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Blog Unable to Switch User Error – su: no shell

Unable to Switch User Error – su: no shell

We had some users complaining about not being able to switch or substitute user, su. Here is the error message they were receiving: “su: no shell.” At first I thought the users had inadvertently locked out their accounts. But after querying nisplus and checking the file-based users, I didn’t observe any locked accounts. I tried switching to various users from root and received the same error. Then I tried switching user on a different workstation – no problem. The problem was tied to a particular box.

Then we used the truss command to trace the system/lib calls. It pointed to an unexpected access/permission issue. Observed the /usr directory was set to 600. Frankly speaking, the permission problem was somewhat a surprise since it was working fine the previous day. At any rate, changed the permissions and things were back to normal.

# truss su esofthub

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