Monday, March 19, 2007

su : could not open session

[root@termtest etc]# su nagios
could not open session
[root@termtest etc]#

Problem, unable to su to a different account. When you login as root and try to access a different account by issuing the su command you get the error “could not open session”.

Today this problem occurred on one of the redhat Linux servers after restoring the /etc/passwd and the /etc/shadow file from backup. The problem is that the permissions on the /etc/passwd file are not set correctly.

If you experience this problem and you do a check on the file you will most likely see something similar as in this example:

[root@termtest etc]# ls -rtl
-rw------- 1 root root 1871 Mar 6 16:35 passwd
[root@termtest etc]#

The correct permission on the file should be:
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1871 Mar 6 16:35 passwd

To correct this you should invoke the chmod command to change the permissions on the file.

[root@ termtest etc]# chmod 644 passwd

This will solve the problem and will enable you to su to an other user.
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