I'm trying to run a command as root (via sudo) on a remote server, and capture stdout (but not stderr) into a file.

eg. Something like this:

ssh user@remote "cat /root/file.tar | gzip" > root-file.tar.gz

Except I need to be root on the remote:

ssh user@remote "sudo cat /root/file.tar | gzip" > root-file.tar.gz

root has no password and can't be logged in as, so I can't use su or ssh root@server.

When I try the above command, I get:

$ ssh user@remote "sudo cat /root/file.tar | gzip" > root-file.tar.gz
sudo: no tty present and no askpass program specified

I added -t so that ssh allocates a tty, but then root-file.tar.gz gets the output from sudo (and gzip, but I can --force), so I guess it's capturing remote stdout and stderr into local stdout:

$ ssh -t user@remote "sudo cat /root/file.tar | gzip" > root-file.tar.gz

$ cat root-file.tar.gz
gzip: compressed data not written to a terminal. Use -f to force compression.
For help, type: gzip -h
[sudo] password for user:

I've white-listed specific commands using NOPASSWD in sudoers, which works well for regularly-occurring scripts, but I find that I want to do this sort of thing occasionally with different arbitrary commands so I can't be forever adding NOPASSWD.

  • +1. But the root has no password line seems little misleading. Did you by any chance mean to say the root has no login prompt?
    – Ramesh
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 14:23

1 Answer 1


You can pass the -S option[0] to sudo, so it can accept the password from stdin instead of requiring a tty.

This will probably cause your password to echo to the terminal, so try turning echo off yourself:

$ stty -echo; ssh user@remote "sudo cat /root/file.tar | gzip" > root-file.tar.gz
[sudo] password for user:

[0] From the manpage: The ‑S (stdin) option causes sudo to read the password from the standard input instead of the terminal device. The password must be followed by a newline character.

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