Ubuntu: Difference between cat and sudo cat? [duplicate]


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Can you tell me what the difference is between cat and sudo cat?

All I know so far is that cat is used for displaying contents of file and concatenation.


For a little humour I would say that cat is an animal and sudo cat is a feline with superpowers. :D

sudo is a command that you use to obtain root privileges. root is a special user that manages the machine, and for this he/she has superpowers. For example, if there is a file that only root can see its contents, and you are logged in as a normal user, you can use

$ sudo cat name_of_the_file  

to read it. Also if there is a program that only root can run, like the reboot command:

$ reboot  warning: must be root!  $ sudo reboot  rebooting...........  

THE CATCH IS: you must be specially (and manually) assigned by root to have permission to use sudo. The permission is given in a file called /etc/sudoers. In Ubuntu, the first user, the one created during install, is automatically a sudoer. But the subsequent users are not. You have to add them manually to the group sudo whose members are allowed to use the command sudo.

By the way, /etc/sudoers is a file that only root can see. So if you do

$ cat /etc/sudoers  

you will not be able to see its contents. But if you do:

$ sudo cat /etc/sudoers  

you are good.

Hope this helps.


Cat is a standard unix utiliy and a most frequently used command which concatenate files and print on the standard output.

You may open a terminal (press CTRL+ATL+T) & type man cat to know more about the command and its usage.

Further, the difference between cat & using sudo cat;

  • cat - Frequently & the standard command in use to print an output
  • sudo cat - Which prints an output with root privilege. This is mostly needed when a file doesn't have read access for certain user/users but not limited to root user.


-rw------- 2 root root 4096 996 Feb  6 20:39 log.txt  

Above seen is a file which only a root user (or a user who's within root group) can read/write. In such situation you will need to use sudo cat filename to print the output.

Assume it helped you to understand more.!


cat is used to read a file; sudo is used for super user privileges. So sudo cat means read the file with super user (that is, root) privileges.

Note:If u also have question or solution just comment us below or mail us on toontricks1994@gmail.com
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