Is there a way (other than permit root login on the target machine) to work-around the following:

$ ssh
user@'s password:
"System is booting up. Unprivileged users are not permitted to log in yet. Please come back later. For technical details, see pam_nologin(8)."

I am trying to debug remotely a failure to start an X session.

At this time, the following link is not working for me:

  • I'm not sure, but maybe deleting /run/nologin with cron on reboot helps you?
    – Panki
    Dec 13, 2018 at 13:29

2 Answers 2


This issue may come from /run/nologin. /run/nologin is created by systemd-tmpfiles-setup.service. It is then removed by systemd-user-sessions.service.

So you have to delete this:

$ ls -l /run/nologin
# rm /run/nologin

Let us know if it works! Good Luck!


Copying the answer provided by Giles at Can I allow a non-root user to log in when /etc/nologin exists?

If your system uses PAM, the login denial when /etc/nologin exists is triggered by the pam_nologin module.

You can skip the pam_nologin invocation for users matching certain criteria with pam_succeed_if. For example, if you want to allow users in the adm group to log in on a text console even if /etc/nologin exists, add the following line to /etc/pam.d/login just before the line with auth requisite pam_nologin.so:

auth [default=ignore success=1] pam_succeed_if.so quiet user ingroup adm

I added: Also note that if your system has an '/etc/pam.d/sshd' configuration file, you will need to add the same auth ignore line to it if you wish to login early via ssh.

Got hit by this when I did an oldoldstable upgrade to buster. It was quite disconcerting when I suddenly got the Go-Away message.

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