King in the Mountain

A king in the mountain is a literary motif found in many legends (King Arthur, Charlemange, Constantine Palailogos) where a legendary hero is said to hide away in a secluded location, and shall return one day to lead the nation again in times of crisis.

The King in the Mountain is a method of managing the root user by disabling password login, giving certain users administrative access via sudo, but leaving an SSH keypair for the root user in secure storage that can be used again in case of emergency or to revoke access by other admins.

This method is inspired by the fact that Amazon AWS EC2 launches their Linux instances with a root/administrative user that is only accessible with a certain SSH keypair. Common practice dictates that administrative privileges are given to other trusted users, and the primary keypair is put away in a safe place.