sudo - Linux


sudo (superuser do) is a powerful command used in Unix-like operating systems to run programs with the security privileges of another user, typically the system administrator (root). The primary purpose of this command is to allow a permitted user to execute a command as the superuser or another user, as specified in the sudoers file. This tool is essential for managing systems securely without sharing the root account.


The basic syntax for the sudo command is:


Here, COMMAND is the command you want to execute with elevated privileges. OPTIONS are the additional flags you can use to tweak sudo’s behavior.


  • -l, --list: List the user’s privileges or check a specific command; shows what commands the user can run on the current host.
  • -u USER, --user=USER: Run the command as a designated user instead of as the root.
  • -p PROMPT, --prompt=PROMPT: Use a custom prompt instead of the default.
  • -s, --shell: Run the shell specified by the SHELL environment variable if it is set or the shell specified in the password database.
  • -k, --reset-timestamp: Invalidate the timestamp to ensure that sudo prompts for a password next time.
  • -n, --non-interactive: Avoid prompting the user for a password. If a password is required, sudo will exit with an error.


  1. Basic Command Execution:

    sudo apt update

    This updates your package lists with superuser privileges.

  2. Run Command as Specific User:

    sudo -u username command

    Replace username with the desired user and command with the command.

  3. Edit a Protected File:

    sudo vim /etc/hosts

    Opens the /etc/hosts file in vim editor with superuser permissions.

  4. List User Privileges:

    sudo -l

    Shows what commands the current user can run.

Common Issues

  • Password Failures: If users encounter repeated failures in entering their password, it could be due to a misconfiguration in the sudoers file or due to the account being disabled from too many failed attempts. Ensure username and permissions are correctly set.

  • No User in sudoers File: This error message indicates that the user attempting to execute a command with sudo does not have the necessary rights. The user needs to be added to the sudoers file by an administrator.


sudo can be combined with other commands to perform complex tasks:

sudo sh -c 'echo 3 > /proc/sys/vm/drop_caches'

This command clears caches as the superuser.

  • su: Similar to sudo but switches to another user account.
  • visudo: Edits the sudoers file in a safe fashion.
  • sudoers: The configuration file for sudo, which dictates who can do what.

For further reading and more details on the sudo command and its configuration, you can visit the official Sudo Website.