I am using CentOS 5 on my laptop. If I open gnome-terminal by right clicking the desktop, I am getting an error that read as follows:

There was an error creating the child process for this terminal

How do I fix this problem and open a terminal by right clicking the Debian / Ubuntu / CentOS / Fedora / RHEL / Red hat Enterprise Linux 5.x desktop system?

Tutorial details
Difficulty level Intermediate
Root privileges Yes
Requirements Linux and devpts
Est. reading time N/A
This problem is related to devpts (also known as Unix98 pty naming) file system. The devpts must be mounted on /dev/pts. Before opening the pseudo-terminal slave, you or the process must pass the master’s file descriptor. From the man page:

The file /dev/ptmx is a character file with major number 5 and minor number 2, usually of mode 0666 and owner.group of root.root. It is used to create a pseudo-terminal master and slave pair. When a process opens /dev/ptmx, it gets a file descriptor for a pseudo-terminal master (PTM), and a pseudo-terminal slave (PTS) device is created in the /dev/pts directory.

In order to solve your problem mount /dev/pts. This is required when opening a pseudo terminal. Edit /etc/fstab:
# vi /etc/fstab
Because /dev/pts is needed when , missing mounting point /dev/pts in file /etc/fstab will produce this error. Verify that ptsfs is mounted:
$ mount | grep pts
Sample outputs:

devpts on /dev/pts type devpts (rw,noexec,nosuid,gid=5,mode=620)

If devpts is not mounted, type the following command as root user to mount it:
# mount -t devpts devpts /dev/pts
Also, edit the file /etc/fstab, enter:
# vi /etc/fstab
Add the following line if no such line exists in /etc/fstab:

devpts           /dev/pts              devpts  gid=5,mode=620  0 0

Save and close the file. You can reboot the machine to test new changes.

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5 comments… add one
  • billnozick Jan 2, 2013 @ 22:44

    Ubuntu 12.10 Terminal Bug

    So this didn’t work for me, perhaps the edited file is styled more specficially than what I entered, with respect to tab delimited vs space delimited; it is difficult to tell which or if the delimiters are present or significant.


  • billnozick Jan 10, 2013 @ 21:03

    Anyone found a fix for this yet? The above is not working, interested to find a means to the cause

  • rodrigo Jun 10, 2013 @ 0:16

    how!!!!!!!!!!??????????? tipe the commmand if not opoeb the fking terminal???????

  • rodrigo Jun 10, 2013 @ 0:17

    what it costs … windows zero cost but problems like these

  • joeg Jul 8, 2013 @ 12:31

    Our bandaid fix was to change the user’s password through root. Some machines did require a reboot afterwards, but some did not.

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