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I am having some troubles on my Solaris 8 computer. I don't know how this happened, but the path of the user root has changed in /etc/passwd, therefore I can't become the root user anymore.

Under normal circumstances, the path is like this:

root:x:0:1:Super-User:/:/sbin/sh

But now it's like this:

root:x:0:1:Super-User:/root:/bin/csh

The directory /root doesn't exist.

I can not edit /etc/passwd because I don't have the necessary privileges to do it.

  • Can you use su, or sudo to become root from another user? – ctrl-alt-delor Nov 14 '18 at 13:15
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Assuming this is on SPARC, boot in single user mode from the OK prompt:

StopA, then boot -s

You should then be able to fix the /etc/passwd file.

  • Thnks for your answer, i'll try it and let you know. And yes it's a SPARC – Hohenheim Nov 12 '18 at 10:01
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If you know the root password, you should also be able to fix the problem using a simple su command (I don't have access to a Solaris 8 system to test):

  • Issue the su command - without any arguments
  • Enter the root password to become root without going through the full login shell process
  • Fix the problem. Either create a root:root-owned /root directory with 0700 permissions, or restore the /etc/passwd entry. You may need to explicitly set ownership and/or file permissions with chown and/or chmod.
  • Either way, fix the root shell and restore it to /sbin/sh. /bin/csh is not statically linked and can depend on filesystems not mounted immediately at boot, another way of making the root account inaccessible. Do not change the root shell from /sbin/sh on Solaris 8. Doing so indicates a lack of understanding of Solaris 8 along with a closed-minded and dangerous fixation on the part of an admin to only using and understanding a limited toolset.

Follow on steps:

  • Find a PDF copy of the Solaris 8 man pages section 1M: System Administration Commands
  • Print out the entire book
  • Bring printed out pages to a bookbinder
  • Bind man pages into big book
  • Identify SA who broke the root account on this system
  • Pound said SA over the head with big man pages book for being stupid enough to change the root account on a system without understanding the consequences.

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