If a server has the following in /etc/sudoers:

Defaults targetpw

Then what does this mean? all the users can sudo to all the commands, only their password is needed?

  • 12
    It means "security Nirvana", that's what it means. ;)
    – lcd047
    May 6, 2015 at 20:51
  • In Ubuntu 20.04.1 LTS I saw like this ALL=(ALL:ALL) ALL two ALL s together `
    – Arun
    Feb 24, 2021 at 10:58

1 Answer 1


From the sudoers(5) man page:

The sudoers policy plugin determines a user's sudo privileges.

For the targetpw:

sudo will prompt for the password of the user specified by the -u option (defaults to root) instead of the password of the invoking user when running a command or editing a file.

sudo(8) allows you to execute commands as someone else

So, basically it says that any user can run any command on any host as any user and yes, the user just has to authenticate, but with the password of the other user, in order to run anything.

The first ALL is the users allowed
The second one is the hosts
The third one is the user as you are running the command
The last one is the commands allowed
  • Thanks! In the meantime I found the "Defaults targetpw" entry in sudoers.. updated the Q May 7, 2015 at 16:37
  • @LoukiosValentine79 I just update the answer, does that answer your question?
    – poz2k4444
    May 7, 2015 at 18:24
  • wait he has to enter his own password not of the other user right?
    – evan54
    Feb 28, 2016 at 20:24
  • 1
    with targetpw the one of the other (target) user
    – x-yuri
    May 19, 2017 at 12:20

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