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How to fix ‘sudo Command Not Found’ error in Ubuntu

Encountering 'sudo command not found' in Ubuntu can be a hurdle. This guide provides clear instructions to diagnose and fix the issue, whether it's installing sudo, adjusting the PATH, or accessing the root account. Regain control and ensure smooth system administration with these straightforward steps.

by Arun Kumar
resolving 'sudo command not found' in ubuntu

If you’ve landed here, you’re probably facing the somewhat infamous ‘sudo command not found’ error on your Ubuntu system. Don’t worry; you’re not alone. This is one of those issues that can be annoying but is usually straightforward to fix. As an Ubuntu user myself, I’ve faced this issue a couple of times and have successfully resolved it. Let me walk you through the steps to get your system back on track.

Understanding the ‘sudo command not found’ error

Before diving into the solutions, it’s essential to understand what this error means. In Ubuntu, ‘sudo’ is a command used to perform tasks that require administrative or root permissions. If your system can’t find the ‘sudo’ command, it usually means there’s a problem with your system’s PATH environment or that the sudo package isn’t installed correctly.

Checking your PATH environment

First things first, let’s make sure the issue isn’t with your PATH. The PATH environment variable tells your system where to look for executable files (like commands).

Step 1: Open your terminal

You can do this by pressing Ctrl+Alt+T or searching for ‘Terminal’ in your Ubuntu dashboard.

Step 2: Check your PATH

When you run the command echo $PATH in your terminal, it displays the directories where your system looks for executable files. Here are examples of both a positive (good) result and a negative (problematic) result:

Example of a positive result

When you type echo $PATH and press Enter, a positive result would look something like this:


This output is positive because it includes /usr/bin, the typical directory where the sudo command is located. With this PATH, your system should be able to find and execute the sudo command without any issues.

Example of a negative result

Now, here’s what a negative result might look like:


In this output, /usr/bin is missing. This absence is problematic because, without /usr/bin in the PATH, the system won’t check this directory for the sudo command, leading to the ‘sudo command not found’ error.

What to do in case of a negative result

If you encounter a negative result, you’ll need to add /usr/bin to your PATH. You can do this temporarily by running the command:

export PATH=$PATH:/usr/bin

This command appends /usr/bin to your current PATH. However, this change is temporary and will last only for the current session. For a permanent fix, you’ll need to add this line to your ~/.bashrc or ~/.profile file, so it gets executed every time you start a new session.

Here’s how to do it:

Editing the ~/.bashrc or ~/.profile file

Step 1: Open the terminal

Press Ctrl+Alt+T or search for ‘Terminal’ in your Ubuntu dashboard to open a terminal window.

Step 2: Choose the file to edit

You can choose either ~/.bashrc or ~/.profile for this purpose. The ~/.bashrc is typically used for interactive bash shells, while ~/.profile is for login shells. For most users, editing ~/.bashrc should suffice.

Step 3: Open the file in a text editor

Let’s use nano, a command-line text editor, for editing. Type the following command and press Enter:

nano ~/.bashrc

This will open your ~/.bashrc file in nano. If you prefer to edit ~/.profile, replace ~/.bashrc with ~/.profile in the command.

Step 4: Add the PATH export command

Scroll down to the bottom of the file and add the following line:

export PATH="$PATH:/usr/bin"

This line ensures that /usr/bin is included in your PATH environment variable.

Step 5: Save and close the file

After adding the line, save the file by pressing Ctrl+O, then press Enter. Exit nano by pressing Ctrl+X.

Step 6: Apply the changes

For the changes to take effect, you need to reload your ~/.bashrc or ~/.profile. You can do this by typing the following command and pressing Enter:

source ~/.bashrc

Or, if you edited ~/.profile, use:

source ~/.profile

Alternatively, you can simply close and reopen your terminal, or log out and log back in for the changes to take effect system-wide.

Confirming the changes

To confirm that /usr/bin has been successfully added to your PATH, you can echo the PATH variable again:

echo $PATH

You should now see /usr/bin included in the output. Editing your ~/.bashrc or ~/.profile is a straightforward way to permanently modify your environment variables, including PATH. This method ensures that your settings persist across different terminal sessions and system reboots.

Reinstalling sudo

If sudo isn’t in your PATH, it might not be installed. Here’s how to fix that.

Step 1: Access the root shell

You’ll need to get to the root shell. You can do this by booting into recovery mode. Restart your computer, and when the GRUB menu appears, choose ‘Advanced options for Ubuntu’, then ‘Recovery mode’, and finally, ‘root – Drop to root shell prompt’.

Step 2: Remount your filesystem with write permissions

Type mount -o remount,rw / and press Enter. This command allows you to make changes to your system files.

Step 3: Install sudo

Type apt-get install sudo and press Enter. This should install the sudo package.

Updating your system

Sometimes, a simple update can fix many issues, including this one.

Step 1: Update your package lists

Type apt-get update and press Enter. This updates your package lists.

Step 2: Upgrade your packages

Type apt-get upgrade and press Enter. This upgrades your packages, which might fix the sudo issue.

Creating a new user with sudo privileges

If none of the above works, you might need to create a new user with sudo privileges.

Step 1: Add a new user

Type adduser newusername (replace ‘newusername’ with your preferred username) and press Enter. Follow the prompts to set up the new user.

Step 2: Add the new user to the sudo group

Type adduser newusername sudo and press Enter. This gives your new user sudo privileges.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on fixing ‘sudo command not found’ in Ubuntu

1. What does ‘sudo command not found’ mean?

The error ‘sudo command not found’ typically indicates that the sudo command is not installed on your system, or it’s not in your system’s PATH environment variable, meaning the system doesn’t know where to find it.

2. How do I check if sudo is installed on my Ubuntu system?

To check if sudo is installed, you can try locating its binary. Type whereis sudo in your terminal. If it returns a path (like /usr/bin/sudo), sudo is installed. If it returns nothing, sudo is likely not installed.

3. Can I use Ubuntu without sudo?

While it’s possible to use Ubuntu without sudo, sudo is essential for performing administrative tasks safely. Without it, you’d have to log in as the root user, which is not recommended for routine tasks due to security risks.

4. How do I install sudo if it’s not on my system?

You can install sudo by accessing the root shell (through recovery mode) and running apt-get install sudo. This requires root access and should be done cautiously.

5. Is it safe to edit the ~/.bashrc or ~/.profile file?

Yes, it’s generally safe to edit these files, but you should be cautious. Make sure you don’t delete or alter existing content unless you know what it does. Always back up these files before making changes.

6. What should I do if I made a mistake editing the ~/.bashrc or ~/.profile file?

If you made a mistake, you can revert the changes using a backup of the file. If you didn’t make a backup, you can often fix the issue by opening the file in a text editor and carefully undoing the recent changes.

7. Will reinstalling Ubuntu fix the ‘sudo command not found’ error?

Reinstalling Ubuntu will likely fix this error, as it will reinstall all the base packages, including sudo. However, this should be a last resort as it will remove all existing data and settings on your system.

8. Can updating Ubuntu fix the issue?

Sometimes, updating your system can resolve various issues, including the ‘sudo command not found’ error. Running apt-get update and apt-get upgrade can help ensure all your packages, including sudo, are up to date.

9. How do I add my user to the sudo group?

If your user is not part of the sudo group, you can add them by running adduser yourusername sudo in the terminal. This requires root privileges.

10. Can I use a GUI method to fix this issue?

Some aspects of this issue, like creating a new user with sudo privileges, can be done using the GUI (Graphical User Interface). However, most fixes, such as editing the PATH or reinstalling sudo, require using the terminal.


Dealing with system errors like ‘sudo command not found’ can be a bit of a headache, but it’s also a great learning opportunity. Ubuntu, in all its glory, can sometimes throw curveballs at us, but it’s all part of the fun of working with an open-source system. I hope this guide has helped you resolve your issue.

Keep exploring and enjoying Ubuntu!

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