How to Install and Configure sudo on Ubuntu

How to Install and Configure sudo on Ubuntu

When managing an Ubuntu server or desktop, it’s crucial to have a mechanism that allows certain users to execute commands with elevated privileges.

This is where sudo comes into play. The sudo command, which stands for “superuser do”, allows permitted users to execute a command as the superuser or another user, as specified in the sudoers file.

This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to install and configure sudo on Ubuntu. By the end of this tutorial, you’ll have a clear understanding of the importance of sudo, its installation process, and its configuration for secure operations.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Update Your System

Before installing any new software, it’s a best practice to update the system’s package repository information. This ensures you’re getting the latest version of the software.

sudo apt update

Step 2: Install `sudo`

If your Ubuntu system doesn’t have sudo installed by default, you can install it using the following command:

apt install sudo

The apt command is the package manager for Debian-based systems like Ubuntu. The install option is used to install a new package. In this case, we’re installing the sudo package.

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Step 3: Add User to `sudo` Group

By default, Ubuntu has a sudo group. Members of this group are granted sudo access. To add a user to this group:

usermod -aG sudo username

The usermod command is used to modify user accounts. The -aG option appends the user to the supplementary groups mentioned. Here, we’re adding a user to the sudo group, which grants them sudo privileges.

Replace username with the actual username.

Step 4: Verify `sudo` Access

To ensure the user has sudo access, switch to that user and try running a command with sudo.

The sudo command allows a permitted user to execute a command as the superuser. The ls command lists the contents of a directory. When combined, sudo ls lists the contents of a directory with superuser privileges.

For instance:

sudo ls

You should be prompted for the user’s password. After entering it, the command should execute without issues.

Step 5: Configure `sudo` Permissions

The sudo permissions are controlled by the sudoers file. To edit this file securely, use the visudo command.

The visudo command is used to safely edit the sudoers file, which defines who can run what commands as which users. Running visudo with sudo ensures you have the necessary permissions to edit this critical file.

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For example:

sudo visudo

This opens the sudoers file in a safe mode, preventing multiple simultaneous edits and syntax errors.

Commands Mentioned

  • sudo apt update – Updates the package repository information.
  • apt install sudo – Installs the `sudo` package.
  • usermod -aG sudo username – Adds a user to the `sudo` group.
  • sudo ls – Tests `sudo` access by listing directory contents.
  • sudo visudo – Safely edits the `sudoers` file.


  1. Why is `sudo` important in Ubuntu?

    `sudo` allows users to execute commands with elevated privileges without logging in as the root user. This enhances security by minimizing the use of the root account and providing an audit trail of commands executed with superuser privileges.

  2. How can I remove a user from the `sudo` group?

    Use the command `gpasswd -d username sudo`, replacing `username` with the actual user’s name. This will remove the user from the `sudo` group, revoking their `sudo` privileges.

  3. What is the `sudoers` file?

    The `sudoers` file is a configuration file that determines which users can run which commands as which users. It provides granular control over `sudo` permissions and is vital for system security.

  4. Why use `visudo` instead of directly editing the `sudoers` file?

    `visudo` provides a safe way to edit the `sudoers` file. It prevents multiple users from editing the file simultaneously and checks for syntax errors before saving, reducing the risk of system lockouts due to misconfigurations.

  5. Can I use `sudo` on other Linux distributions?

    Yes, `sudo` is available on most Linux distributions. While the installation and configuration might vary slightly, the core functionality and purpose remain consistent across distributions.

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The sudo command is an essential tool for Ubuntu administrators, offering a secure way to execute commands with elevated privileges. Properly installing and configuring sudo ensures that you can perform administrative tasks without compromising system security.

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you’ve equipped your Ubuntu system with a powerful tool that enhances both functionality and security.

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