For the purposes of a bash script I need to prompt the user for the sudo password if it hasn't been entered yet (and if the user doesn't have sudo privileges at the time they run the script).

I first request the password with dialog password bog, and then feed it to sudo, like so:

SUDOPWD=$(dialog --title "Password" --clear --passwordbox "Enter your sudo password" 10 30  2>&1 > /dev/tty)

echo ${SUDOPWD} | sudo -Sn -v

But, alas, that does not work! Apparently -S (read password from stdin), and -n (non-interactive sudo) are not compatible! With -n present, the password being fed to sudo is ignored (and so no elevation occurs), and without it sudo prompts for re-entry if an incorrect password was entered.

Is there any way to validate sudo password without re-prompting for it if it's not the right one?

Inevitably someone will point out that one should not be re-inventing the wheel, and just use sudo's provided facility, or that feeding a password to sudo via a pipe has security implications. I'm aware of those factors, and still would like to do what I'm outlining above is it is possible. I also don't want to enter the commands in /etc/sudoers, recompile sudo (as the script should be somewhat portable), or disable sudo password prompt in general (just in this script).

I'm working on this on Ubuntu 16.04.

  • 1
    I suppose I can leave the -n switch out, and redirect all output to null.. echo ${SUDOPWD} | sudo -S -v &> /dev/null. It seems to work (if sudo prompt occurs, it doesn't seem to be holding things up). It's kind of a kludge, though.. any cleaner solutions?
    – Ville
    Feb 18, 2017 at 5:29
  • Related: askubuntu.com/questions/515292/…
    – Kusalananda
    Feb 18, 2017 at 7:57

1 Answer 1


You can determine if the user is already authenticated with sudo -vn 2>/dev/null

If they're not, you can use the following to ask for a password and pipe it into sudo.

printf '%s\n' "$(dialog --output-fd 1 --passwordbox "Enter password:" 10 30)" | \
sudo -Svp ''
  • --output-fd 1 tells dialog to output to STDOUT
  • printf is used to append a newline to the input, which is required for sudo -S
  • sudo -p '' uses '' as the password prompt message, hiding it

If you're cool with storing your output in a variable, you can just printf '%s\n' "${SUDOPWD}" and that should do it

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