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Is there a way to have user privelages that would normally require superuser privelages, WITHOUT USING THE TERMINAL?

I'm thinking like a dialogue that pops up when your trying to access a folder/file that requires superuser permissions that says "This folder requires root privelages. Please enter your password if you are superuser." Then afterwards when I logout the privelages go back to normal.

EDIT: how to do something as root on my computer without using the terminal for every command, like asking me for a password or something.

On my mac I often used programs like "Alfred" or "Pathfinder" which were GUI's that allowed you to do "superuser" things without necessarily having to use the terminal and know the commands for everything. Or if I tried accessing a file above the local file-system a dialogue pops up asking a paassword. If "is there a program for ubuntu that does that kind of thing" is too vague or not the kind of question for this site, is there ANY way to do root things without permanently becoming the root user or defaulting to "sudo" with the terminal every single time you need to do something? I want to be able to do things on the root of my device like I would with local files, but in a semi-safe way. So if I wanted to change the permissions or copy/paste a file that had higher privelages than my local user was allowed maybe a dialogue would pop up asking for a password.

Example: I have a database or server I try to set up, but it wont connect because my privileges are too strict. However, because of my lack of programming knowledge I don't want to use the terminal. I've often resort to changing an entire folders and its files privileges to chmod -R 777 to allow me to do what I want, but then when I change them back I have no clue what to change it to because every inner file might have had different privelages, and I most likely just made all my stuff vulnerable to an attack or something. If not a GUI maybe a terminal command to temp change a folder to 777 and then when I'm done change it back to with what I'm working on change it back to what it was before (like a terminal command for undo.

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I believe this question is more suitable for stackoverflow.com –  Havenard Apr 8 '13 at 3:35
    
According to this site's FAQ, "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face"; so while it makes sense to ask if such a program exists for the operating system you're using, it seems strange to ask generally if there's "a GUI on ubuntu or any operating system". (Are you considering changing operating systems just for this feature?) –  ruakh Apr 8 '13 at 3:41
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@Havenard no, it doesn't –  Sathya Apr 8 '13 at 6:11
    
@ruakh So superuser is for any general computer questions? I assumed it had to do with being the actual superuser of your computer [link] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superuser) for doing things like "rooting" your phone or other operating system things that involved root privelages. –  bwillis Apr 10 '13 at 5:48
    
@rukah I just read over the FAQ and it's still not very clear. The first thing it says is it's for computer computer hardware or software questions and like you pointed out practical questions and not for programming or software development. As for your question I have switched back and forth between mac pc and Ubuntu so if there is software for either of these systems that allow easier control of the computers "superuser" privelages for novice users that don't want to use the terminal all the time. –  bwillis Apr 10 '13 at 5:49
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1 Answer

up vote 0 down vote accepted

I think the easiest way for you to achieve this is using

gksudo nautilus

You can either enter this in the Alt+F2 "Run command" window or create a custom launcher which does that.

To explain: the command will open a File Manager (nautilus is the default File Manager on Ubuntu) as "root" user, allowing you to change file permissions as you like.

With a little scripting you can also add this to the right-click menu in Nautilus.

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Thanks this is an amazing answer. Just discovered "yad" which lets you create custom gui's for running command scripts, but your answer is definitely what I was looking for! –  bwillis Apr 10 '13 at 6:39
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