Wheel (Unix term)
In computing, the term wheel refers to a user account with a wheel bit, a system setting that provides additional special system privileges that empower a user to execute restricted commands that ordinary user accounts cannot access. The term is derived from the slang phrase big wheel, referring to a person with great power or influence. It was first used in this context with regard to the TENEX operating system, later distributed under the name TOPS-20 in the 1960s and early 1970s.
Modern Unix systems generally use user groups as a security protocol to control access privileges. The wheel group is a special user group used on some Unix systems to control access to the sudo command, which allows a user to masquerade as another user (usually the super user).
The phrase wheel war, which originated at Stanford University, was first documented in the 1983 version of The Jargon File. A 'wheel war' was characterized as a part of an immature 'larval phase' wherein students with administrative privileges would attempt to lock each other out of a university's multi-user (see also:multiseat) computer system, sometimes causing unintentional harm to other users. By 2008, it had come into colloquial use amongst Wikipedia administrators in reference to the misuse of administrative tools during disputes.
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