In a general term runing bash, when I run a sudo ... command, bash will remember my password for a while. This makes package management task easier.

For example:

sudo apt-get update
# password ......
sudo apt-get install turing-brain
# execute without requiring password again.

Is it possible to accomplish it in eshall?

(I know term or ansi-term in Emacs can do this. But eshell integrate better with Emacs.)

2 Answers 2


First of all check which sudo is executed in your eshell session. It can be your system’s sudo:

$ which sudo
$ which *sudo

or eshell’s sudo:

$ which sudo
sudo is a compiled Lisp function in `em-tramp.el'
$ which eshell/sudo
eshell/sudo is a compiled Lisp function in `em-tramp.el'

Eshell’s sudo uses TRAMP's su or sudo method. These commands are in the eshell-tramp module, which is disabled by default.

I will cover eshell’s sudo case, because it is internal to Emacs and it does not depend on your OS distro:

  1. Load eshell-tramp module:

    (require 'em-tramp) ; to load eshell’s sudo
  2. Switch to eshell’s sudo

    • by prefering built-in commands

      (setq eshell-prefer-lisp-functions t)

      It seems that in Emacs 24.4 we need to set

      (setq eshell-prefer-lisp-variables t)
    • by creating an alias (execute snippet in eshell)

      alias sudo 'eshell/sudo $*'

      Aliases defined (or deleted) by the alias command are automatically written to the file named by eshell-aliases-file, which you can also edit directly (although you will have to manually reload it).

  3. Finally enable password caching for eshell’s sudo (and TRAMP):

    (setq password-cache t) ; enable password caching
    (setq password-cache-expiry 3600) ; for one hour (time in secs)

PS If you have changed your prompt with eshell-prompt-function, then remember to adjust prompt regex eshell-prompt-regexp accordingly. Wrong prompt regex can break some eshell functionality — including password detection.

  • After following these instructions, which sudo still displays /usr/bin/sudo on my system. Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 15:51
  • Did you test it with a fresh eshell buffer? IIRC current eshell session will not pick up changes.
    – kmicu
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 18:59
  • Yes. I restarted emacs daemon and open a new client. Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 20:30
  • After shallow testing I see that (setq eshell-prefer-lisp-variables t) is required in emacs 24.4. @Boccaperta-IT can you confirm if it works for you?
    – kmicu
    Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 0:05
  • Not working, still /usr/bin/sudo (I'm using Emacs, though) Commented Dec 23, 2014 at 8:13

To get sudo working in Emacs 26 (probably the same for Emacs 25) without making an alias I had to add eshell-tramp to eshell-modules-list.

(add-to-list 'eshell-modules-list 'eshell-tramp)
  • also need to (require 'esh-module)
    – nymo
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 17:43
  • @nymo looks like we no longer need (require 'esh-module) with recent versions of Emacs (27.1+, I think) (I also updated TRAMP to the latest release through GNU ELPA in case that has anything to do with it).
    – mtraceur
    Commented May 5, 2023 at 19:53
  • I've simply added (add-hook 'eshell-load-hook (lambda () (add-to-list 'eshell-modules-list 'eshell-tramp))) and it's sufficient to get everything running whenever eshell is started. Commented May 12, 2023 at 20:50

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