Is it possible, on Linux or on BSD systems, to customize the sudo "this incident will be reported" message? I've gone over man sudo and man sudoers on an Ubuntu 16.04 machine, a FreeBSD 10.2 machine, and a Fedora 23 machine, and I haven't found anything useful.


2 Answers 2


From Sudoers Manual below is the only message you are allowed to configure with the sudo conf.

badpass_message="Sorry, try again."

However to answer your question you are more than welcome to compile your own copy of sudo.

This would be the message you are getting.

  • 12
    Ah, the beauty of open source. Don't like something? Change it yourself!
    – phyrfox
    May 12, 2016 at 16:48
  • 4
    "Change sudo!" but I don't know how! "sudo change sudo!" okay.
    – user541686
    May 13, 2016 at 6:20

In some sense this message is already customisable because, as for many parts of GNU/Linux, sudo is internationalised and uses gettext Native Language Support to look up most strings to replace them by a locale version in a different language.

For example, you can see the French language file here which has entries:

msgid "%s is not in the sudoers file.  This incident will be reported.\n"
msgstr "%s n'apparaît pas dans le fichier sudoers. Cet événement sera signalé.\n"

msgid "%s is not allowed to run sudo on %s.  This incident will be reported.\n"
msgstr "%s n'est pas autorisé à exécuter sudo sur %s. Cet événement sera signalé.\n"

So, to change the message you need to specify for which language/locale? and edit the appropriate NLS file. However, the user may not be using a locale, so this will have no effect.

Alternatively, you can use a binary editor to replace the string in /usr/libexec/sudo/sudoers.so, where it occurs, by a string of exactly the same size and with the same number of %s parameters. As this will no longer match for gettext translation, it will apply to all locales. Eg

sed < /usr/libexec/sudo/sudoers.so 's/This incident will be reported/This incident WILL BE REPORTED/' >/tmp/sudoers.so
cmp -l /usr/libexec/sudo/sudoers.so /tmp/sudoers.so

Use cmp to ensure you haven't corrupted the file.

  • Surely we can make it a different length by recompiling sudo?
    – gerrit
    May 12, 2016 at 13:46
  • @gerrit yes, the best solution would be to edit the source and recompile the program.
    – meuh
    May 12, 2016 at 14:24
  • 3
    You could make the message shorter by padding with nul characters, since C uses nul-terminated strings. May 13, 2016 at 2:44
  • @NateEldredge Good point.
    – meuh
    May 13, 2016 at 5:59

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