Mastering User Switching on Linux: A Comprehensive Guide

Managing multiple user accounts on your Linux system can be a breeze with the right know-how. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of switching between user accounts swiftly and securely, providing you with all the essential tips you need.

Understanding Linux User Account Types

Before diving into user switching, it’s important to grasp the various account types Linux offers. Typically, there are three: a personal user account requiring credentials for login, the root account with full system control, and system accounts used by background services.

Effortless User Switching with the “su” Command

The ‘su’ command is the classic method to change users in the Linux terminal. To switch to a different user profile, execute:

$ su [username]

For instance, switching to the user ‘John’ requires the command:

$ su john


[john@localhost user ~]$

To simulate a full login with the user’s environment variables, you can append a hyphen:

$ su – john


[john@localhost ~]$

Switching Users with “sudo”: The Power User’s Tool

Power users may prefer ‘sudo’ for user switching, especially for users with sudo privileges. To switch users, use:

$ sudo -i -u [username]

Running a specific command as another user is equally straightforward:

$ sudo -u [username] [command]

Seamlessly Transitioning to the Root Account

To ascend to the root account with all its privileges, simply invoke ‘su’ with no arguments:

$ su

Password: [root password]

[root@localhost ~]#

Graphical User Swap with the GNOME Interface

For those preferring a graphical interface, the GNOME desktop environment offers a user-friendly way to switch accounts. Click on the power symbol at the top right, then your username, and choose “Switch User.” You will be taken to a lock screen to login with another account.


Switching users on Linux can be an efficient process with the right commands and steps. Our guide aims to provide you with a clear path for managing multiple accounts, enhancing your Linux experience. Should you require further assistance, our support forum is ready to help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: What is the difference between ‘su’ and ‘su -‘ commands?

A: Using ‘su’ switches to another user but retains the current shell’s environment, while ‘su -‘ also changes the environment to that of the target user.

Q: Can ‘sudo’ be used to run a graphical application as another user?

A: Yes, ‘sudo’ can launch graphical apps under another user by prepending ‘sudo -u [username]’ to the application’s run command. However, you may need to configure X11 permissions.

Q: Is the root account’s universal access a security risk?

A: While the root account is powerful and unchecked use can pose risks, responsible management and using ‘sudo’ for elevated tasks usually keeps the system safe.

Q: How do I switch users if I don’t use GNOME?

A: Other desktop environments have similar options; look for a user or power icon near the system tray to find user-switching features.

Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
The Bollyinside editorial staff is made up of tech experts with more than 10 years of experience Led by Sumit Chauhan. We started in 2014 and now Bollyinside is a leading tech resource, offering everything from product reviews and tech guides to marketing tips. Think of us as your go-to tech encyclopedia!


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