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:
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
~/.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
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
~/.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
nano, a command-line text editor, for editing. Type the following command and press Enter:
This will open your
~/.bashrc file in
nano. If you prefer to edit
~/.profile in the command.
Step 4: Add the PATH export command
Scroll down to the bottom of the file and add the following line:
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
Step 6: Apply the changes
For the changes to take effect, you need to reload your
~/.profile. You can do this by typing the following command and pressing Enter:
Or, if you edited
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:
You should now see
/usr/bin included in the output. Editing your
~/.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.
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
mount -o remount,rw / and press Enter. This command allows you to make changes to your system files.
Step 3: Install sudo
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
apt-get update and press Enter. This updates your package lists.
Step 2: Upgrade your packages
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
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
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!