Provided by: util-linux_2.37.2-4ubuntu3_amd64 bug


       su - run a command with substitute user and group ID


       su [options] [-] [user [argument...]]


       su allows commands to be run with a substitute user and group ID.

       When called with no user specified, su defaults to running an interactive shell as root.
       When user is specified, additional arguments can be supplied, in which case they are
       passed to the shell.

       For backward compatibility, su defaults to not change the current directory and to only
       set the environment variables HOME and SHELL (plus USER and LOGNAME if the target user is
       not root). It is recommended to always use the --login option (instead of its shortcut -)
       to avoid side effects caused by mixing environments.

       This version of su uses PAM for authentication, account and session management. Some
       configuration options found in other su implementations, such as support for a wheel
       group, have to be configured via PAM.

       su is mostly designed for unprivileged users, the recommended solution for privileged
       users (e.g., scripts executed by root) is to use non-set-user-ID command runuser(1) that
       does not require authentication and provides separate PAM configuration. If the PAM
       session is not required at all then the recommended solution is to use command setpriv(1).

       Note that su in all cases uses PAM (pam_getenvlist(3)) to do the final environment
       modification. Command-line options such as --login and --preserve-environment affect the
       environment before it is modified by PAM.


       -c, --command=command
           Pass command to the shell with the -c option.

       -f, --fast
           Pass -f to the shell, which may or may not be useful, depending on the shell.

       -g, --group=group
           Specify the primary group. This option is available to the root user only.

       -G, --supp-group=group
           Specify a supplementary group. This option is available to the root user only. The
           first specified supplementary group is also used as a primary group if the option
           --group is not specified.

       -, -l, --login
           Start the shell as a login shell with an environment similar to a real login:

           •   clears all the environment variables except TERM and variables specified by

           •   initializes the environment variables HOME, SHELL, USER, LOGNAME, and PATH

           •   changes to the target user’s home directory

           •   sets argv[0] of the shell to '-' in order to make the shell a login shell

       -m, -p, --preserve-environment
           Preserve the entire environment, i.e., do not set HOME, SHELL, USER or LOGNAME. This
           option is ignored if the option --login is specified.

       -P, --pty
           Create a pseudo-terminal for the session. The independent terminal provides better
           security as the user does not share a terminal with the original session. This can be
           used to avoid TIOCSTI ioctl terminal injection and other security attacks against
           terminal file descriptors. The entire session can also be moved to the background
           (e.g., "su --pty - username -c application &"). If the pseudo-terminal is enabled,
           then su works as a proxy between the sessions (copy stdin and stdout).

           This feature is mostly designed for interactive sessions. If the standard input is not
           a terminal, but for example a pipe (e.g., echo "date" | su --pty), then the ECHO flag
           for the pseudo-terminal is disabled to avoid messy output.

       -s, --shell=shell
           Run the specified shell instead of the default. The shell to run is selected according
           to the following rules, in order:

           •   the shell specified with --shell

           •   the shell specified in the environment variable SHELL, if the
               --preserve-environment option is used

           •   the shell listed in the passwd entry of the target user

           •   /bin/sh

       If the target user has a restricted shell (i.e., not listed in /etc/shells), the --shell
       option and the SHELL environment variables are ignored unless the calling user is root.

           Same as -c, but do not create a new session. (Discouraged.)

       -w, --whitelist-environment=list
           Don’t reset the environment variables specified in the comma-separated list when
           clearing the environment for --login. The whitelist is ignored for the environment
           variables HOME, SHELL, USER, LOGNAME, and PATH.

       -V, --version
           Display version information and exit.

       -h, --help
           Display help text and exit.


       Upon receiving either SIGINT, SIGQUIT or SIGTERM, su terminates its child and afterwards
       terminates itself with the received signal. The child is terminated by SIGTERM, after
       unsuccessful attempt and 2 seconds of delay the child is killed by SIGKILL.


       su reads the /etc/default/su and /etc/login.defs configuration files. The following
       configuration items are relevant for su:

       FAIL_DELAY (number)
           Delay in seconds in case of an authentication failure. The number must be a
           non-negative integer.

       ENV_PATH (string)
           Defines the PATH environment variable for a regular user. The default value is

       ENV_ROOTPATH (string), ENV_SUPATH (string)
           Defines the PATH environment variable for root. ENV_SUPATH takes precedence. The
           default value is /usr/local/sbin:/usr/local/bin:/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin.

       ALWAYS_SET_PATH (boolean)
           If set to yes and --login and --preserve-environment were not specified su initializes

           The environment variable PATH may be different on systems where /bin and /sbin are
           merged into /usr; this variable is also affected by the --login command-line option
           and the PAM system setting (e.g., pam_env(8)).


       su normally returns the exit status of the command it executed. If the command was killed
       by a signal, su returns the number of the signal plus 128.

       Exit status generated by su itself:

           Generic error before executing the requested command

           The requested command could not be executed

           The requested command was not found


           default PAM configuration file

           PAM configuration file if --login is specified

           command specific logindef config file

           global logindef config file


       For security reasons, su always logs failed log-in attempts to the btmp file, but it does
       not write to the lastlog file at all. This solution can be used to control su behavior by
       PAM configuration. If you want to use the pam_lastlog(8) module to print warning message
       about failed log-in attempts then pam_lastlog(8) has to be configured to update the
       lastlog file as well. For example by:

          session required nowtmp


       This su command was derived from coreutils' su, which was based on an implementation by
       David MacKenzie. The util-linux version has been refactored by Karel Zak.


       setpriv(1), login.defs(5), shells(5), pam(8), runuser(1)


       For bug reports, use the issue tracker at


       The su command is part of the util-linux package which can be downloaded from Linux Kernel
       Archive <>.