I have a php script with this:

#echo exec('whoami');

$output = shell_exec('bash /usr/local/svn/bash_repo/make-live');
echo "$output";

The make-live script contains this:


cd /var/www-cake

sudo svn checkout file:///usr/local/svn/bash_repo/repo/

echo "Head revision has been pushed to live server"

So the PHP user who is www-data needs to have nopasswd for that script. I am told I need to add:

www-data ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/local/svn/bash_repo/make-live

To sudoers to allow this. First I run sudo visudo but I have no experience with vi so I try to open it in gedit with export EDITOR=gedit && sudo -E visudo which then just opens a sudoers.tmp file which is empty. I add the line and save it. But it doesn't do save.

So I just try sudo visudo and I add the line right beneath this part:

# User privilege specification
root    ALL=(ALL) ALL
www-data ALL=NOPASSWD: /usr/local/svn/bash_repo/make-live

I closed out sudoers and reopened to verify that it has saved. I even restart apache.

I run the php file and it still doesn't work.

What am I missing?

  • Were you able to solve this? If yes, how? May you please post the answer. I seem to be facing the a similar issue.
    – Shyam K
    Aug 8, 2012 at 12:08

1 Answer 1


Adding your apache user www-data to sudoers and then worse adding a no-password option is a REALLY BAD IDEA. It's a security issue to have the apache user being able to do anything as root and you should avoid it.

What you need to do is change the permissions of /var/www-cake so that www-data can write to it when you run svn checkout without the sudo.

Try this: sudo chown www-data:www-data /var/www-cake

Remove the sudo and try again.

  • I ran the command, I checked the permissions of the www-cake directory to verify that www-data is the owner. I removed "sudo" from the command in the make-live script. I then executing the php script by loading it in my browser. It did not work.
    – JD Isaacks
    Dec 29, 2010 at 21:05
  • The fact that it didn't work is related to your PHP code/configuration, it is expected to work, sudo is not a solution. Dec 29, 2010 at 21:48

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