Linux Users, Bypass “Executing Dolphin as root is not possible” and Regain Your KDE Dolphin Root Privileges

If you’ve started getting the following error message lately: ‘Executing Dolphin as root is not possible’, you should read this.

Updated Jul 2, 2018Quick Fix
Bypass “Executing Dolphin as root is not possible”

Starting with KDE Applications 17.04 and Plasma Desktop 5.9.5 the KDE team has removed an old time feature many of us have gotten used to along the years.

It isn’t a bug, nor did the feature removal has coincidentally sneaked into upstream KDE, rather, it was an administrative decision stemming from a security point of view (see: KDE Dropping “Run As Root”).

In light of the event, some Linux distros (e.g. Open SUSE) decided to ship their version of KDE with a patched Dolphin that allows users to keep using the ‘run as root’ feature for now, while other distros (e.g. Gentoo), supports an easy method to patch the new behavior.

Therefore as long as these distributions would keep providing their patches, or, as long as KDE won’t block the patch, I’ve decided to share with the rest of the Linuxs users the easiest way you too could enjoy the patch and thereof regain your super-user powers.

Before you do anything though, here’s a couple of important notices:

  1. The following patch has been built on a 64-bit architecture, against Dolphin 17.04.3 Edit: Currently, the available patched versions were compiled against Dolphin 17.08.3 & 17.12.3 and may or may not work with other versions of the file manager.
    Note: the second file was compiled against Dolphin 17.12.3. If you choose to use this file note you’ll have to rename it to to make it usable.
  2. The following was tested on my personal Gentoo machine as well as on a live KDE Neon distro running in virtual machine.

Regain Dolphin Super User Powers

The first step you need to take in order to regain Dolphin root privileges is to download the following file:

Download kdeinit5_dolphin


Donwload kdeinit5_dolphin_rename

Now, you’ll need to replace your current file with the one you’ve downloaded which is a patched file. To do so, run a search for the file and see where does your distribution placed that file. For instance, on KDE Neon, using Mlocate tool from Terminal, this is the result I got: (see image below)



Now that you know the folder in which your distro has placed the file, simply use the following command to replace it:

Note: before copying, thus deleting the current file, it’s recommended that you backup the file first.


As you can see in the below image, you should now be able to open Dolphin as root again, however, our fix is not complete as the root Dolphin you’ll now open will be missing icons.

Root Dolphin with missing icons

Root Dolphin with missing icons

To fix the missing icons issue, open up /etc/environment file with your favorite text editor (I use nano in Terminal) and add the following:


Save the file and exit, reopen Dolphin as root: sudo dolphin and the icons should be there.

Of course, now that you got it working, I’d recommend a much simpler way to integrate root Dolphin into your work-flow.

If this article helped you overcome “Executing Dolphin as root is not possible” error, please let me and other readers who may encounter this article know by posting a comment down below.

Mention your distro and possibly your Dolphin version if you can, so that other people could see with which specs should it work.

Also, if you’d like me to include patches for kwrite and kate in the future, please mention it in the comment section.

TAGS kde linux

COMMENTS (beta 4)

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Tony Brown 21 days ago
Dolphin 17.12.3  Used in Kubuntu, sadly it gives the following error on failing to start as root:dolphin: symbol lookup error: /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ undefined symbol: _ZN11DolphinView8dropUrlsERK4QUrlP10QDropEvent and this with the rename file as user: tony@kubuntu-1:~$ dolphin kf5.kio.core: Refilling KProtocolInfoFactory cache in the hope to find "stash" malloc(): memory corruption KCrash: crashing... crashRecursionCounter = 2 KCrash: Application Name = dolphin path = /usr/bin pid = 3726 KCrash: Arguments: /usr/bin/dolphin Alarm clock tony@kubuntu-1:~$ Thanks for your efforts, Tony
Liron 17 days ago Tony Brown
Hi Tony, There's now a new patched file that was compiled against Dolphin 17.12.3.That should do the trick for you.
Enrique Garcia 3 mons ago
Thank you very much, very usefull
Red Barchetta 4 mons ago
It's even worst that I thought!  First off, ( just noticed a few things ) how EXACTLY am I suppose to prevent any unprivileged user from even being able to read some text files, but still view and alter it if you do have root rights ( that's hypothetical ) - and also ( Real world, happened last night ) what about directories limited to root users.  Like /boot/efi - it just so happens I use that to manually create a grub menu for multi-booting ( I like that way the best so far ) but my boot options do change, so I NEED easy access to /boot/efi/grub/grub.cfg but wish to still keep it off limits to other than root so I know if it's altered, I did it.  And there is no reason for anyone else to see that file at all.
New World Man 4 mons ago
Need to do something ( Ver 17.12.2 ) this is highly annoying!  Never really noticed how much I used dolphin and other appz as root until this! ( Although I do multi-boot, and ONE OS only has a root account - not what I do, that is just the way the distro is. )  But --- well did I mention it is annoying?
Guest 6 mons ago
need a new patch for 17.12
Guest 6 mons ago
this did not work i even put the file there manually, what gives?? 
Freddy Camacho 6 mons ago
HI Liron, I am running Kubuntu 17.10 as root, BTE the same was you enable root in 15.04 works for 17.10, at least for me it did. Anyway to the question, I follow your recommendation and found my file in "/usr/lib/i386-linux-gnu/" then went ahead and replaced it but I am having the same problem I cannot open dolphin by clicking or terminal. Do you have any other recommendation? Thank you
Freddy Camacho 6 mons ago Freddy Camacho
CORRECTION: This is what I get when I run it from terminal now. Before I had "Can't run dolphin as root" root@kubuntu-17:~# dolphin dolphin: error while loading shared libraries: wrong ELF class: ELFCLASS64
Liron 6 mons ago Freddy Camacho
Hi Freddy, The error you get seem to imply that your KDE installation is of 32-bit architecture - that's why you get the: "wrong ELF class: ELFCLASS64". I believe you need the same patched file but suitable for 32-bit architecture.
Rhynotek 2 mons ago Freddy Camacho
Freddy, did you find a 32-bit version of the patch.  I should had read 2x the part about "Before you do anything though.." because it does says 64-bit. Uff!
jackdinn 7 mons ago
opps , i tried on Neon Dev-Stable Plasma 5.11.4 and it breaks dolphin all together. greg@greg-Inspiron-5767 ~/Downloads $ _ cp /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ greg@greg-Inspiron-5767 ~/Downloads $ dolphin kf5.kio.core: Refilling KProtocolInfoFactory cache in the hope to find "stash" KCrash: crashing... crashRecursionCounter = 2 KCrash: Application Name = dolphin path = /usr/bin pid = 3915 KCrash: Arguments: /usr/bin/dolphin   KCrash: Attempting to start /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libexec/drkonqi from kdeinit sock_file=/run/user/1000/kdeinit5__0 [1]+  Stopped                 dolphin To fix I used sudo apt-get --reinstall install dolphin But still a little lost without root access to dolphin on occasion :( 
Terry Parris 8 mons ago
In KDE Neon there is a way to launch a root editor like kate with the following command: SUDO_EDITOR=kate sudoedit (then path to file)
Liron 8 mons ago Terry Parris
Yes, that's valid for other Linux distributions as well, as long as you install sudoedit to begin with:
troy 8 mons ago
Thanks very much!
Guest 8 mons ago
In our Distro (KaOS) asks you Kate for your password once you like to save such a file:

So you open a root file as casual user and once you save that one, opens a dialog..
Slobodan 10 mons ago
Great post. I'm using sudo/kdesu Double Commander, and it works.
But what about text editors that cannot be run as root?
I have to edit fstab to automount partition and Kate with 'SUDO_EDITOR=kate sudoedit' can't do it - it edits duplicate in tmp and cannot save fstab. Help?
Liron 10 mons ago Slobodan
Hi, glad to read you found this article useful.

As for text editors, as mentioned in the article, I may add those patches as well. This would be a bit of work to create and test, so I'll do it in case there's enough demand.

As an interim solution, to my understanding it should be possible for you to use a non KDE text editor e.g. mousepad, leafpad, etc... Haven't tested this though..
Stephen 10 mons ago
Thank you very much for this article.  I am running Kubuntu 17.04 (KDE Plasma Version 5.10.5) and I have attempted to follow your directions.  I have replaced the current with the downloaded patched file.  However, when I then attempt to open Dolphin (kdesudo dolphin) the terminal displays the following:

/usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/ undefined symbol: _ZN11DolphinView12urlActivatedERK4QUrl

Would you please be able to advise what this means and what might be the solution?  I only have a very rudimentary understanding of (acquaintance with) the terminal and I find (found) the gui access of root privileges within Dolphin (on the infrequent times required) very useful.

And yes, I would very much like you to include patches for kwrite and kate in the future.
Liron 10 mons ago Stephen
Hello Stephen,

When you go into Dolphin's Help > About Dolphin, what is the exact version you see there? 17.04.?
Stephen 10 mons ago Liron
Hello Liron,

Thank you for your interest.  The version of Dolphin that I am running is 16.12.3.
Stephen 10 mons ago Stephen
Hello again, Liron,

A short while ago, I enabled the Kubuntu Backports PPA and subsequently was updated to Plasma 5.10.5.  As Dolphin is an integral part of KDE, I had assumed that I was, at the same time, updated to the latest Dolphin.  I can see now, that is not the case.

Actually, I do not get the message "Executing Dolphin as root is not possible".  Instead, Dolphin (root) is launched but it displays the message, "The process for the file protocol died unexpectedly".  I erroneously thought that this must have been the result of the removal of the Dolphin as Root feature.

So it appears now, that my inability to use Dolphin (root) is unrelated to the removal of the feature and that I will have to investigate the current problem, further.  I assume that when I am eventually upgraded to Dolphin 17.04, that I will have to repeat the procedure that you have outlined in the article.

Thanks again.