Whenever I run a sudo command in the terminal, this happens:

arun@arun-GP70-2OD:~$ sudo apt-get update
sudo: /etc/sudoers.d/README is world writable
sudo: /var/lib/sudo writable by non-owner (040777), should be mode 0700
 [sudo] password for arun:

The sudo commands still work (I think so, although the only one I have tested is sudo apt-get).

What are these strange messages before I get asked for the password? Is there any big problem here? Should I do something about this? Or can I just leave it like this and continue using my system?

  • Well, did you check the permission on /etc/sudoers.d/README file as the error suggested ? Mar 28, 2016 at 9:30
  • 3
    I'd be concerned about overall system security/stability at this point, as clearly something has happened to screw up permissions. It may be the relatively safe option of a filesystem becoming corrupt, or something more insidious.
    – Phil Lello
    Mar 28, 2016 at 19:32
  • @Phil Lello Yes, I formated my drive and did a clean install. More details in the comments under the accepted answer.
    – Fiksdal
    Mar 28, 2016 at 19:43

1 Answer 1


The messages are self explanatory.

By design sudo related files and libraries should only be readable (and writable if needed) by root.

The directory /var/lib/sudo contains individual user's sudo related data, which could be easily read/modified if a non-root user have sufficient permission, which is of course a security issue.

The file /etc/sudoers.d/README contains info regarding implementation of sudo. Imagine a rogue user edit the file and add false info (and you follow that).

So, in a nutshell, fix the permissions:

sudo chmod 0400 /etc/sudoers.d/README
sudo chmod -R 0700 /var/lib/sudo  ## Recursively

And of course make sure the owner is root (and group root).

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Oli
    Mar 28, 2016 at 10:48
  • @heemayl Maybe it's worth adding to the answer that whatever caused a problem like this might possibly have caused other security problems as well? I, fearing this, formated my drive and did a clean install.
    – Fiksdal
    Mar 29, 2016 at 4:52

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