As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’ve recently moved my website and some other services over to a FreeBSD server - and when you set up FreeBSD, it runs several automated checks as cron or periodic jobs. I’ve configured FreeBSD to email me various system logs on a daily basis, so that I get an idea of what’s happening on my server every day.

Most of these emails are sent by the root user on the system - this is no coincidence, as the automated checks contain privileged information about available updates, security problems with user accounts UID changes on files, and so on. These emails are forwarded to my personal email account using a Postfix alias. When these emails come through to me, oddly enough they appear to come from a user called “Charlie Root”. Originally, I just thought I’d misconfigured my server (my name is Charlie, so I thought I’d entered that as the root user’s first name by accident) - but upon further Googling it turns out that “Charlie Root” is a common name in BSD for the root user.

The only reference that I can find to a Charlie Root online is this 20th century baseball player coincidentally named Charlie Henry Root - or C. H. Root (chroot)! Charlie Root died in 1970 (around when the initial BSD distribution began development), so I guess this might be related. Then again, perhaps not - and the reason behind “Charlie Root” is lost to the sands of time.