Sudo Command in Linux – How to Use and Examples


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The sudo command in Linux is a powerful tool that allows authorized users to execute commands with elevated privileges.

It is designed to provide a controlled and secure approach to administrative tasks, reducing the need for constant root access and mitigating the risks associated with unrestricted superuser capabilities.

Sudo Command in Linux

The sudo command in Linux stands for superuser do, it is a powerful utility that allows users to execute commands with elevated privileges.

Sudo Command in Linux

By default, Linux systems have a root or superuser account, which possesses unrestricted access to all system resources.

By using the root account for regular tasks can be risky, as it grants unrestricted power that can potentially lead to accidental system modifications or security breaches.

  • The sudo command provides a safe and more controlled approach to executing privileged commands. It enables authorized users to run specific commands with elevated privileges temporarily.
  • This means that users can execute administrative tasks without needing to log in as the root user.
  • When a command is executed using sudo, it typically requires the user to provide their own password, rather than the root password.
  • This authentication step adds an extra layer of security and ensures that only authorized users can access superuser capabilities.
  • Sudo offers flexibility in granting access to specific commands or groups of commands to individual users or groups.

How to Use Sudo Command in Linux

To use the sudo command in Linux, follow the usage considerations of the sudo command as shown below.

  • Principle of Least Privilege.
    • The sudo command works on the principle of least privilege, which means that users are granted only the privileges required to perform specific tasks.
  • Configuration.
    • The sudo command’s configuration is managed through the sudoers file, typically located at /etc/sudoers.
    • The visudo command is used to safely edit this file, performing syntax checks to prevent errors.
  • User Authentication.
    • When using sudo, users are typically required to authenticate themselves by entering their own user password or root password.
  • User Specification.
    • The sudo command supports different options for specifying the target user when executing commands. The -u or –user option allows running commands as a specific user, providing flexibility in executing tasks.
  • Command Execution.
    • sudo users can run a wide range of commands with elevated privileges. The sudo command allows these operations to be performed securely and in a controlled manner.
  • Environment Variables.
    • sudo command resets the environment variables and sets a limited set of variables for the executed command. The -E or –preserve-env option preserves the user environment variables.

Using the sudo command in Linux is relatively straightforward. Let us now see how to use sudo commands in linux.

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How to Grant Sudo Access to Users

Granting sudo access to users in Linux involves configuring the sudoers file to define user privileges and specify which commands they can execute with elevated permissions.

  1. Open a Terminal.
  2. Edit the sudoers file.
    • Use a text editor, such as nano or vim, to open the sudoers file. It is recommended to use the visudo command.
      • sudo visudo
  3. Locate the User Privilege Specification section.
  4. Grant sudo access.
    • username ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL
    • Replace ‘username’ with the actual username of the user.
    • This line permits the user to run the apt command with elevated privileges.
  5. Save and exit the sudoers file.
  6. Verify sudo access.
    • To verify, open a new Terminal window and run a command with sudo.
    • sudo command
    • Replace ‘command’ with any command, such as sudo apt update.

Sudo Command: Syntax and Options

The sudo command in Linux comes with various options and syntax variations to customize its behavior and provide additional functionality.

Syntax Name  Descriptionsudo command
Basic SyntaxThe basic syntax for the sudo command.sudo [options] command
Replace [options] with any of the available options and ‘command’ with the actual command.  
-u, –user=user  This option allows you to specify the user. It allows you to run commands as a user other than the default superuser (root). The syntax is as follows.  sudo -u username command
Replace ‘username’ and ‘command’ with the actual details.  
-i, –login  Use this option to start a login shell as the target user.  sudo -i command
Replace `command` with the command you want to execute.  
-s, –shell  This option allows you to run the shell specified by the SHELL environment variable or the shell defined for the target user.  sudo -s shell
Replace ‘shell’ with the desired shell, such as /bin/bash or /usr/bin/zsh.  
-E, –preserve-env  sudo resets the environment and only preserves a few variables. The -E option preserves the user environment variables when executing the command. It can be useful if you need to retain specific environment settings.sudo -E command
Replace ‘command’ with the command you want to execute.  
-l, –list  The -l option allows you to list the commands or privileges that the current user or the specified user can execute with sudo. It is helpful to verify the sudo access or to review the available commands.sudo -1
This will display a list of commands or privileges associated with the current user.

These are just a few examples of the options available for the sudo command.

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Sudo Command in Linux Examples

Some examples showcasing the usage of the sudo command in Linux.

Syntax NameDescriptionsudo command
Installing Packages with apt  This command installs the specified package using the apt package manager with elevated privileges.sudo apt install package_name
Replace ‘package_name’ with the name of the package you want to install.  
Editing System Configuration Files  This command opens the nginx.conf file for editing using the nano text editor with superuser privileges.sudo nano /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
Replace /etc/nginx/nginx.conf with the path to any system configuration file you need to modify.
Managing System Services with systemctl  This command starts the specified system service using the systemctl command with elevated privileges.sudo systemctl start service_name
Replace ‘service_name’ with the name of the service you want to start.
Creating User Accounts  This command creates a new user account with the specified username using the useradd command with superuser privileges.sudo useradd username
Replace ‘username’ with the desired username for the new account.  
Modifying File Permissions  This command changes the permissions of the specified file to read and write for the owner, and read-only for the group and others.sudo chmod 644 file_name
Replace ‘file_name’ with the name of the file you want to modify.  
Upgrading the System  This command updates the package lists and upgrades all installed packages on the system using the apt package manager with superuser privileges.  sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Run a Command as a Root user

To run a command as the root user in Linux using the sudo command, you can simply prefix the command with sudo.


sudo command

Replace “command” with the actual command you want to execute.

When you run the command with sudo, enter your own password, your user account is configured with sudo access.

Execute a Command as a Different User

To execute a command as a different user in Linux using the sudo command, you can utilize the -u or –user option.

Example: –

sudo -u username command

Replace ‘username’ with the username of the user.

Execute a Program in the Background

To execute a program in the background in Linux, you can use the & symbol at the end of the command.


command &

When you execute a program in the background, its output may still appear in the terminal.

To prevent the program from displaying output, you can redirect both standard output and standard error to /dev/null using the following command.

myprogram >/dev/null 2>&1 &

Also read: How to Install Python Pip on Windows

Basic Sudo Command Troubleshooting

When working with the sudo command in Linux, you may encounter some common troubleshooting scenarios. Few basic troubleshooting steps to overcome the issues.

  • Invalid sudoers Entry
    • If you receive an error message indicating an invalid sudoers entry, it means there is a syntax error in the sudoers file.
    • To fix this, open the sudoers file using the visudo command, and carefully review and correct any syntax errors.
  • Incorrect Sudo Configuration
    • If sudo is not working as expected, it could be due to incorrect configuration settings. Use the visudo command to open the sudoers file, and review the configuration entries.
  • Sudo Access Denied
    • If you receive an access denied or permission denied error when running a command with sudo, it could be due to insufficient sudo privileges.
  • Environment Variables
    • You can use the -E or –preserve-env option with sudo to retain the environment variables of the invoking user.
  • Insufficient Disk Space
    • Sometimes, a command executed with sudo requires disk space for temporary files or other operations.

Sudo Command Best Practices

When using the sudo command in Linux, it’s important to follow best practices to secure and effective system administration. Some recommended sudo command best practices.

  • Grant Least Privilege: Follow the principle of least privilege by granting sudo access only to trusted users and limiting their privileges to specific commands.
  • Use Visudo for Editing the sudoers File: Always use the visudo command to edit the sudoers file. The visudo command checks for syntax errors before saving the file, preventing accidental misconfigurations.
  • Validate sudoers File Changes: After making changes, validate the modifications using the sudo -l command.
  • Protect Your Password: Safe your sudo password and avoid sharing it with others.
  • Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
  • Regularly Review sudoers File
  • Be Cautious with Command Arguments
  • Monitor sudo Activity

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