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How TO Manage Groups Ad User on linux

Linux Admin - User Managemen

When discussing user management, we have three important terms to understand −




We have already discussed in-depth permissions as applied to files and folders. In this chapter, let's discuss about users and groups.

CentOS Users

In CentOS, there are two types accounts – 

System accounts Used for a daemon or other piece of software.

 Interactive accounts Usually assigned to a user for accessing system resources.

The main difference between the two user types is −

System accounts are used by daemons to access files and directories. These will usually be disallowed from interactive login via shell or physical console login..

Interactive accounts are used by end-users to access computing resources from either a shell or physical console login.

With this basic understanding of users, let's now create a new user for Bob Jones in the Accounting Department. A new user is added with the adduser command.

Following are some adduser common switches −




Adds comment to the user account


Creates user home directory in default location, if nonexistent


Default group to assign the user


Does not create a private group for the user, usually a group with username


Does not create a home directory


Default shell other than /bin/bash


Specifies UID (otherwise assigned by the system)


Additional groups to assign the user to

When creating a new user, use the -c, -m, -g, -n switches as follows −

[root@localhost Downloads]# useradd -c "Bob deep Accounting Dept Manager" -m -g accounting -n deep

Now let's see if our new user has been created −

[root@localhost deep123]# grep Dell /etc/passwd

Dell:x:1001:1001:Dell  Accounting Dept Manager:/home/bjones:/bin/bash

Now we need to enable the new account using the passwd command −

[root@localhost deep123]#

The user account is not enabled allowing the user to log into the system.

Disabling User Accounts

There are several methods to disable accounts on a system. These range from editing the /etc/passwd file by hand. Or even using the passwd command with the -lswitch. Both of thes methods have one big drawback: if the user has ssh access and uses an RSA key for authentication, they can still login using this method.

Now let’s use the chage command, changing the password expiry date to a previous date. Also, it may be good to make a note on the account as to why we disabled it.

[root@localhost Dell]# chage -E 2005-10-01 Dell

[root@localhost Dell]# usermod -c "Disabled Account while Bob out of the country

> for five months" Dell

[root@localhost Dell]# # grep Dell /etc/passwd

Dell:x:1001:1001:Disabled Account while Bob out of the country for four months:/home/bjones:/bin/bash

Manage Groups

Managing groups in Linux makes it convenient for an administrator to combine the users within containers applying permission-sets applicable to all group members. For example, all users in Accounting may need access to the same files. Thus, we make an accounting group, adding Accounting users.

For the most part, anything requiring special permissions should be done in a group. This approach will usually save time over applying special permissions to just one user. Example, 

Following are some common commands used for managing groups -





chgrp − Changes the group ownership for a file or directory. Let's make a directory for people in the accounting group to store files and create directories for files.

[root@localhost Dell]#

Next, let's give group ownership to the accounting group.

[root@localhost Dell]# chgrp -v accounting /home/accounting/

changed group of ‘/home/accounting/’ from root to accounting

[root@localhost Dell]#   ls -ld /home/accounting/ drwxr-xr-x. 2 root accounting 6 Jan 13 10:18 /home/accounting/

[root@localhost Dell]#

Now, everyone in the accounting group has read and execute permissions to /home/accounting. They will need write permissions as well

[root@localhost Dell]# chmod g+w /home/accounting/

drwxrwxr-x. 2 root accounting 6 Jan 13 10:18 /home/accounting/

[root@localhost Dell]#

Since the accounting group may deal with sensitive documents, we need to apply some restrictive permissions for other or world.

[root@localhost Dell]#

[root@localhost Dell]# chmod o-rx /home/accounting

drwxrwx---. 2 root accounting 6 Jan 13 10:18 /home/accounting/

[root@localhost Dell]#

groupadd − Used to make a new group.




Specifies a GID for the group


Overrides specs for GID in /etc/login.defs


Allows overriding non-unique group id disallowance






Group password, allowing the users to activate themselves

Let's make a new group called secret. We will add a password to the group, allowing the users to add themselves with a known password.

[root@localhost Dell]# gpasswd secret

Changing the password for group secret

New Password:

 Re-enter new password:

[root@localhost Dell]#exit


In practice, passwords for groups are not used often. Secondary groups are adequate and sharing passwords amongst other users is not a great security practice. The groups command is used to show which group a user belongs to. We will use this, after making some changes to our current user. usermod is used to update account attributes. Following are the common usermod switches.




Appends, adds user to supplementary groups, only with the -G option


Comment, updatesthe user comment value


Home directory, updates the user's home directory


Groups, adds or removesthe secondary user groups


Group, default primary group of the user

[root@localhost Dell]#


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