Summary: No shell problem resolved

From: Jian Liu (
Date: Sun Jan 16 1994 - 21:30:05 CST

Hi all,

Since I am sending this out from my ordinary account, you
know that the problem is resolved. What a relief! :-)

Here is the description of the problem and its solution.
You veterans will laugh at me and say how ignorant I am,
I guess. But I want to make this a learning experience
for novices like me, so that they will never have to
pull their hairs over such a trivial and stupid problem.

Before I start, I would also like to make a plea that
we share our horror stories like this. It is always
gratifying to share our success stories. But horror
stories can also serve their purposes. Don't you think
so? If you would like to send in your stories, I will
summarize. Thanks.

Here is what happened.

Basically, I suddenly could not login to any of the ordinary
accounts on my machine. Only root can login and do things.
There is a gopher server running on this machine, it still
could run but some menus disappeared. In my first message,
I said I didn't do much before this happened, except that
I chmod 766 to two files under /tmp. At that time, I didn't
pay attention to this apparantly innocent change, but it turned
out the devil was hiding here, waiting for me. :-( It happened
that I was in root, and the command I used was chmod 766 .* because
the two files began with a dot. Now I understand that in the
/tmp directory, there is a file called (yes, now you see the
studipity :-)) .., which matched the pattern .* and it happened
that .. refers to the root directoy / and you know what would
happen now, right? After I realized this, I issued the command
chmod 755 .* under /tmp, as root, and everything was back to
normal, but not after about 3 hours hair pulling, though.

Because of the vagueness of the question, I only received three
responses, and that after the problem was fixed. One of the
responses, from Gary Mills <>, was right
on the target: check permission on root, or other directories
with insufficient permissions. Good for you, Gary.

Thanks also go to
Peter Gross <>
Jun Wu <> (Hi, Jun. Yes, it is me,
                                       who else? :-)

Now that I've shared my story. Don't forget to let me have
yours. :-)

Indiana University Libraries

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