Linux.com: The power of root

People who have never used a true multiuser operating
system before sometimes become confused about the function of the
“root” user in Linux. It can be unclear what is so special about
this particular user and why it is important that “root” should be
handled differently than any other user on the system.

“To understand what the “root” user is all about, we first need
to understand the concept of “privilege”. In most Microsoft
operating systems, such as Windows 9x, the user sitting at the PC
can do anything they wish to do with the system. With a click of a
mouse, the user can choose to install new software, reformat the
hard drive, or unknowingly entertain the latest boot-sector virus.
Such a user is fully “privileged”. They have total control of the
system — for better or worse.”

“In Linux, most users do not have such privileges. In fact, most
users need no such privileges to do their work. What do most users
need to do? They need to run programs. They need to save their
documents and data. Under Linux, users can perform these functions,
but they are not able to modify the program executables themselves.
Neither are they allowed to tamper with the files that belong to
other users without the owner’s permission. They are “unprivileged”