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I am trying to check the BIOS version of a server over SSH, a command that requires root privileges:

ssh remote-server su -c dmidecode

but this of course fails with the error:

standard in must be a tty

How do I make this work? I cannot use sudo, and when I try to log in as root@remote-server, it won't accept the password I use for the 'su' command. I am using RedHat Enterprise Linux 4.

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I would also suggest looking into using sudo instead of "su -c" –  wfaulk Oct 8 '09 at 21:32
as I specified "I cannot use sudo" –  aaron Oct 9 '09 at 13:13

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Use -t to force ssh to allocate a tty:

ssh -t -t remote-user su -c dmidecode

You might also consider allowing root to ssh directly. If you're using public key authentication, this may be more secure as you won't be passing a password around. If you decide to do this, consider blocking root logins from anywhere except your trusted IP addresses by putting the following in /etc/security/access.conf:

+ : root :

and make sure UsePAM isn't disabled in sshd_config

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Any reason you included two -ts in your example? –  wfaulk Oct 8 '09 at 21:31
According to the man page, multiple -t options "force tty allocation, even if ssh has no local tty" –  Heath Oct 8 '09 at 21:46
This doesn't work for me on Fedora. It allows the script to prompt me for my password, but my password displays as plaintext, and when I press enter, it just hangs. –  Cerin Jan 20 '11 at 17:20
@Chris that's a different problem. Try asking a new question. –  geocar Mar 13 '11 at 1:14

Can't you just log in to the remote server as a standard user and then use sudo?

You could also try quoting the command to be executed by ssh, as in

ssh remote-server 'su -c dmidecode'


ssh remote-server "su -c dmidecode"
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-1 because quoting the command isn't going to resolve his lack of a terminal. +1 for suggesting sudo. It's a wash. –  wfaulk Oct 8 '09 at 21:34
as I specified "I cannot use sudo" –  aaron Oct 8 '09 at 21:37

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