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When I run whoami it says:

whoami: cannot find name for user id 0

My /etc/passwd file looks like this:

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Your /etc/passwd is broken? Can you post the contents – warl0ck Jan 31 '13 at 2:06
What's your id command in current shell when you get whoami?. – PersianGulf Jan 31 '13 at 3:16
(1) Which linux distribution? (2) What is output of pwck and grpck? (3) Does file /etc/shadow exist? – John Siu Jan 31 '13 at 4:34
Also, have you set up (or attempted to) directory services of some sort (LDAP, NIS, etc.)? Have you touched /etc/nsswitch.conf? – derobert Jan 31 '13 at 17:09
I'm thinking nsswitch.conf as derobert mentioned. But I have seen nscd cause weird crap like this before. If it's running, try stopping it. If it is not running, try starting it (though the starting it if it's not running thing was an old RHEL bug that should not around any more). – Patrick Feb 1 '13 at 3:35

3 Answers 3

Notice there is a missing x

This is the content of mine on Linux Mint with kernel 3.8.0-35-generic


The x means that the actual password information is being stored in a separate shadow password file, tipically /etc/shadow

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I would recommend checking the permissions on /etc/passwd and /etc/group. If they're not set to 644 (-rw-r--r--), then run:

chmod 644 /etc/passwd; chmod 644 /etc/group

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still says cannot find name for user id 0 – gabemai Jan 31 '13 at 22:28

Check that each and every line in /etc/passwd has exactly seven fields.

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