SUMMARY: suddenly cannot login with Gnome

From: Christopher L. Barnard <>
Date: Mon Nov 21 2005 - 17:15:01 EST
I asked:

> I am not sure of the root cause of this failure.  I am including
> everything I can think of, but not all may be relevant.
> Users of Sun Blade 150 running Solaris 9 in an NIS environment cannot log
> on to their workstation with the Gnome desktop.  This first started on
> Tuesday.
> These are NIS client desktops.  The NIS Master server was patched and
> rebooted on Wednesday morning (1am or so).  The NIS Slave server was
> patched and rebooted Monday evening.  This environment only has these
> two NIS servers.
> Users who were already logged in when the patching occurred are fine.  If
> they log out they cannot log back in, however.
> When a user attempts to log in with Gnome 2.0, Gnome 1.4, or KDE, their
> desktop will sit forever at the black screen right after the login box.
> Command-line logins are working fine.
> Logging in with CDE is working fine.
> Logging in with Gnome on a system that has been patched but is an NIS slave
> server or master server is working fine.
> On my NIS client workstation, I did a command-line login and wiped out all
> of my gnome configuration files (sniff.  I have to rebuild them all now).
> That did not help.
> I enabled logging in my .dtprofile.  Nothing is logged other than "Starting
> GNOME 2.0"
> Sun Support is stumped.  I am one of the users who cannot login, and where
> I am now working does not have www access.  So I am unable to determine if
> any of the patches are known to have problems.  As you can see, it is quite
> a few patches.
> 111711-14/        113077-15/        115544-02/        117124-10/
> 111712-14/        113277-36/        115683-03/        118305-05/
> 112621-12/        113318-22/        116009-05/        118558-14/
> 112764-08/        113713-21/        116014-04/        119211-05/
> 112785-52/        114332-23/        116047-02/        120464-01/
> 112817-25/        114564-08/        116340-04/
> 112838-11/        114571-02/        116543-04/
> 112945-39/        114818-06/        116669-11/
> 112954-13/        115158-09/        116807-02/
> 112964-14/        115542-02/        117123-04/
> Can anyone suggest other things to try?  TIA and I will summarize.

The solution:

The root of the problem was in fact the NIS slave server for this
environment.  But it wasn't an NIS problem, it was an NFS problem.  Kudos
to those who suggested NFS fixes even though I hadn't mentioned that.
This NIS and NFS server exports home directories.  On reboot, it did not
start up rc3.d/S15nfs.server properly.  So clients that had their home
directories mounted before the NFS server was rebooted were able to
reconnect when the server came back up.  But new conneections failed.

Unfortunately, this is where it gets wierd.  Even though we do not use any
cachefs (or even nscd), If an individual workstation still had a "mount"
of a home directory in /home it would appear ok.  It was only when you
tried to do something new... read a file in that mount, create a new file,
etc., that the desktop machine would hang.  CDE will apparently start up
without reading or writing any files.  KDE and Gnome apparently do either
read or write a file in the home directory of the user starting up.  It
hung because of an NFS timeout (my guess).  2nd shift was able to find
this problem on the NFS server and reboot it again.  The problem is

Adding these two lines to your .dtprofile and .profile (modify for csh if
its .cshrc) will solve the initial login problem:

export TMPDIR

Thanks to:

Debbie Tropiano <>
Paul Gress <>
Will Dowling <>
William M. Fennell <>

| Christopher L. Barnard         O     When I was a boy I was told that |
|         / \    anybody could become president.  |
| (312) 347-4901               O---O   Now I'm beginning to believe it. |
|                --Clarence Darrow |
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Received on Mon Nov 21 17:40:37 2005

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