[semi-resolved] Red Hat 7.x ssh fails with error "System is booting up. See pam_nologin(8) \ Authentication Failed." (but system is booted)

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This is not a Red Hat solution, this is the Red Hat discussion area. I'm documenting this here because I've had at minimum 3 systems have this issue and want to document it for others who might be experiencing this (or for myself or team members when I google it).


  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7.x Server

Note: make a comment in this discussion if you encounter this on a system that is not RHEL 7


  • ssh to a RHEL 7 server fails with the following erroneous error in the below block:
# your ip address or hostname will obviously differ
[you@yoursystem] # ssh
System is booting up. See pam_nologin(8)
Authentication failed.

  • The system you are attempting to ssh to is actually not in the boot process.

  • The user you are sshing to is not a nologin account


  • IMPORTANT Really know that this system is not in the process of booting. If it is not then manually log into the system, become root and remove /run/nologin file

  • Log into the system using the console of the computer (physical or virtual, or web interface for a console). Then remove the /run/nologin file.

  • Virtual system example, if it is a VMware system, use the VMware interface to log in and perform this.

  • Visit the system and log into the console if it is a physical server.

  • If you have a remote management tool (Dell for example has "iDrac"), use it to gain access to your system

  • Some systems might have Red Hat Cockpit installed and running, use it if possible to attain terminal access.

  • Again, once you are logged in, switch to the root account and remove the /run/nologin file

  • Additionally check for the following files and remove if they exist:

ls  /{var/run,etc,run}/nologin && rm  /{var/run,etc,run}/nologin

Root Cause

Request any Red Hatters or anyone else post anything relevant on this topic (especially if there is a source solution or article from redhat).