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I a trying to edit the following file (ls -alstr output):
0 -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 0 Apr 15 17:07 /proc/sys/net/ipv4/icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts
Unfortunately, if I try to edit it with vim or simply with something like
sudo echo 0 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts
I get a
-bash: /proc/sys/net/ipv4/icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts: Permission denied
error. Following this post I was able to do
sudo bash -c 'echo 0 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts’
and edit the file successfully. If I login as root, I can successfully execute
echo 0 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts
but I still cannot edit the file with vim. The attempts to chmod and chown the file also failed.

My questions are (Questions 1 & 2 have already been answered here but I state them for completeness):

  1. Why can’t I edit the file as a normal user using sudo with >? (Because > is evaluated first and thus before the sudo)
  2. Why does the sudo bash -c 'echo 0 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/icmp_echo_ignore_broadcasts’ even work? (It invokes a new terminal under root and executes the command that follows)
  3. Why can’t I edit the file with vim when I am logged in as a normal user using sudo and/or as root?
  4. Why can’t I edit the file permissions and/or owner even when I am root?
  5. How can I make the change permanent so it stays there even after reboots?
share|improve this question
Because your using the proc file system which is directly accessing items set in the kernel. See this post – eyoung100 Apr 16 '14 at 20:27
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Normally you edit /etc/sysctl.conf and make those adjustments (rather then directly editing)


/proc is a "virtual file system" used by the kernel and the information within the "files" is managed by the kernel and adjusted / configured by editing system configuration files (rather then files within /proc). Answers questions #3 - 5

share|improve this answer
Indeed the link provided explains 'how' to properly edit those attributes permanently (Q5). However Q3 & Q4 are still unclear to me. Since the files belong to root, shouldn't I be able to modify them using sudo and/or root user with vim and/or chmod/chown? Which attribute(s) of the file specifies that I do not have the permissions to do so, even as root? – George Apr 16 '14 at 22:18
They are not files. See – bodhi.zazen Apr 16 '14 at 22:20
That was perfect! Thanks! – George Apr 17 '14 at 2:16
you are most welcome. – bodhi.zazen Apr 17 '14 at 2:47

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