right corner and type in your password when prompted.
  • Select the user whose privileges you want to change.
  • Click the label Standard next to Account Type and select Administrator.
  • The user’s privileges will be changed when they next log in.

You can also select System setting from the top right corner of the menu….

ubuntu dns change

Then navigate to Details –> Users panel…  Press Unlock in the top right corner and type in your password when prompted.

Ubuntu user panel

Now you can select the user account and change the type to Administrator as shown below:

Exit and the account privileges will change the next time the user logs on…

Option #2: Changing User Account Type via Command line

If you prefer the command line or on a server environment, you can use the command line below to make give an account administrative rights or privileges…

Linux, including Ubuntu has a tool called sudo.. which allows users to run programs with administrative rights…

By default on Ubuntu systems, members of the sudo group are granted with sudo access… If you want a standard account to run commands or programs with admin rights, make them a member of the sudo group…

To make janedoe standard member of the sudo group, run the commands below:

sudo usermod -aG sudo janedoe

The next time Jane Doe logs in, that account will have sudo privileges granted…

To validate, run the commands below to switch to janedoe account…

su - janedoe

Then run whoami command to see what the user account type is…

sudo whoami

The output should be:

root

That’s it!

Congratulations! You have successfully learned how to change account types in Ubuntu via the GUI and command line…

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