How to Modify the LoginWindow to eliminate Home Directory Issues


OS X Clients display the following message when attempting to login to an OS X Server network:

"Unable to log in as user "X" at this time. Logging into account failed because an error occured. The home folder is located on an AFP or SMB server. Please contact your System Admin."


LoginWindow loads prior to workstation establishing a Network connection at startup. This procedure edits the LoginWindow StartupParameter.plist to require a Network connection. I have tested this on two different networks, one with 10.3.6 clients connecting to a 10.2.8 Server and one with 10.3.6 clients connecting to a 10.3.6 Server. No negative results or feedback yet, but use at your own risk. It is possible that this procedure will delay or even stall startup if you have unresolved network issues. As of November 30th, 2004 no delays or other problems have appeared. I did have two users suggest adding DirectoryServices to the requires field along with Network.


Always work with a copy of the original plist. I am not responsible for any problems that performing this modification may cause. I have tested it and everything is still in working order. But, as they say on all UNIX tutorials "You have been warned..."

If you did not install the Developer Tools when you setup your workstation you will need to do so before continuing. Or at least install the Property List Editor (copy it from your Server if you have the Developer Tools installed there).

Step 1

On your client workstation go to /System/Library/StartupItems/LoginWindow/StartupParameters.plist and Option-Drag the file to the desktop.

Step 2

Using Property List Editor open the StartupParameters.plist file that you placed on the desktop.

Step 3

Click on the disclosure triangle next to Root; then click on the disclosure triangle next to Requires; you should then see disclosure triangles numbered 0 and 1.

Step 4

Click on Requires; Click the New Child button.

Step 5

You should now have disclosure triangles numbered 0, 1 and 2 under Requires. In the new child type "Network" in the value field; added November 23rd, 2004, repeat steps 4 and 5 to add "DirectoryServices" to the Requires field.

Step 6

Save your changes and replace the StartupParameters.plist in the original file location (/System/Library/StartupItems/LoginWindow/StartupParameters.plist).

Step 7

Use Apple Remote Desktop to copy the modified StartupParameters.plist to the rest of your workstations.

Hope this helps make your day a little better.

Send comments, suggestions or corrections to

Rick Davis
The Primax Group
Cincinnati, Ohio

2300 Montana Ave, Suite 102, Cincinnati, OH 45211
P.513.772.1223 F.513.772.0261 Toll-Free.888.856.7377