Basic info: Server OS: CentOS 6.3 Client tool: PuTTY

I SSH to my server using PuTTY. I added an account with /sbin/nologin shell. When I log on to that account (selecting "never" close window on exit), console says "This account is currently not available" and PuTTY prompts "Connection closed by remote host".

But I expect the server should only say "account not available" without closing the connection, so that I can still tunneling through this connection.

I also noticed that for normal /bin/bash users, when typing exit, sometimes the connection is closed, sometimes the server says "LOGOUT" but still connected (I can still tunneling through it).

So how can I ensure a connection not to be closed for a nologin shell account?

2 Answers 2


An account with /usr/sbin/nologin as its shell is permitted to set establish port forwarding. However, if you attempt to run a shell command, the connection is forcibly terminated. The fix is to not run a shell command. With OpenSSH (the SSH implementation on almost all non-embedded Unix/Linux systems), pass the option -N to the SSH client.

ssh -N -L 1234:somehost:5678 restricteduser@host.example.com

With PuTTY, tick “Don't start a shell or command at all” in the Connection > SSH tab.

  • Thanks. I found "Connection -> SSH -> Don't start a shell or command at all" and it works.
    – limilaw
    Jan 10, 2013 at 15:20

From man ssh:

The session terminates when the command or shell on the remote machine exits and all X11 and TCP connections have been closed.

I think the easiest way (but not the only) to make /bin/cat as the loging shell. Dirty hack.


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