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Setup a Non-root User with Sudo Access on Ubuntu

Published on: Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 5:14 am EST

Having only one user, which is root, can be dangerous. So let's fix that. Vultr provides us with the freedom to do as we please with our users and our servers. Let's make use of this by adding a user with sudo access instead of direct root access.

Add a new user

We need to first connect to the server with root so that we have adequate permissions. Once connected, add another user account.

# useradd <username>

Replace <username> with the desired username.

That command will add the user to the list of users on the system, and create a corresponding group (if the group doesn't exist).

Edit the hostname

With the default hostname set, sudo with throw the following error.

 sudo: unable to resolve host vultr.guest

We can prevent this error by changing the hostname. Your hostname is located after the "@" symbol in the shell. For example, root@<hostname> ~#.

Edit both /etc/hosts/ and /etc/hostname to update your hostname. Save the files when you're done editing them.

nano /etc/hosts
nano /etc/hostname

Restart the server

You must restart the server for the hostname change to take effect. Once the server finishes rebooting, log back in to continue.


Add a sudo entry

Even if you're root, you will need to run the "sudo" part of the following command.

sudo visudo

This will bring up a file with a bit of default info. What you need to look for is the following section:

# Cmnd alias specification

# User privilege specification
root    ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL

Find where "root" appears in the list shown above, and add the following. Substitute the appropriate variables.

<username> ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL

Finish setting up user account

We are almost finished. A few more minor steps.

Create the home folder for the new user.

mkdir /home/<username>

Give the new user permissions in that folder.

chown <username>:<usergroup> /home/<username> -R

Set a password for the new user.

sudo passwd <username>

Add the following to the /etc/passwd file.


Reboot the server again for these changes to take effect.


Using sudo

At this point, your new user account is ready-to-go with sudo access. You may log into the server with this new account and use sudo when necessary.

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