I'm somewhat a Linux noob, so I'm sorry if this is a very basic question. I tried to look on superuser for other answers, but i'm not exactly sure what i'm looking for.

So, here's my problem. When I log in to my vpn server, it no longer opens bash automatically. Instead it just gives me the


instead of

$ user@host / location 

When I log in with my root user, it actually loads bash on login. I can load bash manually with the


command, but I rather understand what happened, that changed this in the first place, and how to restore it.

  • How do you know you are not running bash? Bash could be set up up to just show $ to you. You can you 'echo $0' to check.
    – bdsl
    Feb 22, 2015 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


Run this command:

grep $USER /etc/passwd

(Explained here. Alternatively use cat /etc/passwd | grep $USER, both are equivalent but the latter one may be easier to understand. It's less efficient, though, so it's not recommended for scripts etc. Thanks to @Mat for this suggestion.)

It will return your user account's information. Here's mine:


The part after the last colon (/bin/bash) is my default shell. It seems that yours is sh. That would mean that you either have it explicitly set as your default shell (/bin/sh) or you have no default shell/invalid one, so Linux falls back to sh which is the most basic one.

To switch to bash, run this command:

chsh -s /bin/bash

It will ask for your password and change default shell to bash.

  • Hey thanks for the help. However, I must have broke something. This is my account info: "david:x:1000:100::/home/david:" And when I try to switch bash, i get this "You may not change the shell for 'david'."
    – David
    Feb 22, 2015 at 11:34
  • I tried to change it with root, and that worked however. Thank you very much for pointing me to chsh.
    – David
    Feb 22, 2015 at 11:38
  • 1
    Note to @Mat: I am aware that grep can read files, but I have intentionally used cat and pipe. This is a simple one-time command, so performance is not an issue. cat | grep is more explicit than grep alone, so it's often easier to understand for beginners. And I don't have to remember order of arguments for grep ;)
    – gronostaj
    Feb 22, 2015 at 16:09
  • 7
    I understand what you say but completely disagree. Especially if you're show stuff to beginners - teach the right way. It's less typing and more efficient. If you start by teaching bad habits, well, they stick. (But indeed this is a minor nit. Have it your way :-) ).
    – Mat
    Feb 22, 2015 at 16:43
  • @Mat if you find if truly offensive, you can always edit the answer, especially if you think it will contribute something positive to said answer. :-) Feb 22, 2015 at 18:27

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