0. Preface

This is a very different post than the usual HackTheBox/VulnHub write-ups on this site. I managed to brick my Kali VM while testing out an exploit locally, which unfortunately, involves manually editing /etc/sudoers.

I realised I done goofed when I couldn’t run sudo, and I also didn’t set a password for the root user.

…and the last snapshot of the VM was taken a month ago.

Note that there will be some swearing involved.

1. How to Goof

Simply (and stupidly), editing your /etc/sudoers file without testing it out using visudo first.

If you edit /etc/sudoers via visudo, it will warn you if you made a mistake, and will ask you what to do next.


Stupidly, I just ran the following:

sudo sed -i -e '$akali ALL=[ALL:ALL] NOPASSWD:ALL' /etc/sudoers

Notice the mistake?

It’s supposed to be ( ) instead of [ ].

And this is when you know you’ve fucked up.


Now you can P A N I C.

2. The Fix

I desperately tried to su root with every password I can think of, but of course, it doesn’t work because there’s no password set in the first place.


So, I tried to boot into single user mode in the hopes that I can edit /etc/sudoers with the root user.

To do so, I had to edit the bootloader script.


Press e to edit.

Find the following line and add a 1 behind it.

linux	/boot/vmlinuz-5.7.0-kali3-amd64 root=UUID=114c498f-de75-44bb-a5ec-6339282d4171 ro quiet splash


Press Ctrl+X to boot.


F u c k.

Cue more P A N I C.

After some research, I found that you could append init=/bin/bash instead, and change ro to rw to boot into bash directly with a writable filesystem.





Now to revert the sudoers file, this time using visudo.


Next to power off the machine and boot it again normally.


Lesson learnt.