My name (root) - most dangerous word in computing?

Posted on Thu 21 July 2011 in About the site

I haven't posted for a while, I know. I've been busy doing other things is all. Some of which you may hear about soon, others only if I get around to posting about it.

One thing I have done recently is set up an http://about.me page. For most people, that's a very easy thing to do. If the name you want hasn't been taken you're good to go. For me, picking the name sroot turned out to be quite a challenge!

I've always had problems with my name and computing. On unix and linux, 'root' is the name of the super user. 'root' is god. 'root' can access anything, do anything, delete anything. When a server gets hacked, the last bit you want hackers to get access too is the 'root' account. Many services often prevent anyone registering the name root. Many prevent people registering anything that contains the string 'root'. I first remember noticing this when I tried to get a hotmail account. 'steveroot' and 'rootskitchens' were simply not allowed.

When I tried to sign up for an about.me page, I figured the failures being displayed were because of my name. I like the about.me site, so I persevered. I emailed their support and they helped! It turns out the name was blocked by the AOL namespace. I don't really know what that means, but I guess their usernames connect with AOL services in some ways and my name failed to be accepted. What's most impressive, is that for this FREE service, they actually took the time to find a solution. I genuinely expected to be told, 'you can't have a name that contains root, try using a nickname, or maybe remove the last letter like steveroo'.

Having had them go to so much effort just for little old me, I hope my about me page http://about.me/sroot does them justice.

By the way, I'll keep that page up to date with things like my twitter name, social media spaces and any other big projects I may be working on.