Linux Tip: Replacing GKSUDO for CENTOS users

One of the annoying things about maintaining CENTOS installations is performing system maintenance as the super user from the command line. Don’t get me wrong but I was programming before graphical interfaces(BGI). The command line is a good and trusty way to perform maintenance. As long as everything works you can get by with a minimum of memorization. Since most of us live in an after graphical interfaces(AGI) world and we do not practice our Linux command line knowledge on a daily basis, we quickly get rusty on the tricks of the trade and yearn for an easier way. Something with a fast learning curve. This is precisely why we have graphical interfaces.

For reasons I did not understand until today CENTOS does not make it easy to run graphical programs as the super user, such as nautilius and gedit. Ubuntu offers a fairly simple way to create menu items to start graphical programs as a super user, gksudo.  CENTOS does not offer this utility in either Version 4 or 5. A similar utility, kdesu, was offered in CENTOS Version 4 but is not offered in CENTOS 5. Opening a terminal window and running SUDO is an pretty clumsy option so I was pretty sure that there probably was a better way! I wanted a menu item like the other system maintenance menu items that would authenticate me before running an application as a super user.

Today I found the answer. Matt Hansen wrote a tip how to “How to run a program from GNOME menu with root privileges ” back in 2004. The tip uses a utility called consolehelper. You have to create a couple of configuration files but the whole process can be completed in about five minutes. It is interesting that today was the first time I found a reference that claims consolehelper is the “proper” way to solve the “missing” gksudo problem.