[Bug 523896] Re: useradd: cannot lock /etc/passwd; try again later.

Dmitrijs Ledkovs launchpad at surgut.co.uk
Mon Sep 3 12:59:40 UTC 2012

Fix uploaded into precise-proposed, waiting in unapproved queue.

** Changed in: shadow (Ubuntu Precise)
     Assignee: Dmitrijs Ledkovs (xnox) => (unassigned)

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  useradd: cannot lock /etc/passwd; try again later.

Status in “shadow” package in Ubuntu:
  Fix Committed
Status in “shadow” source package in Precise:
Status in “shadow” source package in Quantal:
  Fix Committed

Bug description:
  Binary package hint: postfix

  Ubuntu 9.10, via Update Manager.


  Look for /etc/group.lock, /etc/passwd.lock and /etc/shadow.lock files
  and remove them.

  Be careful to only remove the files ending in 'lock' or else you might
  damage your system.

  Please do not add comments just containing "Me too", instead please provide any information that could indicate why the files were locked:
   * the list of locked files:
      ls /etc/passwd.lock /etc/shadow.lock /etc/group.lock /etc/gshadow.lock

   * check the /var/log/auth.log for any message that could indicate the
  failure of any other tool (prior to the failure which reported the
  locked file)

   * any abnormal operation on the machine (reset, shutdown while the
  computer is still running)

  == SRU template ==


   * Locked files prevent adding/removing/modifying system users & groups
   * This can result in failure to upgrade/remove packages that use system user names
   * The applied fix is to clear the locks on booting.


   * $ sudo touch /etc/passwd.lock
   * $ sudo adduser testing523896
   * FAIL
   * Upgrade to new package
   * $ sudo adduser testing523896
   * FAIL
   * $ sudo reboot (or shutdown & poweron machine in any other way)
   * $ sudo adduser testing523896
   * PASS

   * Also you can touch the locks, check that they are there and run `$
  sudo start passwd` to clear them.

  [Regression Potential]

   * We are adding an extra job which will always run at boot, which will have a tiny impact  on boot performance
   * The new job can be mis-used directly via `$ sudo start passwd`, but root user could clear the locks in the exact same way as well, before introducing this upstart job.

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