Disclaimer: I'm pretty novice at sysadmin stuff.

I'm trying to set up port forwarding in an AWS EC2 instance, this has to be done in the command-line because I don't want to go in and edit anything, it has to be automatic (it's part of a build process).

sudo echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf

Permission denied

The weird thing is I've been (successfully) using sudo for pretty much every command that required su privileges. If I do sudo su before the command (trying it out by hand in an ssh session), then it works.

Reasons behind this? Possible solutions that don't involve sudo su or manual edits?


5 Answers 5


You can't use sudo to affect output redirection; > and >> (and, for completeness, <) are effected with the privilege of the calling user, because redirection is done by the calling shell, not the called subprocess.

Either do

cp /etc/sysctl.conf /tmp/
echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" >> /tmp/sysctl.conf
sudo cp /tmp/sysctl.conf /etc/


sudo /bin/su -c "echo 'net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1' >> /etc/sysctl.conf"

You might find it simpler to use this command:

echo net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1 | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf

sudo runs only your command, not the redirect, as root. You'll need to wrap it all in a command where the whole thing runs as root:

sudo sh -c 'echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf'

The command sudo echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf is interpreted as that you (nonroot) write the result of sudo echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" into /etc/sysctl.conf.


sudo -s 'echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf'


sudo su -c 'echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf'

to run echo "net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" >> /etc/sysctl.conf as root.

sudo sed -i "$ a <text>" <file>
  • -i : edit file in place.
  • $ a: append text to the last line

Using sed command avoids you the hassle of redirections and pipelines.

In your case: sudo sed -i "$ a net.ipv4.ip_forward = 1" /etc/sysctl.conf

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