When you first create a new Ubuntu 16.04 server, there are a few configuration steps that you should take early on as part of the basic setup. This will increase the security and usability of your server and will give you a solid foundation for subsequent actions.
Step One — Root Login
To log into your server, you will need to know your server's public IP address. You will also need the password or, if you installed an SSH key for authentication, the private key for the "root" user's account.
If you are not already connected to your server, go ahead and log in as the
root user using the following command (substitute the highlighted word with your server's public IP address):
Complete the login process by accepting the warning about host authenticity, if it appears, then providing your root authentication (password or private key). If it is your first time logging into the server with a password, you will also be prompted to change the root password.
The root user is the administrative user in a Linux environment that has very broad privileges. Because of the heightened privileges of the root account, you are actually discouraged from using it on a regular basis. This is because part of the power inherent with the root account is the ability to make very destructive changes, even by accident.
The next step is to set up an alternative user account with a reduced scope of influence for day-to-day work. We'll teach you how to gain increased privileges during the times when you need them.
Step Two — Create a New User
Once you are logged in as
root, we're prepared to add the new user account that we will use to log in from now on.
This example creates a new user called "john", but you should replace it with a username that you like:
You will be asked a few questions, starting with the account password.
Enter a strong password and, optionally, fill in any of the additional information if you would like. This is not required and you can just hit
ENTER in any field you wish to skip.
Step Three — Root Privileges
Now, we have a new user account with regular account privileges. However, we may sometimes need to do administrative tasks.
To avoid having to log out of our normal user and log back in as the root account, we can set up what is known as "superuser" or root privileges for our normal account. This will allow our normal user to run commands with administrative privileges by putting the word sudo before each command.
To add these privileges to our new user, we need to add the new user to the
"sudo" group. By default, on Ubuntu 16.04, users who belong to the
"sudo" group are allowed to use the
root, run this command to add your new user to the
sudo group (substitute the highlighted word with your new user):
usermod -aG sudo sammy
If you want to increase the security of your server, follow the rest of the steps in this tutorial.