I'm using Ubuntu 14.04. While updating TeXLive I changed the PATH in an obviously wrong way. Now I can't log in: when I enter the correct password it comes back to the log in page.

I connected on tty1 using CTRL+Alt+F1. I got the error message

compaudit:105: command not found: getent

The error probably comes from PATH as

echo $PATH

returns only the path to texlive. The problem is I cannot edit any file since no commands are recognized (vim,nano, etc.)!

How can I overcome this? Any help appreciated as I am completely stuck.


You could have still startd the programs with their full path, for example /usr/bin/vim. Since most programs didn't work for you, you could have checked packages.ubuntu.com for their paths: http://packages.ubuntu.com/trusty/amd64/nano/filelist

Alternatively you could have booted into recovery mode and opened a shell there I guess.

  • The recovery mode did not work as I had to log in. Indeed for the full path! – anderstood Aug 30 '15 at 15:47

I just managed to solve my problem, this is how. I did not have a LiveUSB Linux so I rebooted with my Windows partition. I then installed ext2fsd on Windows and was able to read my partition with Ubuntu. I corrected the erroneous $PATH$ (I had made an mistake in the file \etc\environment) and rebooted.

Note that modifying a linux system file from windows is not recommended (I had got a "hard drive error" on the first Ubuntu boot after the modification from linux). I would rather recommend using a USB stick with a live version of Ubuntu.

I am still interested in any other solution, if any.

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