Managing Users & Groups in RedHat

Managing Users in Linux

User management in Linux refers to the process of creating, modifying, and deleting user accounts on a Linux system. It includes tasks such as creating new user accounts, modifying user account settings, assigning users to specific user groups, and managing user account permissions.

In Linux, each user account has a unique user ID (UID) and a username. The UID is used by the system to identify the user, and the username is used by the user to log in to the system and access resources.

User management in Linux is typically performed using command-line tools such as useradd, usermod, and userdel, although there are also graphical tools available for managing users in some Linux distributions.

Managing user accounts on a Linux system is an important aspect of system administration, as it allows administrators to control access to resources and ensure system security.

How to get user information

Getting relevant user information can be done in a few different ways.

  1. id: The id command displays the user ID (UID) and group ID (GID) of the current user.
  2. whoami: The whoami command displays the username of the current user.
  3. w: The w command displays a list of users currently logged in to the system, including their usernames, the terminal they are logged in from, and the time they logged in.
  4. finger: The finger command displays detailed information about a specific user, including their full name, home directory, login shell, and the time they last logged in.
  5. /etc/passwd: The /etc/passwd file contains information about all users on the system, including their usernames, UIDs, home directories, and login shells.
  6. /etc/group: The /etc/group file contains information about all groups on the system, including their names, GIDs, and the usernames of their members.

How to change User Information

The easiest way to change user information is by using the usermod command.

c – Modify the user’s password file comment field

d – Change the user’s home directory. Often used with the flag, which moves files from the current home dir to the new one

G – Change the user’s supplemental groups. Often used with the flag which appends, rather than replaces, the supplemental groups.

L, U – Lock or Unlock the account (respectively)

How to create a User

Before we go into creating a user, we should be aware of where user information is kept.

  1. /etc/passwd: This file contains information about all users on the system, including their usernames, user ID (UID), group ID (GID), home directory, and login shell.
  2. /etc/shadow: This file contains the encrypted passwords for all users on the system.
  3. /etc/group: This file contains information about all groups on the system, including their names and group ID (GID), and the usernames of their members.
  4. /etc/sudoers: This file contains the configuration for the sudo command, which allows users to run commands with elevated privileges.
  5. /home: This directory contains the home directories for each user on the system. Each user has a subdirectory in /home with the same name as their username.
  6. /root: This is the home directory for the root user.
  7. /etc/gshadow: This file contains encrypted group passwords and group administrators for each group on the system. Only privileged users, such as the root user, can access this file.
  8. /etc/skel: This directory contains files and directories that are copied to a new user’s home directory when the user account is created. These files and directories are used to create a basic environment for the user.
  9. /etc/login.defs: This file contains default settings for user accounts on the system, such as the minimum and maximum password age, the maximum number of login attempts, and the default shell for new users.

On Red Hat systems you can use the useradd command to create new users.

ShellScript
useradd [option] [login-name]

c – Text string that is entered into the comment field in /etc/passwd

g – set the GID

d – Set the home directory

G – set supplemental groups

k – Set the skeleton directory

p – Set the user’s password to this encrypted password.

r – create a system account

s – Set the user’s login shell

u – set the UID

Useradd examples

ShellScript
useradd -D

This displays the default options when creating a user

ShellScript
sudo useradd testuser1

This creates a user called testuser1

ShellScript
sudo useradd -m -c "Test User Three" -g testers -G admin testuser3

This creates a new user called testuser3 with:

m creates a home drive

c add user info of “test user three”

g is the primary group

G is the secondary group

UserAdd One-liners

Here are some fancy bash oneliners to create users on Linux:

Create a user with a home directory and a specified shell:

ShellScript
sudo useradd -m -s /bin/bash username

This creates a new user with the username username, creates a home directory for the user, and sets the user’s login shell to /bin/bash.

Create a user with a custom UID and GID:

ShellScript
sudo useradd -u <uid> -g <gid> username

This creates a new user with the username username, and sets the user’s UID to <uid> and GID to <gid>. You can replace <uid> and <gid> with the desired values.

Create a user and set a password:

ShellScript
sudo useradd -m -s /bin/bash username && echo "username:password" | sudo chpasswd

This creates a new user with the username username, creates a home directory for the user, and sets the user’s login shell to /bin/bash. It then sets the user’s password to password. You should replace password with the actual desired password for the user.

Create a user with an expiry date:

ShellScript
sudo useradd -m -s /bin/bash -e 2023-03-31 username

This creates a new user with the username username, creates a home directory for the user, and sets the user’s login shell to /bin/bash. It also sets the user’s account to expire on March 31st, 2023. You can replace the date with the desired expiry date for the user.

Elsewhere On TurboGeek:  Grep and RegEx One-Liners

Note: Remember to replace username with the actual desired username for the user.

Password Management

Setting password requirements is essential in today’s world full of security vulnerabilities.

There are two areas to look at when considering password requirements

1) Expiration/Longevity of a password

2) Actual password requirements

Longevity of a Password

More chage flags to be aware of: 

chage [-option]

E – Set the date when the user account will be locked out, requiring administrator intervention. -1 will mean the account never expires. 

W – How many days before expiration will a user receive a warning that the password will expire 

Password Complexity 

Regardless of how often you require users to reset passwords, you’ll end up with weak passwords. Enforcing password complexity will remove some of that risk. Password complexity is important to enforce and is done so using the pam_pwquality module.

Managing Groups

Getting Group Information 

Groups allow us to group users for a set of permissions. Getting relevant group information can be done in a few different ways. 

  • the id command
  • the getent command
  • Manually looking at /etc/passwd, /etc/shadow and/etc/group

Adding Groups 

You may find it necessary to add groups to your server manually. It’s relatively easy to do so using the groupadd command. g – specify the Group ID 

ShellScript
groupadd geeks -y 1337

Changing a User’s Groups 

usermod can be used to change a user’s primary group and a user’s supplementary groups. A user can have a single primary group but any number of supplementary groups. 

ShellScript
usermod [options]

g – change a user’s primary group 

G – change a user’s supplementary group.

a  – flag can be used to append a group rather than replace it. 

Using Supplementary Groups 

Directories can be set to restrict access to members of a specific group. 

Changing Group Information 

The easiest way to change group information is by using the groupmod command. g – Change the Group ID n – Change the name of a group

This is part 7 of the Red Hat series of blogs. this is another big topic, managing users and groups. These commands have been tested on RHEL 7 and 8.

RHCSA MiniSeries 

Part 1 – How to use Grep and Regular Expressions (RegEx)

Part 2 – How to manipulate files in RedHat

Part 3 – Red Hat Permissions

Part 4 – How to change the root password on Red Hat

Part 5 – How to use Red Hat as a virtual machine host

Part 6 – How to configure local storage

Part 7 – how to manage users and groups in Red Hat Linux

Part 8 – how to configure NTP Network Time Protocol in Red Hat

Richard.Bailey

Richard Bailey, a seasoned tech enthusiast, combines a passion for innovation with a knack for simplifying complex concepts. With over a decade in the industry, he's pioneered transformative solutions, blending creativity with technical prowess. An avid writer, Richard's articles resonate with readers, offering insightful perspectives that bridge the gap between technology and everyday life. His commitment to excellence and tireless pursuit of knowledge continues to inspire and shape the tech landscape.

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  1. 19/10/2022

    […] Part 7 – how to manage users and groups in Red Hat Linux […]

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