I have added the following to my user's .bashrc file to get a longer prompt in less:

export LESS="-M"

This is added to the root user's .bashrc file as well, so when I sudo bash to get a root shell, it works just as well.

But when using sudo less …, it doesn't apply. There's only the simple colon prompt giving me no information at all where I am in the file. How can I change that?

2 Answers 2


You should keep this environmental variable when running sudo. Edit the file /etc/sudoers and add

Defaults        env_keep += "LESS"

You need to be using aliases in your .bashrc file not export. You need to be editing your /etc/bash.bashrc file to inclide,

 alias less="sudo less -m" 

more info from this POST

  • 2
    The following question has answers that explain why exporting the variables do not work: askubuntu.com/questions/161924/… If you want to use your current method, you can use 'sudo -E', but setting up an alias as Mike suggests, is probably a better way to do it.
    – Tobias
    Dec 7, 2014 at 19:43
  • 1
    Not all less should do sudo...
    – ygoe
    Dec 8, 2014 at 6:50

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