What's difference between
gksudo is a GTK-based frontend of
kdesudo is a Qt-based frontend), however it (by default) handles more environmental variables(
XAUTHORITY, etc.) than
sudo thus making running commands as root safer.
As far as I can see only @Logics answer is correct enough (@Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams's is not complete). Here is the try-to-avoid clarification to @Davros @knitti answer/comments (Please kindly remove/edit them when it's not needed):
- Although both commands are indeed represents
sudo, the UI used is NOT the only difference of the two commands.
- Running GUI program is NOT the only situation when you should use gk/kdesudo, instead you should use gk/kdesudo whenever you can't determine whether the command will create/write files to your home directory (which the
HOMEenvironment variable points to in the
sudocommand in some system and situations). Not all GUI apps writes to your home directory and not all CLI apps don't, so the type of command isn't the key point.
- You still can use
sudocommand to launch GUI apps as root (for viewing apps' console output as an example), however you need to handle
HOME(and others such as
DISPLAY, input-method-related-stuff, etc.) environmental variables correctly so that the launched app won't fail, lose functionality or do really-bad stuff. The following is my current recommendation for using
sudo -H <rest of the command>
sudosection 8 manual page) The
-H ( HOME )option requests that the security policy set the
HOMEenvironment variable to the home directory of the target user (root by default) as specified by the password database. Depending on the policy, this may be the default behavior.
- This should at least prevent files being created in
sudocaller's home directory
sudo -H DISPLAY=<a working X display name, usually :0> <rest of a GUI program command>
- This should let <GUI program> executed in a TTY terminal and displayed in your desktop environment
- The behavior of the
sudocommand is not identical on all the systems and can be configured through
visudocommand, please check out
sudoers(5)manpage for more info.
Using regular sudo to run graphical programmes will on a rare occasion mess up permissions on some files. To be safe gksudo (or kdesudo as appropriate) should be used for running programmes with a GUI. I think this is a bug really, although I heard explanations that gksudo understands X server variables and sudo does not possibly leading to problems. Just as a tip; if you are running graphical programmes as root, instead of opening up one terminal for each programme you want to run, type ALT-F2 (alt and function key 2 at the same time), then type in the dialogue box that pops up "gksudo programme" without the quotes and programme replaced by the application you want to run.
sudo runs as the current user with elevated privileges. This has the potential of changing file permissions of certain user config files (relating to your graphical environment) when running graphical apps. You may find errors occurring when running these apps again without sudo.
gksudo (kdesudo under KDE) runs the apps as root user thus any file permissions touched are on root's files, not the users files. running these apps again without gksudo/kdesudo will always have the expected behavior.
The current answer is incorrect. According to the Ubuntu RootSudo wiki:
"You should never use normal sudo to start graphical applications as root. You should use gksudo (kdesudo on Kubuntu) to run such programs. gksudo sets HOME=~root, and copies .Xauthority to a tmp directory. This prevents files in your home directory becoming owned by root. (AFAICT, this is all that's special about the environment of the started process with gksudo vs. sudo)."