I was trying to install rake and rspec using ruby gems. I changed read permissions on /usr/bin

Now my terminal window looks like this:

login(388,0x7fff73cd5310) malloc: * error for object 0x7fdb79c05290: pointer being freed was not allocated * set a breakpoint in malloc_error_break to debug

[Process completed]

  • What did you change the permissions to, and did you do it recursively with the -R operator? Default permissions for /usr/bin should be 755. Changing the permissions may have blocked access to files that Terminal needs. You may have to drop into Recovery mode and try a permissions repair, or if you can get a Terminal session there, reset the permissions to 755.
    – douggro
    Commented Nov 1, 2014 at 21:01
  • I did use -R. How do I get into Recovery mode? Commented Nov 3, 2014 at 8:06

1 Answer 1


Given that you changed the read permissions on /usr/bin recursively, trying to restore the proper permissions through Terminal will not work - too many items in there have unique permissions. The best plan of action to remedy this I have is as follows.

  1. Open Disk Utility and run Repair Permissions on your disk. This may restore the proper permissions on the files in /usr/bin.
  2. Reboot into Recovery mode (hold the R key down during boot) and run Disk Utility there attempting the same Repair Permissions.
  3. If you have a Time Machine backup, restore your system from a time prior to making the permissions change. This would be accessed through Recovery mode.

Takeaway from this is never change permissions recursively on a directory unless you specifically know what you're doing.

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