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Configuring your account


The passwd file:

  1. On a unix system, the user database file is /etc/passwd. This file keeps a list of all of the accounts on the system with some configuration data for each account.
  2. Each user has a one line entry in the passwd file; each line contains 7 fields separated by colons as follows:  
    username:password hash:uid:gid:gecos:home directory:login shell.
    The gecos data is your name,office,home phone,work phone,other
  3. A sample line from the passwd file is:
        abc:*:1004:100:Mr. Alphabet:/home/abc:/usr/bin/flin
    username:  abc
    password:  *
    userid:  1004
    groupid:  100
    name:  Mr. Alphabet
    home directory:  /home/abc
    login shell:  /usr/bin/flin

Other commands to view or change data about your account.

  1. id
    shows your userid, groupid and all groups you belong to.
  2. set
    displays the name and value of each shell variable; this includes your terminal type, your search path, your mail directory, ...
  3. chfn
    This command is used to change your personal information in the passwd file.
  4. chsh
    This command is used to change your login shell.


  1. Look at the entry in the passwd file for your account. What is your uid?
  2. Look at the entry in the passwd file for floopy. What is the shell?
  3. What is your uid; what is your current gid; what groups are you a member of?
  4. What is the name of the file that is checked for incoming mail? (MAIL) What is your terminal type?  (TERM) What is your path? (PATH)
  5. Use the chfn command to enter home and office phone numbers for your account. Look at your entry in the /etc/passwd file. Are the phone numbers stored there? Use the finger command to finger your own account. Are the phone numbers displayed?
  6. Change your login shell to /usr/bin/flin. Logout and login again. You should be running flin (a menu based shell). Check your entry in the passwd file. Was the login shell changed.

Copyright © L.M.MacEwan
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