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I enetered chmod -R 777 /usr/bin and now sudo is not working.

It is giving error that sudo must be setuid root.

On looking via Google, some advice said to run chown root:root /usr/bin/sudo chmod 4755 /usr/bin/sudo.

On entering chown root:root /usr/bin/sudo it is showing an opened in readonly mode error.

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Apr 29 '12 at 2:41

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You must be root to run those commands –  Mat Apr 27 '12 at 13:44
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

On an Ubuntu desktop system, PolicyKit is installed, so pkexec can be used to repair a broken sudo executable or sudoers file. You do not need to boot into recovery mode and you do not need to boot from a live CD. You don't even need to reboot.

In this case, run the following commands:

pkexec chown root:root /usr/bin/sudo
pkexec chmod 4755 /usr/bin/sudo

See this question for more information.

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pkexec must be setuid root! What a nightmare! –  Damien Roche Aug 23 '13 at 14:26
As Damien points out, the problem with this approach is pkexec is in exactly the same predicament as sudo. It's normally setuid and lives in /usr/bin. I've tested it and this just doesn't work after chmod -R 777 /usr/bin. –  Oli Jul 3 at 16:39
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Even when running from the live CD / Pendrive, you must prefix your chmod command with sudo. So your steps will be like the following:

  1. boot from a live CD / Pendrive
  2. check whether your disk was already automounted (and where to). If not, mount it (see below)
  3. use sudo chmod 0755 <path> to adjust the permissions

How to figure out where your disk is mounted: from a terminal window, run mount (without arguments). This will list up all mounted devices. Check for the type listed -- you can skip everything not using a "real file system" (your disk probably uses either ext3 or ext4 -- you can for sure skip things like proc, sysfs and the like). If something sounds promising (looking like /dev/sda1 on /media/sda1 type ext3), check its contents using ls /media/sda1 to see if it's that.

If it is not mounted, you can check with the /dev entries where the disk could be (using ls /dev/ |grep '/dev/sd to check for available devices; your disk should look like /dev/sdaX, /dev/sdbX or the like -- with X being a number). Compare this with the list of mounted devices. If it's not there, try to mount it and check its contents (as shown above). To mount it, first create a mountpoint, e.g. sudo mkdir /mnt/mydisk, then try to mount the device using mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/mydisk and check its contents using ls /mnt/mydisk.

Once you get the right disk there, you can go to change the permissions back on your usr dir: sudo chmod 0755 /mnt/mydisk/usr.

Now you still might be in trouble if you originally ran the chmod command recursively, using the -R parameter. In that case you can either try to fix each entry manually -- or you can go straight for a fresh install...

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I tried to create mount point, but I got an error which read mount point mnt/mydisk does not exists is mydisk to be replaced with some thing and just for the record i wrote mount /dev/sda /mnt/mydisk from root@Ubuntu:/dev# –  vin Jul 9 '12 at 15:30
You did a) create that mount point (directory) before issuing the mount command (as described) and b) took care for the leading slash as well? Try mkdir -p /mnt/mydisk && mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/mydisk (I don't think you have no partitions on /dev/sda, so you must have missed the partition number as well. Make sure you specify the correct device (or mount will fail). –  Izzy Jul 9 '12 at 16:05
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I think Mat's correct, you must be root to add the bit to /usr/bin, but of course sudo is broken. If you have a root password you can use that to logon as root and then fix the permissions with the above command. If you don't, however, (and I don't either) it would probably be best to:

  • boot from a Linux live CD
  • become root there
  • mount the partition with the above system
  • then straighten out the permissions on that file system using a terminal.

Root is always user number 0 so root on any system can make changes allowed to root on other file systems.

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