Is it possible to run a cron job which needs the sudo command?


 sudo rm somefile
  • Welcome Sayem Siam, Have a look at the answers to this question askubuntu.com/questions/2368/how-do-i-setup-cron-job. as I think your question has been asked before here on AU Aug 9, 2012 at 17:56
  • 1
    I am trying to execute sudo which needs password but how can i giv password from cron file
    – sayem siam
    Aug 9, 2012 at 17:59
  • 3
    @sayemsiam you don't need to put sudo, just edit the root crontab.
    – Braiam
    Dec 6, 2013 at 12:21
  • See this answer.
    – user13975
    Jan 21, 2018 at 8:31

5 Answers 5


I won't get into how much this is a bad idea; simply put, running sudoin crontab requires your password to be stored somewhere in plaintext.

It's a bad idea.

The following is the preferred method of running administrative tasks through cron. Since you don't really need to write sudo in the crontab, if you are modifying root's crontab.

Use root's crontab

Run the following command:

sudo crontab -e

This opens up root's crontab. sudo is not necessary to run your command in this context, since it'll be invoked as root anyway.

Therefore, you would simply append the following to root's crontab.

@hourly rm somefile

Now, if you absolutely want to be unsafe and take risks with your password, the following will run your command from your own crontab, and enter your password automatically when prompted by sudo.

Again, this is not recommended.

In your own crontab, write your command like so:

@hourly echo "password" | sudo -S rm somefile

The obvious disadvantage here is that, should anyone ever access your crontab, your password will be readable in plaintext.

You shouldn't do this.

  • 2
    Glad it works! Just be wary of any security holes you leave behind.. They might come back later to haunt you.
    – SirCharlo
    Aug 9, 2012 at 18:15
  • 2
    @SirCharlo Why use root's user crontab instead of the systemwide crontab /etc/crontab? Aug 10, 2012 at 3:47
  • 2
    @Elijah why not?
    – SirCharlo
    Aug 11, 2012 at 4:43
  • 4
    This answer misses the mark because it glosses over the subtleties available in your sudoers file, like sudo groups without a password requirement.
    – brent
    Jan 9, 2018 at 21:13
  • very very useful point, thanks for great help. Aug 28, 2018 at 8:46

If you are putting the script from one of the cron directories (/etc/cron.*) then you don't need to use sudo as that is running as root.

If you are using crontab, then you will want to use root's crontab. This will run it as root, and also not need sudo.

sudo crontab -e
  • 1
    I would also place the command in /etc/cron.hourly/something. That's what these directories are for. Aug 23, 2012 at 15:37
  • 4
    No. You could put it in /etc/cron.SOMETHING/SCRIPT, but I wouldn't do both. Both would give roughly the same function, although using crontab you would have a bit more power over how often/when things run.
    – tgm4883
    Aug 23, 2012 at 17:40
  • 2
    I should have made clear that I meant that as an alternative. Thanks. Aug 23, 2012 at 17:43

Run following command in terminal

sudo visudo

Added the following line to the end of the file:

vidyadhar  ALL= NOPASSWD: /bin/rm

In the above example vidyadhar is the username and it will not ask for password if you are running rm command through vidyadhar.

  • 25
    Hmm.. Then any malicious command, like sudo rm -rf 'slash' (don't run that command), run from that user, would require no password.. I don't know, it feels unsafe, no?
    – SirCharlo
    Aug 9, 2012 at 18:09
  • 34
    This is an extremely bad idea. Please don't do this.
    – bkanuka
    Jun 29, 2014 at 1:38
  • 4
    Maybe vidyadhar ALL= NOPASSWD: /bin/rm somefile would be more secure. Jul 28, 2016 at 8:28
  • 2
    This is a terrible idea. You gave blanket sudo permissions to rm. Instead, give sudo permissions to a script your comand, including rm or others in that script, make it executable, then give sudo permissions to that script. <username> ALL=(ALL) NOPASSWD: /home/<username>/bin/<script>, which would be much safer.
    – R J
    Jul 1, 2018 at 11:28
  • 2
    This is not "an extremely bad idea", please stop with the useless hyperbole. Obviously giving a user the same amount of power as root will make it just as dangerous as root. This is perfect for a dedicated backups user, or other user account whos access is as tightly controlled as root.
    – user630247
    Oct 23, 2018 at 15:44

Sometimes it is necessary for root to execute a command as a specific user of the system. For example, with borgbackup, it is common to have root check the warehouse using the borg user. if the task must be executed once a day, we will use the /etc/cron.daily folder, like that:

# cat /etc/cron.daily/borgbackup_check

sudo -u borg borg check /borgbackup >> /var/log/borgbackup.log

where "-u borg" is used take the identity of the borg user, "borg" is the borg command and "/borgbackup" is the wharehouse.


Nobody mentioned having an executable script with setuid bit? I can see where this might be a security vulnerability, too (don't cut yourself, sharp knives in this drawer, keep permissions tight), but feels less dicey than working in the root crontab. For instance, I'd like to defrag/fstrim nightly or weekly even when I am not present.

Another alternative is to leave a script running in a loop, sleeping until the time is right, that you launch with sudo.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .