[Pkg-shadow-devel] Bug#372280: adduser fails: "configuration error - unknown item"

Stephen Gran sgran at debian.org
Fri Jun 9 13:00:13 UTC 2006

This one time, at band camp, Ian Bruce said:
> On Fri, 9 Jun 2006 10:57:57 +0100
> Stephen Gran <sgran at debian.org> wrote:
> > This one time, at band camp, Ian Bruce said:
> > > "adduser" produces a lot of error messages about unrecognized
> > > parameters, which may or may not be harmless. This may indicate a
> > > conflict with some version of another package, but it's not clear to me
> > > which one.
> > 
> > You have these directives set in /etc/login.defs.  My understanding is
> > that they have been deprecated for some time, but now they create a 
> > warning message.  This is not a bug in adduser (in fact, I'm not sure
> > it's a bug at all - programs do change the acceptable options in their
> > conf files over time, and it's not a good idea to automatedly overwrite
> > an edited config file on upgrade).
> > 
> > Others, I leave it to you whether or not you want to reassign this to
> > login (the package responsible for login.defs) or just close it.  I can
> > see arguments both ways.
> The version of "login" on this system is 1:4.0.3-31sarge5 (current
> "stable" archive). I have not edited /etc/login.defs since installing
> the operating system. I suggest that a conflict, or an updated version
> dependency, be put in the "passwd" package to prevent this problem,
> since it's apparently the one that no longer recognizes these
> parameters. 

I suggest opening that bug on passwd, then.

> It's pretty alarming if you don't know what the cause of it
> is; it barfs up these errors every time "apt-get" tries to create a
> system userid.

It's clearly passwd and login.  That was never in question.  It's just
that it's not a bug in adduser itself, since adduser only uses these

It's quite a noisy and alarming looking message, but since it has no
side effects, I haven't been particualrly bothered by it.  Please take
it up with the passwd and login maintainers if you disagree.

> It might also be a good idea to change the error message to refer to the
> login.defs file which is causing the problem; if this had been the case,
> I could have figured it out for myself. The program /usr/sbin/useradd
> contains the following string (as do several others from this package):
> "configuration error - unknown item '%s' (notify administrator)"
> How about changing that to:
> "configuration error - unknown item '%s' in file '%s' (notify administrator)"

Please note that in your bug report to passwd.
|   ,''`.                                            Stephen Gran |
|  : :' :                                        sgran at debian.org |
|  `. `'                        Debian user, admin, and developer |
|    `-                                     http://www.debian.org |
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