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Linux Basics Series – #1 – Creating User Accounts and Managing Groups In Linux

This is the first part in a series on LInux Basics. Today, I’m going to give you a brief run-down on creating user accounts and creating groups from the linux command line. These aren’t difficult tasks, but often times it’s good to refresh the basics and have a reference to go back to. So, here we go.

How to add a user account

Creating a user account is a very straight forward process and nearly identical for all Linux distributions.

#  useradd username

Some distributions, such as Ubuntu, might have the root account disabled. If so, you will need to use sudo to gain root privileges to run a specific command. If you get a permission denied error, simply run this command instead.

#  sudo useradd username

How to set or change a password

Once you’ve created a user account, you will need to set a password. To do so, use the passwd command.

#  passwd username
Enter new UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:


#  sudo passwd username
Enter new UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:

How to create a new group

Creating a group is very simple. To do so, use the groupadd command.

#  groupadd groupname


#  sudo groupadd groupname

Add a user to group

To add an existing user to an additional (supplemental) existing group, use the usermod command.

#  usermod -a -G groupname username


#  sudo usermod -a -G groupname username

In the above command, the -a option tells usermod you want to add a user and the -G options specifies what you want to add the user to, i.e. a group.

Change a user’s primary group

Changing a user’s primary group is also done with the usermod command. To do so, run the command below.

#  usermod -g groupname username


#  sudo usermod -g groupname username

The -g options tells usermod to change the user’s primary group.

To view what groups a user belongs to

If you need to see what groups an existing user belongs to, and what their UID is, you would use the id command.

#  id username

To delete a user account

If you need to delete a user’s account, you will use the userdel command.

#  userdel username


#  sudo userdel username

If you want to delete the users home directory at the same time, you can use the -r option.

#  userdel -r username


#  sudo userdel -r username

The -r option tells userdel to delete the user’s home directory, and the user’s account.

To remove a group

Removing a group is simple process. To do so you would use the groupdel command.

#  groupdel groupname


#  sudo groupdel groupname

There are many graphical utilities to perform user and group management related tasks and these vary from distribution to distribution. To obtain more information on the commands we used in this article simply load the corresponding man pages for each command. You can do so using the following commands.

#  man useradd
#  man usermod
#  man groupadd
#  man userdel
#  man groupdel

You can also use the -help option on most commands. This gives you a more consolidated, quicker way to get help.

Screen Shot 2015-05-16 at 10.26.43 PM

Working with users and groups from the command line is a very straight forward process. It is mostly the same on all Linux and BSD operating systems. If you need help or have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below. Thanks!

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