Run/Debug as root in PyCharm

Run/Debug as root in PyCharm

I'm working on a Python project that needs to run as root in order to work properly. Previously I've just run the whole PyCharm IDE as root, but this has some down-sides, and I think I have a better approach now.

The biggest hassle with running the IDE as root is with file permissions. I tend to jump back and forth between the command line and the IDE, but if I do version control operations, or just add new files within the IDE, they naturally are owned by root, and are inaccessible from the terminal running with my normal user account. Of course, I could run the terminal as root, but at some point, it starts to sound like a bad idea.

How To

So here is a way to run code as root, without running the whole IDE that way. More detailed explanations are lower on the page.

Don't require a password running sudo python

sudo visudo -f /etc/sudoers.d/python

Add a line of the form:

<user> <host> = (root) NOPASSWD: <full path to python>

For example:

eric V-LU-ERSM = (root) NOPASSWD: /home/eric/Envs/my-project/bin/python

Create a sudo script

Call the script, containing (with your correct full python path):

sudo /home/eric/Envs/my-project/bin/python "$@"

Be sure to make the script executable:

chmod +x

Use the script as your Python interpreter

In PyCharm, go to Settings > Project Interpreter. Click the gear icon by the current Project Interpreter drop-down, and choose "Add…". Then choose Existing environment. Browse to and select it, and set it as the interpreter for the project.

Now when you run or debug, the code will run as root.

Update: Sam Mayer created a sample workspace on GitHub that uses this strategy, which you might find helpful.

More details

If you don't use the NOPASSWD option, it could still technically work, but it would be kind of annoying as you'd have to provide your password on every run. If you run PyCharm from a terminal window, the sudo prompts appear there, not anywhere within PyCharm.

Also, when adding the shell script as an interpreter, PyCharm apparently executes it multiple times because the terminal is spammed with password prompts.


PyCharm isn't very patient in waiting for some of those executions, so even if you enter your password, its call to figure out the Python interpreter's version might fail, and it will say it is an "Unknown" version.

The /etc/sudoers.d/python file must use a full path to the python executable. In my case, I'm setting things up to point at a virtual environment, but you could use the system python instead.

There are couple of things to note about the script itself. First, its name must start with "python". Second, the "$@" in the script just passes the script's received arguments straight through to Python, so that when PyCharm starts with debugging options, those are correctly forwarded.

When adding the script as an interpreter, PyCharm doesn't seem to want to keep it unless it is set as the interpreter for the project. All signs will indicate that you could have that as an independent interpreter, but if you close the Settings dialog and reopen it, that interpreter will be gone. I'm not sure if that is a PyCharm bug. The reason this is interesting is that you could leave your normal interpreter for the project, and pick the sudo interpreter within the Run/Debug Configuration dialog for the configuration that needs to be run as root.

As it is, you sort of have to do the opposite: The sudo python interpreter is the default, and if you have other entry points you'd like to not run as root, you can pick the "plain" interpreter for those.

Update: A down-side to this strategy is that PyCharm can't generally stop the process -- so if you click the "stop" button in the debugger, it will detach but the process continues running. The debugger prints the process id to the console when starting, though, so you can use that to know what to kill.