Followup, Something Wierd...MAIL question...

From: Jim Harmon (
Date: Mon Jan 13 1997 - 10:07:51 CST

Thankyou to the folks who responded to my question about the ownership
problem in my /var/spool/mail directory for user "chris"

        Glenn Satchell
        Per Boussard
        John Benjamins johnb@Soliton.COM

        and (embarrassingly,) my boss, who reads this list religiously!

The answer to the mysterious "#" in front of the ownername in the mail
file was that I had (several month ago) been working with some users who
had "bad" passwords. As we weren't running yppasswdd (NIS passwd
deamon) at the time, I fudged by inserting a "login once and you HAVE to
change your passwd" entry in /etc/passwd.

The answer to this question was:

I put an "#" in front of the unused entry for "chris" in the /etc/passwd
file, and I didn't catch it because we use the NIS database for logins.

The "chown" command found the string "#chris" in /etc/passwd before it
tried to look for "chris" in the NIS database.

        For those who aren't familiar with the passwd field in
        the passwd file, you can force 2-or-3 conditions for your
        users manually...

        typical entry:

        anybody:abcdefghijklm:601:601:Any Body:/usr/anybody:/bin/sh

        Locked: (user cannot log in, password preserved)

        anybody:*abcdefghijklm:601:601:Any Body:/usr/anybody:/bin/sh

        Locked: (user cannot log in, old passwd discarded)

        anybody:*:601:601:Any Body:/usr/anybody:/bin/sh

        Forced Password prompt at login:

        anybody:,.:601:601:Any Body:/usr/anybody:/bin/sh

        No Password: (thus no security)

        anybody::601:601:Any Body:/usr/anybody:/bin/sh

I'm still investigating the outbound mail problem, but the resolution
above is probably the answer there too....

Thanks again everyone....

(original question(s))_______________________

> I have a weird situation with a user's mail... and I'm looking for hints
> or suggestions on how to procede:
> The Problem:
> User "chris" can not send mail outside our domain to other
> external domains.
> User "chris" CAN recieve mail from any external domain...
> While investigating, (perhaps unrelated) I checked the
> /var/spool/mail listing for "chris" and saw that the
> spool files for ONLY THIS USER has one strange difference...
> the "owner" name for chris is "#chris", all other user
> "owner" names are normal. (the "owner" name s/b "chris").
> The system:
> Mail Server:
> SPARC2 server running SunOS 4.1.3
> Sendmail v4.1
> POP 1.831beta (I'm not yet sure where from, but it's worked
> flawlessly until last month)
> User is on a MAC, MacOS 7.5, running MacTCP and Netscape 3.0,
> otherwise connected to our UNIX system with CAP.
> Other possible contributing data:
> The user was using TCP/Connect II on the MAC until mid
> December, when we switched to Netscape 3.0 for cross-platform
> uniformity. (we also have NT, Win95, Solaris, and LYNX OS
> online at this site... almost all users are using Netscape
> to read mail. NO OTHER MAC user is experiencing this
> problem.)
> What I've tried:
> Rebuilding the user's entires in passwd and group files
> Reinitializing NIS
> Reinitializing DNS
> Removing mail files and recreating them for the user
> EVERY time, the result has been the user's mail files have
> an ownership that includes a "#", but ALL other files owned
> by this user do NOT have the "#" in the owner column.

Jim Harmon					The Telephone Connection			   Rockville, Maryland

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