Note: recover from accidentally changed the ownership of `sudo` command


This morning, I change to the /backup directory and found I cannot write in it. So I rapidly typed sudo chown -R david:david .. then press Enter. You know what happened! All the files in / directory were changing the owner to me! I realized this by seeing an error message like "You cannot change the owner of xxx file to david".

Damn, how silly I was! Unfortunately, that was not the end of my bad luck. When I try to revert it by typing sudo chown -R root:root /, I got another error message: /usr/bin/sudo must be owned by uid 0 and have the setuid bit set. Then I tried su - root but it seems that I haven't set a root password.

How can I recover my pop! OS?

  1. reboot it into single-user mode, edit the boot menu, add at the end of the boot line.
  2. In the boot console, chown -R root:root /usr; chmod 4755 /usr/bin/{sudo,dpkg,pkexec,crontab}; reboot

Rather easy, right? It did cost me over 10mins! PS. I met many issues later after recovering from the accident. One of them is that the crontab command did not work as usual. I have to run the instruction below to fix it.

sudo apt reinstall cron

Linux is also fragile, please don't be such silly thing next time. I told myself. PS: This time I also set a root password as well, so next time I could run su - root directly instead of going to the single user mode.