Command line user management


Article from Issue 57/2005

Linux is a multiuser system: many users can work at the same machine at the same time on separate accounts. In this month’s column, we take a close look at how to create and manage Linux user accounts from the command line.

Multiuser systems neatly separate individual user workspaces. You can save your own files by assigning appropriate access privileges. The typical Unix/ Linux paradigm of having a separate account for administrative tasks (root) helps prevent the possibility of user errors that might otherwise take down the whole system.

The system administrator, root, is the boss of the whole system; a user needs root privileges to run the commands for setting up and managing user accounts that we will be looking at in this article. After discussing the most important configuration files, we will take an in-depth look at the useradd, usermod, and userdel tools, which allow us to create, manage, and delete accounts.

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