Ask Dave Taylor: Tech and Business


How do I enable root login with ssh?

Dave, I've been using ssh like a good Internet citizen to connect to my remote server, but for security reasons the ISP has disabled root login from ssh on every server. Problem is, I really need to be able to log in as root occasionally. How do I re-enable it?

First off, are you absolutely sure this is something that you really want to do? Remember, you should have a regular user account already, and it's only a few extra keystrokes to ssh to your account, then use su or sudo to become root for specific tasks. That's what I do, and that's what I recommend too.

Further, you already know that you should have a really weird, impossible-to-break or guess root password, right? One tip: most Unixes let you have arbitrarily long passwords, so don't hesitate to do something that's more than the usual 6-8 characters, and, really, add some punctuation and mixed upper/lower case letters, at a minimum.

For example, my root password is...