Disable “rootless” in Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan

With the release of Mac OS 10.11 right around the corner, those who are used to being able to make changes to the backend system may be surprised to find that El Capitan now runs “rootless”. Essentially meaning that by default you are no longer able to utilize the root user or sudo / su commands to bypass permissions! The intent of this “feature” is to make it nearly impossible for hackers or poorly written software to corrupt your system and leave it unable to operate. For the average user this is a great feature, but for developers it can be a bit of a nightmare.

While it is not recommended to disable this feature, advanced users may find it necessary or order to actually continue working as they have pre El Capitan.

Luckily disabling the feature is fairly easy, assuming of course you have a recovery volume installed. Sorry RAID users, it needs to be disabled from a recovery volume, Single User Mode won’t cut it. If you don’t have a recovery volume setup your going to need to create a recovery volume on a USB keyed boot off of that.

Disable Rootless in Mac OS 10.11 El Capitan

  1. Restart the computer, while booting hold down Command-R to boot into recovery mode. If using a USB Key, hold down option and select the recovery volume.
  2. Once booted, navigate to the “Utilities > Terminal” in the top menu bar.
  3. Enter the follow command in the terminal window and hit the return key.
    csrutil disable
  4. Restart the machine and System Integrity Protection will now be disabled.

To reenable “rootless” simply follow the above steps again and replace the word disable with the word enable in step 3.

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