SUMMARY: single user without /var

From: Arthur Hyun (
Date: Fri Sep 26 1997 - 10:41:18 CDT

The solutions (paraphrased) were:

1) Don't get into the situation in the first place --

    The problem is that /var/adm doesn't exist because /var couldn't mount.
    If a /var/adm is created in the / partition, then even if /var can't
    mount, then you won't get stuck.

    I knew about this already, but the machine in question didn't happen
    to have this preventive measure set up.

    Thanks to: (Russ Poffenberger)
        Rich Kulawiec <>
        Jim Harmon <>

2) Crash the machine so many times that fsck on / or /usr fails,
    and machine dumps straight into single-user.

    I didn't try this since the machine is not doing anything (after
    all, it can't boot), so it seemed like I would have to crash it
    too many times to be worth the trouble.

    Thanks to:
        David Stern <>

3) Boot off of CDROM or a boot server.

    Thanks to: (Ramindur Singh)

Also thanks to:
        Joel Lee <>

By way of clarification, I did try to boot into single user (boot -s)
but that didn't help -- I can't explain why. I know that sometimes
if there is a problem with /var (eg /var's fsck fails and so it doesn't
mount) I can get into single-user. Yet other times I cannot. I don't
yet grok the difference, but I haven't made the time to play with it.

Also, I know why /var couldn't mount -- the only question is how to
get it booted up so I could fix the problem. What had happened is
that the SCSI HBA that had the drive with /var failed, and just right
now I cannot arrange to replace the card or move the drive to a good
SCSI bus. My hope was to get the thing to run until I am again nearby
the box.

Orignal query:

 |Under Solaris 2.5 (with recommended patches)
 |If /var cannot be mounted, sometimes I get into a loop that looks like this:
 | INIT: Cannot create /var/adm/utmp or /var/adm/utmpx
 | Type Ctrl-d to proceed with normal startup,
 | (or give root password for system maintenance): Login incorrect
 | Type Ctrl-d to proceed with normal startup,
 | (or give root password for system maintenance): Login incorrect
 |Note that I don't actually type anything at the password prompt --
 |the sparc just pauses for a moment, throws the error, and loops forever.
 |I was wondering if there was a flag, similar to "boot -b", that can be
 |used to get around this problem or if the only solution is to boot off
 |of some other device (network, CD-ROM, &c). For various reasons, setting
 |up an alternate boot device is troublesome -- if I could bring the machine
 |up to single user, I can build a new /var (and whatever else) and continue
 |merrily on my way.

  Arthur Hyun                                     
  Systems Administrator III                             v: +1.518.283.8860
  PSINet Systems Administration                         f: +1.518.283.8904
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