Weird Solaris sudo problem (with solution)

goldman at goldman at
Wed Dec 13 15:58:08 EST 2000

We've had a weird problem with sudo at my site.  The problem seems 
to only happen on Solaris 2.6 and older instalations.  It doesn't
happen on all of our boxes, just a few of them.

What happens is that sudo aborts just after asking you for your
password.  Very weird.

Turns out that the systems with the problem all have the following
line in their /etc/system:

		set rlim_fd_cur=4096

Bad, bad, bad.  That turned out to be the problem.  Turns out that
select is known not to work under Solaris 2.5.1 and Solaris 2.6
for values of rlim_fd_cur greater than 1024.  Sometimes.

Solution without reconfiguring the kernel and rebooting?

		ulimit -n 1025

either at a command prompt or in the user's startup script.  This
is a kernel variable that none of the current Unix team can remember
setting higher and our customers only remember that 'one of the
vendors' said that we needed more file descriptors.

Arrg.  Lots of weird problems go away with the ulimit correctly set.
Our sun rep said that the problem is due to limitations of the 
select() library call.

Sorry for the long note, I've been banging my head against the wall
with this one for a couple of months now.


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Matthew Goldman       E-mail: goldman at 

Its not cannibalism if you don't speak their language.  
La, la, la, I can't understand you.  La, la, la....

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