A transcript of today's session:

x@yz:~$ shutdown now
User nobody is logged in on ???.
Please retry operation after closing inhibitors and logging out other users.
Alternatively, ignore inhibitors and users with 'systemctl poweroff -i'.

I've used shutdown now all the time and never seen anything like this. What is this? What's nobody's business on ???? I'm the sole user of my sys and have never messed w/ nobody there

EDIT (per comments):

x@yz:~$ ps -aux | grep nobody
nobody    2666  0.0  0.0  45408   132 ?        Ss   May  09   0:00 /lib/systemd/systemd --user
nobody    2667  0.0  0.0 163956     8 ?        S    May  09   0:00 (sd-pam)
x        11189  0.0  0.0  24480  1004 pts/0    S+   02:50   0:00 grep --color=auto nobody

x@yz:~$ ps -U 65534
 PID TTY          TIME CMD
 2666 ?        00:00:00 systemd
 2667 ?        00:00:00 (sd-pam)
  • Execute: grep nobody /etc/passwd, grab userid, then ps -U <userid> and post what process is logged in as it.
    – ajeh
    May 11, 2018 at 23:51
  • @ajeh systemd and (sd-pam)
    – jaam
    May 12, 2018 at 0:00
  • Use the suggested command and if you want more info here's a lighter reading askubuntu.com/questions/329714/…
    – ajeh
    May 12, 2018 at 0:07
  • It's also worth mentioning that sudo shutdown now worked
    – jaam
    May 14, 2018 at 17:46

1 Answer 1


To clarify it all :-

1. How nobody user came in your system?

Nobody user is a pseudo user created by default on a fresh install in many Linux and Unixes distributions

2. Who is nobody user ?

"Nobody" user has the least permissions on the system. It owns no files, is in no privileged groups, and has no abilities except those which every other user has. Nobody user has no shell assigned to it.

~$ sudo grep nobody /etc/passwd

3. What is the purpose of nobody user ?

In early Unix and Linux Distributions, it was common to run daemons (for example a webserver) under nobody user to limit the damage to the rest of the system, so that If a malicious user gained control over such a daemon, he do not have access to any file or privileged rights.

But the problem is, when there are multiple daemons running with the nobody user, this has no sense anymore. That's why today such daemons have their own user.

4. How nobody user logged in on your system ?

You might have some service/daemon running which runs under nobody user. Some examples of services can be: httpd, nfs, postfix , etc

5. What are the two processes running on your system under nobody user ?

  • systemd --user instance that is started when a user first logs in ( in your case it is the nobody user )
  • (if pam_systemd is enabled), systemd starts a subprocess "(sd-pam)" that opens a PAM session for the user, using the "systemd-user" service name.

6. Why are the processes ( systemd and sd-pam ) still there , even when the service that ran under nobody user is not running anymore ?

Well this has been reported as a bug where

Systemd-user doesn't properly close its PAM session.

Systemd is not able to close pam session properly because sd-pam subprocess drops privileges after pam_open_session(). So pam_close_session() runs as the user rather than as root which breaks PAM modules that need to do privileged tasks to clean up the session.

For more information on this:





  • Why systemd creates user login session, user slice, starts user manager, etc. when a daemon is run under this user? Jun 10, 2020 at 18:21
  • 1
    There's no sudo needed to grep the file /etc/passwd. Please stop using sudo for everything. Apr 7, 2021 at 18:44

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