I'm using Ubuntu and I would like to find and/or print the sudo lecture that is printed to the screen the first time a user executes a sudo command. How can I do this? I'm unable to find the lecture file.

  • You could use apt-get source sudo to install the source package and then search for the lecture in the source code (cd sudo; grep -A4 "usual lecture").
    – depquid
    Jan 2, 2014 at 19:19

2 Answers 2


See man sudoers

Path to a file containing an alternate sudo lecture that will be used in place of the standard lecture if the named file exists. By default, sudo uses a built-in lecture.

So, if you wish to change the text, add it to a file and point to it from /etc/sudoers:

Defaults        lecture_file = /etc/sudoers.lecture

According to the change log for Ubuntu Qantal, sudo is now compiled --without-lecture.

The default text, when compiled in, is:

#define DEFAULT_LECTURE "\n" \
"We trust you have received the usual lecture from the local System\n" \
"Administrator. It usually boils down to these three things:\n\n" \
" #1) Respect the privacy of others.\n" \
" #2) Think before you type.\n" \
" #3) With great power comes great responsibility.\n\n"
  • Yes, I read the man page, but I still dont understand. If I try: nano /etc/sudoers.lecture there is no file present. How do I print or open the default lecture file?
    – turtle
    Jan 2, 2014 at 18:03
  • @turtle The default lecture is part of the source code, it's not in a plaintext file. You may be able to use strings, or similar, to extract it.
    – Chris Down
    Jan 2, 2014 at 18:25
  • Yes, in theory, this is exactly what I'm looking for; however, I do not get this output on Ubuntu or OS X.
    – turtle
    Jan 2, 2014 at 19:11
  • @turtle I have no idea about OSX, but on Ubuntu it is not compiled in.
    – jasonwryan
    Jan 2, 2014 at 19:44

The lecture text is compiled into the sudo binary. Issuing the following strings command will output the default lecture text.

strings /usr/bin/sudo | grep -A4 "usual lecture"
  • 1
    Thanks. This is starting to make some sense. However, on Ubuntu, the command you provided does not output anything.
    – turtle
    Jan 2, 2014 at 18:27
  • What version of Ubuntu? I am using 10.04 LTS to test. Jan 2, 2014 at 18:31
  • I'm on Ubuntu 12.04.3 LTS (Precise Pangolin).
    – turtle
    Jan 2, 2014 at 18:33
  • Does strings /usr/bin/sudo | grep "lecture" output anything? Jan 2, 2014 at 18:47
  • It shows a bunch of text. Here's a sample: --prefix=/usr -v --with-all-insults --with-pam --with-fqdn --with-logging=syslog --with-
    – turtle
    Jan 2, 2014 at 18:52

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