Mac OS X: Issues after removing "etc" and/or "var" directory alias when started up from Mac OS 9

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

Aliases to the "etc" and "var" folders may be visible when started up from Mac OS 9. These aliases shouldn't be removed.

This document applies to Mac OS X 10.1.5 or later.

When starting up in Mac OS X after having been started up from Mac OS 9, one or more of these symptoms occurs:

  • The computer stops responding during startup.
  • The Setup Assistant reappears.
  • BSD commands that access files in etc and var fail.
  • An alert box appears with a message that contains:
    "/etc/master.passwd: no such file or directory".

Do not delete the "etc" or "var" aliases, or any other Mac OS X-installed files or folders that are visible when started up from Mac OS 9. See "Mac OS X: "Broken Folder" Icon, Prohibitory Sign, or Kernel Panic When Computer Starts Up".

If these items were deleted, use these steps:

  1. Start up in single-user mode.
  2. Type: mount -uw /
  3. Press Return.
  4. Type: ln -s /private/etc etc

    If this alert appears: "File already exists," execute the following command, then repeat the last step:
    mv /etc /private/tmp/etc.delete

  5. Press Return.
  6. Type: mv /var /var.delete
    There is a space between "/var" and "/var.delete".

  7. Press Return.
    Tip: If you see the message "No such file or directory," make sure that the spacing and spelling are correct, then repeat the last two steps. If you still see this message after the second attempt, continue to the next step.
  8. Type: ln -s /private/var var
  9. Press Return.
  10. Type: ls -l | grep ">"
    The character before "grep" is a pipe character ("|"), which is usually located above the Return key.

  11. Press Return.

    Look for these two items in the output:

    lrwxrwxr-t  1 root  admin  {date} etc -> private/etc
    lrwxrwxr-t  1 root  admin  {date} var -> private/var

    If any of these are not present, repeat the necessary steps above until they are.

  12. Type: reboot
  13. Press Return.

If you still can't start from Mac OS X, see Mac OS X: Troubleshooting a startup issue.

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107396 Mac OS X: Cannot print, use Classic, start file sharing, burn discs, or update software if /tmp missing

Published Date: Feb 17, 2012