su: no shell solved: SUMMARY

From: J. Davis (
Date: Fri Feb 10 1995 - 09:03:35 CST

Thanks to those who responded to my question regarding the
su: no shell problem. The solution, thankfully, was simple.
I had checked directory permissions down through /usr/bin/sh
but had neglected to notice that '.' and '..' (ie, /) had
lost their world search privledges, not 0755.

Thanks to :

"Marc P. Rinfret" <> (Jordan)
Simon-Bernard Drolet <>,

whose responses appear below, in the order received:

In-Reply-To: Your message of "Thu, 09 Feb 1995 23:45:25 EST."
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 06:43:10 -0500
From: "Marc P. Rinfret" <>
Status: RO
X-Status: A

> Ok's a wierd one (guess they are ALL wierd
> before you figure them out!)
> One of our users on a solaris2.3 box (no NIS) tried to log
> in and got a 'no directory!' message, followed by another
> login: prompt. As a normal user, I myself got the same
> message, although my home directory is on a different file-
> system than the first user. OK. Login as root is fine. I
> start to check the 'obvious' things:

I had this one a while back. Are you sure the permissions are
correct? My problem was that a directory in the path (/) had
"lost" (!) its "search" permisssion (aka execute bit).

I solved that one by trussing 'su', and seeing that execlp (if I
remember correctly) was returning EACCESS. The execlp man
pages describes the situations where this error is returned.
> sys has no shell in /etc/passwd by default, but giving sys
> /bin/sh had no effect.

When not specified the default is /bin/sh.
> I'm hoping that someone has seen this before and can help
> me out. Any suggestions are welcome. Let me know if I need
> to supply more details, truss output, etc.

                                Hope this helps,

From: (Jordan)
Message-Id: <9502101350.AA09024@is000913.BELL-ATL.COM>
Subject: Re: su: No shell ??
Date: Fri, 10 Feb 1995 08:50:50 -0500 (EST)
In-Reply-To: <>
from "J. Davis" at Feb 9, 95 12:55:35 pm
X-Mailer: ELM [version 2.4 PL23]
Content-Type: text
Content-Length: 62

Have you check to make sure there is no /etc/nologin

From: Simon-Bernard Drolet <>
Message-Id: <199502101400.JAA04840@dino>
Subject: Re: su: no shell
X-Sun-Charset: US-ASCII

You should verify the ownership of /. It sould be own by root and the group
should also be root. Also, the protection should be 755.

I had the same problem last week-end. Your problem is that when
/etc/rc2.d/S21perf is doing a su -c sys ..., / is not own by root, so
su ... fails.


Regards, J.

*-------------------------------------------------------------------------* | J. Davis | email: | | SysMgr, research programmer | voice: (519) 646 6100 x4166 (rm H508) | | Lawson Research Institute | fax: (519) 646 6135 | | London, Ontario | | *-------------------------------------------------------------------------*

Bill Watterson, cartoonist: "Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us."


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