su not working

Discussion in 'HOWTO-Related Questions' started by KenKnight, Sep 10, 2008.

  1. KenKnight

    KenKnight Member

    Hi all,

    I've got one of the debian sarge perfect install vm's running and su is not working properly. I've googled the problem and haven't found any answers that are working.

    I built the same HOWTO from scratch and (debian sarge) and it is working fine.

    Right now any time I type su username it does nothing. Any suggestions?

  2. jon

    jon Member

    have you verified that su is installed? Try (as root) aptitude search ~i su
  3. KenKnight

    KenKnight Member

    Yes, it is installed. I can type su --help and it returns help. I can type su username and it "acts" like it is doing something, but if I create a directory next, it is still created as the root.

  4. jon

    jon Member

    what exactly are you typing?
  5. KenKnight

    KenKnight Member


    I'm logged in as root and I type;

    su username

    replace username with a valid username. Again this works on a physical machine built using the debian sarge perfect setup, but is not working on the downloaded vm.

  6. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    Strange. Do you see any errors in the logs?
  7. KenKnight

    KenKnight Member


    here is what I've determined at this point.

    1) if i issue the "su usename" then the auth.log is reporting session opened for user "username" by root (or whatever uid).

    2) If I immediately create a directory it is being created as root.

    3) if I type exit and then hit enter, the auth.log is reporting that the session was closed.

    If I do this same routine on my main box (not vm), it works just fine and after the su username command I'm seeing that I'm logged in as that user.

    Any suggestions?

  8. falko

    falko Super Moderator ISPConfig Developer

    I'm really confused. That's the first time I hear something like this, and I can't think of an explanation... :(
  9. ralic

    ralic New Member

    Check that the user account has a valid login shell in /etc/passwd. Post the corresponding entry here if you are unsure. Don't worry, /etc/passwd rarely contains any secret info these days.

    After you've su'd to the user, what is the result of typing

    Have you confirmed that the dir is really being created by root? I mean did you do
    ls -l
    after creating the dir?

    I ask because I've seen an instance where a user gets a "#" prompt (forget exactly why, but it was related to problem with home dir file permissions), which gives the illusion of 'root', but isn't.

    Could you post the actual log entries from auth.log?
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2008
  10. KenKnight

    KenKnight Member


    Here's the process;

    server:~# cd /var/www/web2
    server:/var/www/web2# cd web
    server:/var/www/web2/web# su fwd_admin
    server:/var/www/web2/web# whoami
    As it turns out it was the etc/passwd did not have a valid shell assigned to it even though this user is set to be the administrator of the site and have shell access.

    Thank you ralic for pointing me in the right direction and to everyone else for the help! Really appreciate it.


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