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I am entering to an Ubuntu Server using root, and I need to run a background process as a more limited user, so I write

su -l limitedUser -c 'programName'

But nothing happens. Even if programName is something like echo, nothing is being executed. What could be going on? Is there a log I could take a look at?

PS: I know nothing is being executed as TOP or PS AFX don't show anything new running.

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What happens if you su to limitedUser with su -l limitedUser and then, when you get the prompt, type programName<ENTER>? Does it run at all? Remember that, as answered by Ярослав below, the user has to be enabled and have a shell like /bin/bash, etc (not something like /bin/false). – jaume Oct 17 '12 at 6:55
    
The problem was that it was pointing to /bin/false like you said. Thanks! – Luciano Oct 17 '12 at 13:04

The user has to be enabled (have password set, not be expired, etc).

It is possible that your su does not issue a warning like mine. You may consult /var/log/auth.log to see what is happening

# su apache -c bash
This account is currently not available.
# tail -n 10 /var/log/auth.log 
Oct 17 05:53:16 geee su[30744]: Successful su for apache by root
Oct 17 05:53:16 geee su[30744]: + /dev/pts/11 root:apache
Oct 17 05:53:17 geee su[30744]: pam_unix(su:session): session opened for user apache by (uid=0)
Oct 17 05:53:17 geee nologin: Attempted login by jaroslav on /dev/pts/11
Oct 17 05:53:17 geee su[30744]: pam_unix(su:session): session closed for user apache
Oct 17 05:53:20 geee su[30748]: Successful su for apache by root
Oct 17 05:53:20 geee su[30748]: + /dev/pts/11 root:apache
Oct 17 05:53:20 geee su[30748]: pam_unix(su:session): session opened for user apache by (uid=0)
Oct 17 05:53:20 geee nologin: Attempted login by jaroslav on /dev/pts/11
Oct 17 05:53:20 geee su[30748]: pam_unix(su:session): session closed for user apache
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