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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary
wheel bit
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A privilege bit that allows the possessor to perform some
restricted operation on a time-sharing system, such as read
or write any file on the system regardless of protections,
change or look at any address in the running monitor, crash or
reload the system, and kill or create jobs and user accounts.
The term was invented on the TENEX operating system, and
carried over to TOPS-20, XEROX-IFS, and others. The state of
being in a privileged logon is sometimes called "wheel mode".
This term entered the Unix culture from TWENEX in the
mid-1980s and has been gaining popularity there (especially at
university sites). See also root.
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