What's the point of the shell choice in single user mode?

Daniel Bye freebsd-questions at slightlystrange.org
Sat Dec 1 05:46:17 PST 2007

On Sat, Dec 01, 2007 at 02:15:26PM +0100, Erik Trulsson wrote:
> On Sat, Dec 01, 2007 at 04:44:27AM +0000, John Murphy wrote:
> > I've just successfully done the world and kernel upgrade from 7 beta2
> > to beta3. I've always had a mergemaster phobia, but it didn't seem too
> > bad this time. I thought I'd broken it after choosing /bin/tcsh as my
> > shell in single user mode. It grumbled about termcap (I think) and
> > then gave me a "simple shell" with a % prompt.
> > 
> > fsck and mount were unknown commands and even though I could change
> > directory to /usr or /home they were (apparently) empty! Scary!
> > I now realise it was because they were not mounted of course.
> > 
> > I'll know to always accept the suggested /bin/sh in future, but I was
> > wondering if the only reason a choice of a different shell is offered
> > is to scare the unwary.
> On possible scenario is that /bin/sh has - somehow - been corrupted, deleted
> or otherwise made unusable.  In that situation it is very nice to be able to
> choose some other shell so you can at least try to fix the problem.

And some individuals even seem to prefer [t]csh over sh! I know, what's
that all about? ;-P (runs to a safe distance to watch the fireworks...)

John - you would have had the same experience had you selected sh -
only the root file system is mounted if you come up into single user,
which is why the installworld instructions tell you to mount all your
other local file systems. As for fsck and mount being unknown, I suspect
that's due to a very conservative initial PATH under tcsh, but as I
don't use it, I don't know for sure. And the termcap grumble is 
because /etc/termcap is actually a symlink to /usr/share/misc/termcap,
which on your system is evidently not on your / fs.


Daniel Bye
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