Troubleshoot Login Problems in TerpConnect for UNIX

This page is based on MIT dotfiles from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). It has been modified to reflect the TerpConnect computer system environment. These files should not be removed from your account unless you know what you are doing.

While making customizations, it is possible to make mistakes that will make it difficult for you to login. Here are a few tips on how to deal with this should it happen. Proper testing ahead of time can help avoid most mistakes that will make it hard to login, but there are always exceptions.

If troubleshooting does not work, contact the Service Desk.

Once you have logged in the first thing to do is figure out where the problem is located. The easiest way is to modify only one dotfile at a time and try logging in with the new one, then you know what file the mistake is in. If you have already made changes to many files, try entering this command at the top of each of your dotfiles (except ~/.Xresources and ~/.zwgc.desc) you made changes to:

echo "sourcing dotfile foo"

and enter this at the end: 

echo "done with dotfile foo"

Replace "foo" with the name of the dotfile. During session initialization the messages will appear in the console window so you can tell what dotfile is being sourced at any given moment. You will know which one breaks the system by noting which one starts but doesn't finish. Looking at the flow charts of session initialization while this is happening will help it all make sense.

Once you know which dotfile is causing the problems, take a look at the dotfile and see if you mistyped anything. If not, see if you made a logic error or some other mistake. If you still can't figure out what is wrong you can use the document on Default Dotfiles. Once you have a working file, try adding back in the changes one at a time.

Another option is to "comment out" sections of the dotfile that you changed to narrow down where the problem is located. This is done by entering the character # in front of each line you wish ignore. The # can simply be deleted at a later date to have the line sourced again. By commenting out changes and adding them back in one at a time the error can usually be located.

If all else fails, get the default user dotfiles and copy them into your account.