How to set visudo to use a different editor than the default on Fedora?
Fedora 14 uses vi by default when one runs visudo. Is there a way to change this to something else?
Defaults editor=/path/to/editor in the sudoers file will cause visudo to use the specified editor for changes.
Additionally, if your sudo package has been built with –with-env-editor, as is the default on some Linux distributions, you can also set the EDITOR environment variable by executing
export EDITOR=/path/to/editor. Performed on the command line this will revert as soon as that shell session is terminated, setting the variable in a ~/.bashrc or /etc/profile will cause the change to persist.
A normal unix program that wants to invoke an editor will run the program whose name is in the
VISUAL environment variable, and if the variable is unset, a system-dependent default. Many, but not all, programs check both
VISUAL; the distinction is long obsolete (once you would run
EDITOR on a teletype and
VISUAL on a “glass” terminal…) so you should set both to the same value. There is some disagreement as to whether the contents of the variable should be the full path to an executable, an executable name that’s looked up in
$PATH, or a shell snippet, so you should stick to a path to an executable not containing any shell metacharacter. The system default when neither variable is set is traditionally
vi, though some distributions have changed this to a more newbie-friendly editor such as
visudo checks both
EDITOR (this can be compiled out, presumably to dissuade root from using an editor whose security the distribution maker doesn’t trust, but even OpenBSD doesn’t do this).
These steps let me set the editor to vi for visudo on Ubuntu 12.04, they may work for other distributions:
This opens up the sudoers file in nano. Near the top you will see this line:
Add the following line beneath the above line:
Save the file and exit. Reopen visudo as your default user:
The sudoers file now opens up in VI.
- works for distros that use
alternatives(originally just Debian and its forks, but now most major distros, IIUC).
has the advantage that
- you won’t need to edit
sudoersfirst with its default editor
- it works even if package=
sudohas not been built with
- you won’t need to edit
From a commandline:
sudo update-alternatives --config editor
- Choose desired editor from the (text-mode) menu. If you don’t see the editor you want, you probably need to install it; cancel, do that, and repeat.
sudo visudo should now open the editor of your choice.
visudo uses the
EDITOR variable, for example.
sudo EDITOR=/path/to/editor visudo
IMPO the best way to do this is to have each user set their own preferred editor using the
VISUAL environment variables in their own
.bashrc file (or the equivalent for their preferred shell), then tell
sudo to respect those variables.
So you would add this to
## Respect the user's choice of editors Defaults env_keep += "EDITOR VISUAL"
Then add this to
# e.g. if you want to use micro EDITOR=micro VISUAL=micro
For the distinction between
VISUAL and why I think it’s best to set both, see this answer.
sudo visudo should use the user’s preferred editor for all users.