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Added a user, now no one can login

The caller id on my cell phone said this was someone in California, but I didn't recognize the number. I was tied up that moment anyone, wrestling cables to a tape drive I was replacing, so I let it go to voice mail.

I had finished the drive install and was putting the cover back on when the phone rang again, same number. Again I let it go to voice mail, but a few minutes later it rang once more. Somebody obviously trying very hard to hear my voice, so I put down my tools and answered it.

"Oh, man I'm so glad you are there!". I recognized the voice, a long time customer who only calls once or twice a year. When he does call, it's usually pretty serious. "What's happening?", I asked.

"I just added a new user, and now nobody else can log in. Man, I am DOWN".

"You just added the user - nothing else?", I queried.

"Well, I copied over a .netrc and a .profile from another user and chmod'ed them, but no, nothing else".

"I know what's wrong", I said, and told him.

Do you know what was wrong, and how to fix it?


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