On my local host alpha I have a directory foo that is mapped via sshfs to host bravo as follows:

$ sshfs charlie@bravo:/home/charlie ~/foo

However, on host bravo there is another user, delta, that I want to sudo /bin/su as, so that I can do work in bravo:/home/delta. delta may not be logged into via ssh; for reasons which I cannot change, you can only sudo over to delta once you're on the machine.

Normally I'd ssh into bravo, then sudo to delta, but I'm wondering if there's any way that I can do that when I've got charlie's home dir mounted via ssh.

  • 2
    This may be best solved with file permissions.
    – artifex
    Jul 8, 2010 at 7:53

7 Answers 7


This will vary depending on the OS of the server you are connecting to. For centOS 5 you would add to the sshfs mount options:

-o sftp_server="/usr/bin/sudo /usr/libexec/openssh/sftp-server"

For Ubuntu 9.10 (I think, might be 9.04, but it's probably the same for both) or Debian you would add:

-o sftp_server="/usr/bin/sudo /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server".

To find an the correct path for other systems running openSSH run

sudo grep Subsystem /etc/ssh/sshd_config

and look for the location of the sftp-server binary.

You might need to setup sudo with NOPASS:{path to sftp-server} or prevalidate with ssh user@host sudo -v so that sudo has a updated timestamp for notty. In my case, my two commands were:

ssh login_user@host sudo -v
sshfs login_user@host:remote_path local_path -o sftp_server="/usr/bin/sudo -u as_user /usr/lib/ssh/sftp-server"
  • 1
    Thanks, this is a very neat 'trick'. I just added a "-u <some_other_user>" to the sudo for my situation
    – jor
    Nov 17, 2010 at 9:12
  • 1
    Very good, worked flawlessly. My only point is that there is /usr/bin/sudo twice in the example, which seems unnecessary.
    – xaralis
    Aug 1, 2012 at 8:31
  • 1
    @Craisis Sorry to bring up old post, but I want to ssh into a CentOS 6.5 server with a basic user, but mount a folder that's root access only. Would this be correct: sshfs basicuser@remotehost:remote_path local_mount_path -o sftp_server="/usr/bin/sudo -u root /usr/libexec/openssh/sftp-server"?
    – Don Rhummy
    Jan 30, 2014 at 21:57
  • 2
    ssh host sudo -v doesn't make my sudo happy - it wants a tty before it lets me sudo. Thoughts?
    – w00t
    May 30, 2014 at 18:03
  • 2
    @eggo @Sebi @calandoa @xaralis Do this command work also if I want to sudo as root in debian 9 ? Because if I use: ssh -t myuser@host sudo -v sshfs myuser@host:remote_path local_path -o sftp_server="/usr/bin/sudo -u root /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server" it doesn't work :\ - it just says "remote hosts has disconnected" Nov 6, 2018 at 18:09

You can use bindfs + sshfs to access other user files (even root).

Firstly you mount your 'root' or any other directory under your user with remapped uid.

ssh -t USER@SERVER "mkdir ~/tmproot; sudo bindfs --map=root/USER / ~/tmproot"

and then simply sshfs into the directory.

sshfs USER@SERVER:tmproot TARGET

But for security it's better to not map whole root / but only part that you need. For example: You can use this method to mount any other user directory to your, for example files from /var/www into ~/www and remap root into your user so you will have full access to it.

If you need access to preserve uid or have access to multiple users then i would create a new user for example "rootfs" with uid=0 and /bin/false and do a normal sshfs.

  • Though this is the best solution IMO, bindfs is not avialable by default on linux systems.
    – Akhil
    Mar 25 at 13:24

By deduction, I think this is impossible to achieve in a simple command.

This is because sshfs calls ssh without passing any command but, instead, uses SFTP which is a subsystem of SSH.

From the sshfs manpage:

On the remote computer the SFTP subsystem of SSH is used.

Plus, changing the current user (or 'su' or 'sudo') is not part of the SFTP protocol, though this seems like a very often requested feature.

  • this is not impossible. Craisis's solution works.
    – Jayen
    Dec 25, 2011 at 3:09
  • Of course yes, since he overrides the command that starts the subsystem and adds sudo. Good finding but you have to set up sudo without a password (or use a timestamp), which may decrease security. but I won't argue since OP really wanted to do that.
    – Weboide
    Jan 6, 2012 at 14:13

You might try (but I don't think it will work):

sshfs -o ssh_command='ssh sudo /bin/su bravo' charlie@bravo:/home/charlie ~/foo

I don't understand sshfs very well, so you might be able to get something like that to work, but I couldn't say how, and I would be a little surprised.

Another possibility is to put the command 'sudo /bin/su bravo' in ~/.ssh/rc, but that would affect all of your fs mountings (assuming it worked, which I also doubt) as well as your normal use of ssh.

Sorry for being a debbie downer.

  • It does not work. The @Craisis's answer is the proper one.
    – eNca
    Mar 8, 2020 at 20:10

Probably, the best way is through file permissions, as @artifex proposes.

As @Weboide says, it is impossible through sshfs.

But I guess you could create a simple script, let's call it sudossh that will take your $PWD, convert it to /home/delta/ and run the command through ssh and sudo on the remote machine.

Something like this:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

ssh -t charlie@bravo "cd `pwd | sed 's/user\/foo/delta/'`; sudo -u delta $*"

After that you can execute sudossh command and remember to use relative paths.

If you use ssh-agent, you just have to enter your sudo password.


You can sed your way into /etc/ssh/sshd_config to find where sftp-server is, and then run it with sudo. The advantage of using this is that it will work on servers running different distros, as long as ssh_config is in the same place.

sshfs -o sftp_server='/usr/bin/env sudo "$(sed -nE "/^[[:blank:]]*[Ss][Uu][Bb][Ss][Yy][Ss][Tt][Ee][Mm][[:blank:]]+sftp[[:blank:]]+/{s///;s/[[:blank:]]*(|#.*)$//;p;q}" /etc/ssh/sshd_config)"' "$@"

I ended up with this universal one-liner:

sshfs -o sftp_server="/usr/bin/sudo '$(grep sftp-server /etc/ssh/sshd_config | awk -F" " "{print \$3}")' "

This should be basically equivalent to André Kugland's answer, but more readable. It uses:

  1. awk to get the SFTP submodule config line's 3rd column (path):

grep sftp-server /etc/ssh/sshd_config | awk -F" " "{print \$3}"

  1. single quotes to avoid variable expansion on the client machine

"/usr/bin/sudo '$(grep sftp-server /etc/ssh/sshd_config | awk -F" " "{print \$3}")' "

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