I have a script that does various things, and among those things, it prompts the user for a password, stores it in the $password parameter and the executes this command:

ssh [host] 'cd someDir; echo "$password" | sudo -u nobody -S <command>'

The problem is that I get the error Sorry, try again and then the connection gets killed.

How can I execute a sudo command using ssh? It works if I first connect to the remote host and then run echo 'password_string' | sudo -u nobody -S <command>


1 Answer 1


You should try debugging/troubleshooting.  Change your current ssh command to

ssh host 'cd someDir; echo "The password is $password"'

You’ll get

The password is 
Now try
echo host 'cd someDir; echo "The password is $password"'
You’ll get

host cd someDir; echo "The password is $password"

On your ssh command, you’ve got $password surrounded by double quotes, and surrounded by single quotes around that.  Well, that turns the double quotes into plain, ordinary characters — no more syntactically significant than if you’d typed LDQ and RDQ — so $password is effectively wrapped in single quotes.  So $password gets sent to the remote host, and not the value of $password (i.e., the actual password).  Then the shell on the remote host tries to expand $password to a value, and it gets nothing, because that variable has not been set in that shell.

A command that might work is

ssh host 'cd someDir; echo "'"$password"'" | sudo -u nobody -S command'

Let’s examine that, adding spaces for illustration/clarity:

            … '…; echo "'    "$password"    '" | sudo …'

This still has the double quotes inside single quotes.  But, after specifying the literal double quote (after echo), it breaks out of the single quotes, so variable expansion/replacement can occur on the local command.  Then we have $password in double quotes.  Then we go back into single quotes for the second literal double quote, the vertical bar (|), and the sudo command.

Caveat: I don't currently have access to a host I can ssh into, so I haven’t completely tested this.


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