I had the unfortunate experience to lock myself out from using sudo on my NAS server.

All I wanted to do was give my user permission to run smartctl, which usually requires root privileges. This can be achieved by editing the /etc/sudoers file.

However I did not use visudo for this task. After removing the pound sign from the #include statement – which, let’s be honest, looks like a comment that needs to be uncommented – I saved the file and closed it.
At this moment visudo would have raised an error, if I had used it, and prevented me from saving the invalid sudoers file.

Long story short I was locked out from using the sudo command. After booting into a Linux live/rescue image from USB I could fix the syntax error in /etc/sudoers.

The moral of the whole story, better use visudo when editing /etc/sudoers.

That’s it.


  1. https://www.sudo.ws/docs/man/1.8.13/sudoers.man/#SUDOERS_FILE_FORMAT
  2. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/30895493/using-smartctl-without-sudo
  3. https://toroid.org/sudoers-syntax