I block all Internet traffic for my kids' Linux accounts using iptables. Sometimes I want to allow them to use one program or another. In such cases I enable them to run that programs as another(unlimited) user via sudoers. This time I tried to enable them to use translate-shell and mpg123 for playing sounds/pronouncing translated words:

kiddy ALL= (daddy) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/trans

However running sudo -u daddy trans en:he -speak -player mpg123 apple as kiddy user shows correct translation in the terminal but doesn't play the sound, stating: "Voice output isn't available for English". Once I log in as daddy in Gnome and run the same command: trans en:he -speak -player mpg123 apple - everything works as expected and I get both the textual translation and the sound playback. Both users belong to the audio group. I tried this approach but id didn't help. I am on Debian 12 and neither on Wayland nor on Xorg there is no file $HOME/.Xauthority which was used for that solution...

How can I cause the translate-shell to playback audio via sudo as another user?

3 Answers 3


Audio devices on modern system are managed by pipewire which has a socket in your /run/user directory. In order for the sudo:ed process to access the current session's pipewire instance, you would need to allow it access to the socket $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR/pipewire-0. The socket itself is normally open to anyone, but $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR is not.

A command sequence that would work would be

chmod a+x $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR
sudo -u daddy  XDG_RUNTIME_DIR=$XDG_RUNTIME_DIR trans en:he -speak -player mpg123 apple

Do consider, however, that you are opening $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR to anyone here which you might not want.

  • 1
    thank you! Is adding write permissions w indeed needed? Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 19:12
  • chmod 705 $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR seems to be enough, but setting $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR inside sudo cause it to complain and exit. Commented Sep 9, 2023 at 20:28
  • Good point, others don't need w, nor r for that matter. I updated the suggestion for any future visitors. If the group or others need the extra x bit depends on if kiddy and daddy share any group or not. You could have had a family group! :-) Commented Sep 10, 2023 at 20:38

Based on Göran Uddeborg's answer I did this:

  1. chmod 705 $XDG_RUNTIME_DIR
  2. using sudo visudo I added these lines:
Defaults:kiddy env_keep += "XDG_RUNTIME_DIR"
kiddy   ALL= (daddy) NOPASSWD: /usr/bin/trans

Now it works!


The XDG_RUNTIME_DIR instruction did not get me the end result, but a much simpler and neater instruction did:

$ sudo adduser user audio
$ sudo adduser user pulse
$ sudo adduser user pulse-access

Here, the user would be the daddy from the original answer, where the kiddy wants to sudo execute an app as a daddy, and have audio working.

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