When I type a sudo command into the terminal it shows the following error:

sudo: /etc/sudoers is owned by uid 1000, should be 0
sudo: no valid sudoers sources found, quitting
sudo: unable to initialize policy plugin

How do I fix this?


6 Answers 6


Change the owner back to root:

pkexec chown root:root /etc/sudoers /etc/sudoers.d -R

Or use the visudo command to ensure general correctness of the files:

pkexec visudo
  • Im having a problem i have an ec2 instance and I tried your solution and it asks for password. How do I mitigate this?
    – david
    Jan 4, 2016 at 8:40
  • Well, that sucks; "The program 'pkexec' is currently not installed. You can install it by typing: sudo apt-get install policykit-1"
    – Koen.
    May 16, 2016 at 21:41
  • @Koen. It is installed by default on Ubuntu (unless you're talking a server or minimal installation, perhaps).
    – muru
    May 16, 2016 at 21:52
  • Indeed a server installation, but I fixed it by booting in single user mode.
    – Koen.
    May 16, 2016 at 22:22
  • 4
    I get this error: Error executing command as another user: Not authorized Mar 15, 2022 at 21:00

Another option, in the case that one doesn't have the password for root or ubuntu users. I've fat-fingered ownership (more times than I want to admit) and ending up doing this:

sudo chown -R owner:group /

instead of this:

sudo chown -R owner:group .

This has almost always been in the context of a Vagrant-managed VirtualBox VM running Ubuntu headless, so YMMV. I'd never had a good fix until now, but this seems to do the trick easyishly.


  • Create or edit /etc/rc.local
    • NOTE Do this as vagrant user without trying to set permissions to root.
  • For this task, /etc/rc.local should look like this:
#!/bin/sh -e
# rc.local
# This script is executed at the end of each multiuser runlevel.
# Make sure that the script will "exit 0" on success or any other
# value on error.
# In order to enable or disable this script just change the execution
# bits.
# By default this script does nothing.

chown -R root:root /etc/sudoers.d
chown root:root /etc/sudoers
chmod 440 /etc/sudoers

exit 0
  • Disconnect from SSH
  • Open VirtualBox Manager
  • Right-click VM in question
  • Select 'Close'=>'ACPI Shutdown'
  • Start the VM from the VirtualBox Manager by right-clicking the VM entry then selecting 'Start'=>'Normal Start'
  • SSH into VM
  • Use your now-restored sudo set permissions for children of / back to root:root

After the fix is in place the commands in /etc/rc.local can be removed.

  • 1
    I have no idea how this could work when sudo does not work—see title of post!! You can't sudo chown anything and you cannot edit /etc/rc.local without sudo working.
    – bvargo
    Dec 1, 2021 at 2:27

to recover from

sudo chown myuser:myuser /etc/sudoers 
chmod u+w /etc/sudoers
chmod u-w /etc/sudoers
sudo chown root:root /etc/sudoers 

The last of which results in the "sudo: /etc/sudoers is owned by uid 1000, should be 0", etc. errors. I tried to su - sudo which I've seen suggested but I don't think the root password was ever set so that did not work.¹

To fix this issue, I rebooted, dropped into a root shell and²

chown root:root /etc/sudoers
passwd root #for good measure, e.g., so su - root would work in the future!

Rebooted, voila.

NB: The pkexec commands suggested did not work for me while I was initially trying to fix the problem. After it was fixed via the recovery mode root shell, I subsequently tried it and a GUI window popped up asking for my password and it did work so YMMV.

¹ After fixing the problem, I repeated the steps and was able to recover with²

su - root
chown root:root /etc/sudoers

² The list of commands Rohlt suggests were unnecessary in my case but they might apply in other cases.


if you have set and have the root password, first run the following command

$ su - root

it will ask for the root password and then run following commands one by one

chown root:root /etc/sudoers 
chmod 440 /etc/sudoers
chown -R root:root /etc/sudoers.d
chmod  755 /etc/sudoers.d 
chmod  440 /etc/sudoers.d/*
  • 2
    On Ubuntu, root account is typically disabled, so this approach will not work. However, pkexec should work, if the only damage is to sudo's config.
    – vidarlo
    Feb 29, 2020 at 8:05
  • This method works just fine if you've set and have the root password. That said the command is wrong, it should be su - root not su -root.
    – bvargo
    Dec 1, 2021 at 2:35

In my case, I was running Windows Subsystem for Linux(WSL2). I had created a folder using VSCode(running in windows) and opened it for creating more files in it.

After closing VSCode(which kept running in background), I tried deleting the created folder from WSL2 terminal and got the above error.

The solution was to terminate instance of VSCode fully(or restart system) as it was keeping the folder opened.


Here is what worked for me after all other failed.

Here is the original link to my steps https://metamug.com/article/networking/unable-to-access-sudoers-owned-by-uid-1000.html

Open two SSH sessions to the target server.

(Put both SSH side by side, so you can enter password at SSH-2 when running STEP-3,in SSH-1)

  1. In the first session, get the PID of bash by running:
echo $$
  1. In the second session, start the authentication agent with:

(Use the pid obtained from step 1)

pkttyagent --process 29824
  1. Back in the first session, run:
pkexec chown root:root  /etc/sudoer
pkexec chown root:root /etc/sudoers /etc/sudoers.d -R


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