When I need to edit files with superuser privileges, like those in
etc directory, I used to do:
$ sudo vim /etc/hosts
This launches the editor with root privileges.
I recently learnt that there is a safer and more elegant way do this: using
sudoedit. This makes a temporary copy of the file you want to edit in
/tmp and opens it in your favorite editor with normal user privileges. After you save the file, the original file is replaced with the updated copy.
To do this:
$ sudoedit /etc/hosts
$ sudo -e /etc/hosts
Tried with: Ubuntu 14.04