If you’re looking through WHM’s process manager and you see root@notty mentioned as one of the processes, don’t be alarmed. It’s perfectly normal and it’s definitely not some hacker called ‘Notty’ who has suddenly got root permissions. Be honest, you’re here because you thought that 😉
You may also have seen sshd: root@notty in the output of ps aux too.
The term ‘notty’ just represents ‘no tty’ which roughly translates as meaning ‘no terminal’. When you login locally to any Linux machine the terminal will always appear in the process list as ‘tty’. If a connection is made via SFTP or you are copying files with SCP (as I did here on a test server prior to bringing up the screenshot above) then it will show as no tty (notty).
Where does TTY come from?
Many years ago, user terminals that were connected to computers were clunky and noisy Electro-mechanical Teleprinters also known as Teletypewriters. They took the latter phrase and chopped some characters out to get the TTY abbreviation:
TeleTYpewriter = TTY
Since then, TTY has been used as the shortened name for a text-only console. Here’s a teletypewriter in action:
Now you can’t say that things haven’t progressed!