Dealing with xauth “error in locking authority file” errors

I recently logged into one of my servers and received the following error:

$ ssh foo
matty@foo’s password:
Last login: Tue Nov 1 13:42:52 2011 from
/usr/bin/xauth: error in locking authority file /home/matty/.Xauthority

I haven’t seen this one before, but based on previous “locking issues” I’ve encountered in the past I ran strace against xauth to see if an old lock file existed:

$ strace xauth

In the output I saw the following which confirmed my suspicion:

open(“/home/matty/.Xauthority-c”, O_WRONLY|O_CREAT|O_EXCL, 0600) = -1 EEXIST (File exists)

A quick check with ls revealed the same thing:

$ ls -l /home/lnx/matty/.Xauthority*

-rw------- 2 matty SysAdmins 0 Nov  1 13:42 /home/lnx/matty/.Xauthority-c
-rw------- 2 matty SysAdmins 0 Nov  1 13:42 /home/lnx/matty/.Xauthority-l

I removed both of the lock files and haven’t seen the error again. Thought I would pass this on in case someone else encountered this issue.