SUMMARY: HELP! Non-root users can't access anything!

From: Admin Staff (
Date: Sun Oct 18 1998 - 00:23:23 CDT

I apologize for getting this message out in such haste that I overlooked
something. I completely freaked. When I saw the error, I checked the perms
on the user(s) home directory, their shell, and the root directory. I also
heard complaints about people not being able to write to /tmp, and that
looked fine as well. I verified uids, gids and that the passwd entries
were correct.

The /tmp problem threw me off. That's what caused me to check the perms on
the root directory only. I think that was falsely reported for its perms
were fine. At any rate, by that point I was thinking it was some exotic
kernel problem or runtime library problem. That's when I screamed for

At the last minute, I looked at /usr and /export and found there perms to
be 666. The problem (aside from the write perms) was no execute bit on
parent directories. Had I done a ls -l / instead of a ls -ald /, I would
have picked up the /usr and /export problems.

It turns out another admin executed a 'chmod 666 *r*' from / without
verifying their cwd. This explains why /tmp wasn't affected.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 17 Oct 1998 14:27:47 -0400 (EDT)
From: Admin Staff <>
To: Sun Managers <>
Subject: HELP! Non-root users can't access anything!

Out of the blue, a machine of mine won't allow any non root user to
access anything at all. They can't login because it can't cd them to their
home directory OR access their shell.

The permissions are FINE. The home dir is owned by the user and the shell
is executable by all. I can login as root and everything is where it
should be. There is a password file, shadow file. Authentication is
working. Here's what they get when they login:

No directory! Logging in with home=/
Last login: Sat Oct 17 18:12:09 on console
No shell
Connection closed by foreign host.

Everything seems to have the permissions set OK, even the root directory.
This just started happening out of the blue, the system has been up for
over a month and was running fine.

When this first started happening, I was already logged in and running
pine. Pine died saying that there was an access error on my mailbox. I
dropped to the shell. I could not run ANY commands, as they all said
permission denied.

Can someone please help? In 3+ years of systems administration, I've never
seen anything like it. It's almost as if a runtime library is on the


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