Broke sudo trying to give permissions to windows partition

I messed up my system pretty bad trying to change the permissions on my Windows partition in order to gain access to my Steam games. This is just the most recent thing I did, so may not be completely related but I’m pretty sure I broke something with chown -R. Maybe I typed the wrong directory while trying to do this…

As of now, I’m getting a black screen with a flashing cursor on boot and this error in console when trying to use sudo:

sudo: /usr/bin/sudo must be owned by the uid 0 and have the setuid bit set

ll / shows that my user owns /boot, /lost+found, /mnt, /opt, and /var which I’m pretty sure isn’t normal. User also own /usr/bin/sudo, obviously. I won’t name them all, but there are more.

su gives me an su: authentication failure and trying to chown without sudo, I get ...operation not permitted

Am I beyond fixing this at this point, or is there something I can do?

Edit: please let me know if there is any more info I should provide. I would have provided the standard logs for the forums, but there was no easy way to do that. But I’ll find a way if anyone thinks any logs would help.

sudo chown -R can be a sure way to hell if one isn’t 100% aware of one’s doings.
I know that during the dark ages messengers with bad news often got killed on the spot.
Yet, I’d recommend a clean reinstall in your case. :wink:


I have bad news and more bad news for you.

The first is that you can’t use chown to change the ownership of ntfs/fat32/exfat files in the first place. You do that via mount options.

The other bad news is that your system is now very broken. It is possible to fix it but it won’t be all that easy and you will likely forever wonder if whatever issue you have in the future is caused by lingering issues from this mistake.

My advice would be to backup your data and reinstall.


Yeah, I figured as much. Thank you both, and @ivanhoe I’m more inclined toward taking out kings than messengers :wink:

This leaves me with two questions:

  1. Is it possible to mark two answers as the solution. And if not, how do we decide? Battle to the death?

  2. Should I make a new post asking for advice on best practices for not losing everything, or just ask here?

I know, that’s more than two questions…


@dalto said to back up important data. :wink:

Only one and you will need to choose one yourself unfortunately. :wink:

It is fine to ask here(For the record, it would also be fine to start a new topic). It would help if you could list your primary goals for what you want to retain.

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For sure. Just wanted to see where the best place to start the conversation was first. I’m gonna give what I need some thought and then probably make a new post. Thank you both again for the quick replies.


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