I've created a Debian-based chroot environment using debootstrap under Arch Linux, and fill it with life like this:


mount -t proc proc $CHROOT/proc
mount -t devpts devpts $CHROOT/dev/pts

chroot $CHROOT /bin/bash --login -c "/etc/init.d/ssh start"

The problem is that after executing the script above, I'm not able to open new terminals on the host system anymore:

urxvt: can't initialize pseudo-tty, aborting.

Shutting down the chroot (stopping sshd, unmounting proc and dev/pts) does not bring back new terminals on the host.

What am I missing here?

  • 1
    Please post the output of ls -l /dev/pts before and after. Stab in the dark: is mount --bind /dev/pts $CHROOT/dev/pts any better? You'll probably save a lot of effort by using schroot instead of building your own. Sep 11, 2013 at 23:33
  • mount --bind did the trick, thanks! ;) Outputs of ls -l /dev/pts did not differ.
    – lynix
    Sep 13, 2013 at 12:48

1 Answer 1


When you run mount -t devpts devpts $CHROOT/dev/pts, this mounts a separate instance of the devpts filesystem in the chroot. An alternative way of making devpts available in the chroot is to use a bind mount, which makes the same instance of the filesystem available at a new location. Bind mounts are like making a hard link, only for mount points instead of files.

mount --bind /dev/pts "$CHROOT"/dev/pts

Separate instances of devpts shares the same files (if you create or remove a terminal or change its metadata, it's reflected in all instances). However there is evidently some difference under the hood which makes it not work. A bind mount ensures that everything that needs to be synchronized is synchronized since it's the same filesystem and not merely an identical one.

  • 1
    I just had the opposite problem with a Debian chroot running on QNAP's QTS Linux-based OS. I'd used a bind mount which caused screen to fail and switching to a devpts mount instead fixed it.
    – markshep
    Apr 21, 2016 at 21:24
  • I tried the bind mount and then mounting -t devpts - both go wrong in some cases. May 26 at 23:37

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.