The staff's "policy" or stance on this is IMO misunderstood by forum users.
This policy exists due to the number of new users of Ubuntu on these forms. This is a "Forums policy" and should not be misconstrued as an "Ubuntu policy" or as the one and only method of system administration.
The goal is to educate new users.
Our "line in the sand" is with tutorials or posts that show people how to LOG IN to a graphical desktop (gnome, KDE, etc) as root. This is completely inappropriate and unnecessary.
In terms of the root account, there are times when one needs to activate or set a root password. At such times setting a root password is acceptable.
The primary consideration is simply that we have a large influx of new users on these forums.
Please refer new users to the RootSudo wiki page. After reading the wiki page users will have gained the requisite knowledge and may decide for themselves how to manage their systems. This is the whole point of the policy, educate users and allow them to decide for themselves.
On the forums, however, in the past, before this "policy", all too often people would simply instruct new users to set a root password to "fix" their problems. This was done without explaining (not intended as an exhaustive list):
1. The potential risks of setting a root PW.
2. How to lock the root account.
3. The nature of the problem and the preferred solution, ie linux permissions, fstab, etc.
4. Setting a root PW can (or has in the past) caused new problems.
Thus the intent of the policy is we prefer if people educate new users re: permissions, etc, etc, rather then simply instruct them to set a root pw.
The preferred method of obtaining a root shell is :
See : This post by unutbu for details.Code:sudo -i
The preferred method of running graphical applications is gksu or kdesu. This is because, traditionally, gksu / kdesu, in addition to allowing root access, addresses the additional X (graphical) security better then su / sudo. For instance - to run the default file managers as default
Unity / Gnome :
Xubuntu :Code:gksu nautilus
Lubuntu :Code:gksu thunar
For KDE use kdesu (with either konqueror or dolphin):Code:gksu pcmanfm
If you wish to instruct people to set a root password please include, at a minimum, the nature of the problem at hand (permissions) and information on how to lock the root account again.Code:kdesu konqueror|dolphin
See also : http://live.gnome.org/gksu
Additional discussion staff input is located here (this is a link to the "old" sticky by aysiu).