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On a server which thousands of users loginto the admins seem to have neglected some basics. My default shell is csh I would like to use bash, but chsh errors because /etc/shells does not exist. To make things worse my second thought was usermod, which is unavailable on the machine.

The obvious solution is to create /etc/shells but I am not an admin and they seem to be unresponsive to such matters.

Is there a way to set my default shell other than using chsh or usermod? If not is there something better than running /usr/bin/bash -l every time I log in?

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Did you try adding /usr/bin/bash -l to your ~/.csh_profile? – mtahmed Feb 25 '13 at 17:22
No, unless you convince/bribe a sysamdin to change your user entry. – vonbrand Feb 25 '13 at 19:47

Make csh transfer control to bash when you log in. Put this in your .login:

if ($?prompt == 0) then
  : # non-interactive shell, be conservative
else if (-x /usr/bin/bash) then
  exec /usr/bin/bash --login
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