One of the major work of a System Administrator is User & Group Management. We have to create new users & groups, delete old ones, providing users access to a group or folder etc etc. So, in this tutorial, we will learn how we can manage users & groups.

Linux systems have two types of users, general/normal user and root/super user . While general users have limited access to the Linux system, root users have access to anything & everything on the Linux system.

When a user is created a group with the same user name is also created. Every user has its own home directory, for user root its /root & for general users its located in /home/. Records with all the user information for all the users is maintained in /etc/passwd file & records for all the groups are kept /etc/group.

Let’s discuss these files in brief before we discuss the commands for user & group management

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This file contains list of all users with every line of the file containing information regarding single user. Format for each line is

Username:x:UID:GID:Comment:Home Directory: Default shell

Here, x is password for the user in encrypted form (stored in /etc/shadow file)

UID, is the user id

& GID is the group id for the user.



Just like /etc/passwd, it contains information for groups with each line having information for single group. Format for entries in this file is

Group name:x:GID:members

user management

Where, x again means password in encrypted format.

Now let’s discuss commands for user & group management.


USER Management

Below mentioned are the commands that are used for user management,

Purpose                                                                                  Command

  • Adding a user                                                                 useradd dan
  • Assigning password to user                                    passwd dan
  • Changing home directory for user                      useradd dan –d /home/new
  • Setting expiry for user                                               useradd dan –e 2017-11-25
  • Addding inactive period before expiry              useradd dan –f 2
  • Changing default shell                                              useradd dan –s /bin/sh
  • Removing user                                                            userdel dan
  • Removing user with home directory                 userdel –r dan

We can also modify default settings of a user after it has bee added with usermod command

  • Setting expiry for user                                            usermod –e 2017-11-25 dan
  • Changing home directory                                      usermod –d /home/new dan
  • Changing default shell                                            usermod –s /bin/sh dan
  • Locking an account                                                     usermod –L dan
  • Unlocking a locked account                                    usermod –u dan


Group Management

Following are the commands for managing groups

  • Adding a group                                                             groupadd  linuxgroup
  • Adding user to group                                                 usermod –aG linuxgroup dan
  • Changing owner & group of a file                        chown dan:linuxgroup newfile.txt
  • Changing only owner of a file                              chown dan: newfile.txt
  • Changing only group of a file                               chown :linuxgroup newfile.txt
  • Deleting a group                                                           groupdel linuxgroup


This completes our tutorial on user & group management. We will also discuss File permissions & permission management in our future tutorial.

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