Thanks - I tried two of those but will do so again.
(I just replied to the earlier quote but it didn't post. it was rather long but I will redo it. I should have copied it before submitting it).
I have been unable to submit it but will attempt to add it here:
root@cmgx58i7:~# cd /home
root@cmgx58i7:/home# ls -l
drwxr-xr-x 25 douglash douglash 4096 Jan 12 06:47 douglash
drwxr-xr-x 3 root root 4096 Jan 11 09:14 remastersys
The user douglash was created after I failed to enter my dhinds account, which I changed the passwd for following the instructions you provided earlier. But I am still unable to enter that account. So i manually recreated 15 email accounts and my Mate desktop (panels etc.) under root.
The subdirectory passwd does not appear under /etc (there are 15 subdirectories that begin with "P" under /etc but none is passwd or anything similar). Could it be somewhere else?
root@cmgx58i7:/home# cd /etc
root@cmgx58i7:/etc# cd /etc/passwd
bash: cd: /etc/passwd: Not a directory
Another strange thing: gparted doesn't indicate that Sparky's /home partition is mounted (and the / partition filled - so I enlarged it. That happened after the problem occurred).
Are the /home partitions associated with distinct users or do different users have separate directories on the /home partition?
Yet another strange issue is, two separate / partitions are shown to be mounted as such: / (labeled Sparky) and / labeled Debian (which was installed after I was unable to access my Sparky Mate 3.2 user).
I will also mention that Sparky is shown on the Debian Grub menu as Debian Testing also, whereas other Linux Derivitives (i.e. LMDE, Solus, Neptune & Point - which I no long use) are indicated under their own names. I mention this because it's something you might want to take care of (not that it's urgent).
I had never installed Debian previously and frankly, I prefer Sparky. Sparky comes with many of the applications I prefer already installed and a much more complete selection of Repositories. I do like Gnome 3 (although Mate is more functional for me at present - if the loss of user problem - which affects Mint and Ubuntoo also, can be resolved, and we are doing just that). Debian's Synaptic is acting strange also, whereas there's no problem with Sparky's. And of course the Sparky Forums are excellent. 8-)
I'll install Sparky Ultra and see if I can add the Full Gnome 3 Desktop. (Although using Sparky Mate as root is fine, if I am careful about the permissions. Although Sparky is my main system I do use openSUSE 13.1 Gnome occasionally).