Cannot Login to The Server When Configuring "nofile" Parameter as "unlimited" in /etc/security/limits.conf

(Doc ID 1581781.1)

Last updated on OCTOBER 17, 2013

Applies to:

Linux OS - Version Oracle Linux 5.6 to Oracle Linux 6.4 with Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel [2.6.39] [Release OL5U6 to OL6U4]
Information in this document applies to any platform.


You cannot log into the system as a normal user, nor as root. All attempts such as using the Gnome Window Manager GDM screen or ssh(1) fail.

Gnome Display Manager (GDM)

Authentication Failed


May 2 20:21:43 HOSTNAME gdm[6561]: Couldn't open session for root


May  2 20:20:37 HOSTNAME sshd[7450]: Accepted password for xxxxxxx from ##.##.##.## port 1474 ssh2
May  2 20:20:37 HOSTNAME sshd[7450]: pam_unix(sshd:session): session opened for user xxxxxxx by (uid=##)
May  2 20:20:37 HOSTNAME sshd[7450]: error: PAM: pam_open_session(): Permission denied
May  2 20:20:37 HOSTNAME sshd[7454]: Received disconnect from ##.##.##.##: 2: disconnected by server request


The file /etc/security/limits.conf has recently been changed to set the number of files a process can have open (nofile) to the value "unlimited". For example, the original stanza:

* soft nofile 4096
* hard nofile 65536

was changed to be:

* soft nofile unlimited
* hard nofile unlimited


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