*nix Documentation Project
·  Home
 +   man pages
·  Linux HOWTOs
·  FreeBSD Tips
·  *niX Forums

  man pages->FreeBSD man pages -> pw (8)              



NAME    [Toc]    [Back]

     pw -- create, remove, modify & display system users and groups

SYNOPSIS    [Toc]    [Back]

     pw [-V etcdir] useradd [name|uid] [-C config] [-q] [-n name] [-u uid]
	[-c comment] [-d dir] [-e date] [-p date] [-g group] [-G grouplist]
	[-m] [-k dir] [-w method] [-s shell] [-o] [-L class] [-h fd] [-N] [-P]
     pw [-V etcdir] useradd [name|uid] -D [-C config] [-q] [-b dir] [-e days]
	[-p days] [-g group] [-G grouplist] [-k dir] [-u min,max] [-i min,max]
	[-w method] [-s shell] [-y path]
     pw [-V etcdir] userdel [name|uid] [-n name] [-u uid] [-r] [-Y]
     pw [-V etcdir] usermod [name|uid] [-C config] [-q] [-n name] [-u uid]
	[-c comment] [-d dir] [-e date] [-p date] [-g group] [-G grouplist]
	[-l name] [-m] [-k dir] [-w method] [-s shell] [-L class] [-h fd] [-N]
	[-P] [-Y]
     pw [-V etcdir] usershow [name|uid] [-n name] [-u uid] [-F] [-P] [-7] [-a]
     pw [-V etcdir] usernext [-C config] [-q]
     pw [-V etcdir] groupadd [group|gid] [-C config] [-q] [-n group] [-g gid]
	[-M members] [-o] [-h fd] [-N] [-P] [-Y]
     pw [-V etcdir] groupdel [group|gid] [-n name] [-g gid] [-Y]
     pw [-V etcdir] groupmod [group|gid] [-C config] [-q] [-n name] [-g gid]
	[-l name] [-M members] [-m newmembers] [-h fd] [-N] [-P] [-Y]
     pw [-V etcdir] groupshow [group|gid] [-n name] [-g gid] [-F] [-P] [-a]
     pw [-V etcdir] groupnext [-C config] [-q]
     pw [-V etcdir] lock [name|uid] [-C config] [-q]
     pw [-V etcdir] unlock [name|uid] [-C config] [-q]

DESCRIPTION    [Toc]    [Back]

     The pw utility is a command-line based editor for the system user and
     group files, allowing the superuser an easy to use and standardized way
     of adding, modifying and removing users and groups.  Note that pw only
     operates on the local user and group files.  NIS users and groups must be
     maintained on the NIS server.  The pw utility handles updating the
     passwd, master.passwd, group and the secure and insecure password database
 files, and must be run as root.

     The first one or two keywords provided to pw on the command line provide
     the context for the remainder of the arguments.  The keywords user and
     group may be combined with add, del, mod, show, or next in any order.
     (For example, showuser, usershow, show user, and user show all mean the
     same thing.)  This flexibility is useful for interactive scripts calling
     pw for user and group database manipulation.  Following these keywords,
     you may optionally specify the user or group name or numeric id as an
     alternative to using the -n name, -u uid, -g gid options.

     The following flags are common to most or all modes of operation:

     -V etcdir	   This flag sets an alternate location for the password,
		   group and configuration files, and may be used to maintain
		   a user/group database in an alternate location.  If this
		   switch is specified, the system /etc/pw.conf will not be
		   sourced for default configuration data, but the file
		   pw.conf in the specified directory will be used instead (or
		   none, if it does not exist).  The -C flag may be used to
		   override this behaviour.  As an exception to the general
		   rule where options must follow the operation type, the -V
		   flag may be used on the command line before the operation

     -C config	   By default, pw reads the file /etc/pw.conf to obtain policy
		   information on how new user accounts and groups are to be
		   created.  The -C option specifies a different configuration
		   file.  While most of the contents of the configuration file
		   may be overridden via command-line options, it may be more
		   convenient to keep standard information in a configuration

     -q 	   Use of this option causes pw to suppress error messages,
		   which may be useful in interactive environments where it is
		   preferable to interpret status codes returned by pw rather
		   than messing up a carefully formatted display.

     -N 	   This option is available in add and modify operations, and
		   tells pw to output the result of the operation without
		   updating the user or group databases.  You may use the -P
		   option to switch between standard passwd and readable formats.

     -Y 	   Using this option with any of the update modes causes pw to
		   run make(1) after changing to the directory /var/yp.  This
		   is intended to allow automatic updating of NIS database
		   files.  If separate passwd and group files are being used
		   by NIS, then use the -y path option to specify the location
		   of the NIS passwd database so that pw will concurrently
		   update it with the system password databases.

USER OPTIONS    [Toc]    [Back]

     The following options apply to the useradd and usermod commands:

     -n name	   Specify the user/account name.

     -u uid	   Specify the user/account numeric id.

		   Usually, you only need to provide one or the other of these
		   options, as the account name will imply the uid, or vice
		   versa.  However, there are times when you need to provide
		   both.  For example, when changing the uid of an existing
		   user with usermod, or overriding the default uid when creating
 a new account.  If you wish pw to automatically allocate
 the uid to a new user with useradd, then you should
		   not use the -u option.  You may also provide either the
		   account or userid immediately after the useradd, userdel,
		   usermod or usershow keywords on the command line without
		   using the -n or -u options.

     -c comment    This field sets the contents of the passwd GECOS field,
		   which normally contains up to four comma-separated fields
		   containing the user's full name, office or location, and
		   work and home phone numbers.  These sub-fields are used by
		   convention only, however, and are optional.	If this field
		   is to contain spaces, you need to quote the comment itself
		   with double quotes `"'.  Avoid using commas in this field
		   as these are used as sub-field separators, and the colon
		   `:' character also cannot be used as this is the field separator
 for the passwd file itself.

     -d dir	   This option sets the account's home directory.  Normally,
		   you will only use this if the home directory is to be different
 from the default determined from /etc/pw.conf - normally
 /home with the account name as a subdirectory.

     -e date	   Set the account's expiration date.  Format of the date is
		   either a UNIX time in decimal, or a date in `dd-mmm-yy[yy]'
		   format, where dd is the day, mmm is the month, either in
		   numeric or alphabetic format ('Jan', 'Feb', etc) and year
		   is either a two or four digit year.	This option also
		   accepts a relative date in the form `+n[mhdwoy]' where `n'
		   is a decimal, octal (leading 0) or hexadecimal (leading 0x)
		   digit followed by the number of Minutes, Hours, Days,
		   Weeks, Months or Years from the current date at which the
		   expiration date is to be set.

     -p date	   Set the account's password expiration date.	This field is
		   similar to the account expiration date option, except that
		   it applies to forced password changes.  This is set in the
		   same manner as the -e option.

     -g group	   Set the account's primary group to the given group.	group
		   may be defined by either its name or group number.

     -G grouplist  Set additional group memberships for an account.  grouplist
		   is a comma-separated list of group names or group numbers.
		   The user's name is added to the group lists in /etc/group,
		   and removed from any groups not specified in grouplist.
		   Note: a user should not be added to their primary group
		   with grouplist.  Also, group membership changes do not take
		   effect for current user login sessions, requiring the user
		   to reconnect to be affected by the changes.

     -L class	   This option sets the login class for the user being created.
  See login.conf(5) and passwd(5) for more information
		   on user login classes.

     -m 	   This option instructs pw to attempt to create the user's
		   home directory.  While primarily useful when adding a new
		   account with useradd, this may also be of use when moving
		   an existing user's home directory elsewhere on the file
		   system.  The new home directory is populated with the contents
 of the skeleton directory, which typically contains a
		   set of shell configuration files that the user may personalize
 to taste.  When -m is used on an account with
		   usermod, existing configuration files in the user's home
		   directory are not overwritten from the skeleton files.

		   When a user's home directory is created, it will by default
		   be a subdirectory of the basehome directory as specified by
		   the -b option (see below), bearing the name of the new
		   account.  This can be overridden by the -d option on the
		   command line, if desired.

     -k dir	   Set the skeleton directory, from which basic startup and
		   configuration files are copied when the user's home directory
 is created.  This option only has meaning when used
		   with the -d or -m flags.

     -s shell	   Set or changes the user's login shell to shell.  If the
		   path to the shell program is omitted, pw searches the
		   shellpath specified in /etc/pw.conf and fills it in as
		   appropriate.  Note that unless you have a specific reason
		   to do so, you should avoid specifying the path - this will
		   allow pw to validate that the program exists and is executable.
  Specifying a full path (or supplying a blank ""
		   shell) avoids this check and allows for such entries as
		   /nonexistent that should be set for accounts not intended
		   for interactive login.

     -h fd	   This option provides a special interface by which interactive
 scripts can set an account password using pw.  Because
		   the command line and environment are fundamentally insecure
		   mechanisms by which programs can accept information, pw
		   will only allow setting of account and group passwords via
		   a file descriptor (usually a pipe between an interactive
		   script and the program).  sh, bash, ksh and perl all possess
 mechanisms by which this can be done.  Alternatively,
		   pw will prompt for the user's password if -h 0 is given,
		   nominating stdin as the file descriptor on which to read
		   the password.  Note that this password will be read only
		   once and is intended for use by a script rather than for
		   interactive use.  If you wish to have new password confirmation
 along the lines of passwd(1), this must be implemented
 as part of an interactive script that calls pw.

		   If a value of `-' is given as the argument fd, then the
		   password will be set to `*', rendering the account inaccessible
 via password-based login.

     It is possible to use useradd to create a new account that duplicates an
     existing user id.	While this is normally considered an error and will be
     rejected, the -o option overrides the check for duplicates and allows the
     duplication of the user id.  This may be useful if you allow the same
     user to login under different contexts (different group allocations, different
 home directory, different shell) while providing basically the
     same permissions for access to the user's files in each account.

     The useradd command also has the ability to set new user and group
     defaults by using the -D option.  Instead of adding a new user, pw writes
     a new set of defaults to its configuration file, /etc/pw.conf.  When
     using the -D option, you must not use either -n name or -u uid or an
     error will result.  Use of -D changes the meaning of several command line
     switches in the useradd command.  These are:

     -D 	   Set default values in /etc/pw.conf configuration file, or a
		   different named configuration file if the -C config option
		   is used.

     -b dir	   Set the root directory in which user home directories are
		   created.  The default value for this is /home, but it may
		   be set elsewhere as desired.

     -e days	   Set the default account expiration period in days.  Unlike
		   use without -D, the argument must be numeric, which specifies
 the number of days after creation when the account is
		   to expire.  A value of 0 suppresses automatic calculation
		   of the expiry date.

     -p days	   Set the default password expiration period in days.

     -g group	   Set the default group for new users.  If a blank group is
		   specified using -g "", then new users will be allocated
		   their own private primary group with the same name as their
		   login name.	If a group is supplied, either its name or uid
		   may be given as an argument.

     -G grouplist  Set the default groups in which new users are granted membership.
  This is a separate set of groups from the primary
		   group, and you should avoid nominating the same group as
		   both primary and extra groups.  In other words, these extra
		   groups determine membership in groups other than the primary
 group.	grouplist is a comma-separated list of group
		   names or ids, and are always stored in /etc/pw.conf by
		   their symbolic names.

     -L class	   This option sets the default login class for new users.

     -k dir	   Set the default skeleton directory, from which prototype
		   shell and other initialization files are copied when pw
		   creates a user's home directory.

     -u min,max, -i min,max
		   These options set the minimum and maximum user and group
		   ids allocated for new accounts and groups created by pw.
		   The default values for each is 1000 minimum and 32000 maximum.
  min and max are both numbers, where max must be
		   greater than min, and both must be between 0 and 32767.  In
		   general, user and group ids less than 100 are reserved for
		   use by the system, and numbers greater than 32000 may also
		   be reserved for special purposes (used by some system daemons).

     -w method	   The -w option sets the default method used to set passwords
		   for newly created user accounts.  method is one of:

			 no	 disable login on newly created accounts
			 yes	 force the password to be the account name
			 none	 force a blank password
			 random  generate a random password

		   The `random' or `no' methods are the most secure; in the
		   former case, pw generates a password and prints it to stdout,
 which is suitable where you issue users with passwords
		   to access their accounts rather than having the user nominate
 their own (possibly poorly chosen) password.  The `no'
		   method requires that the superuser use passwd(1) to render
		   the account accessible with a password.

     -y path	   This sets the pathname of the database used by NIS if you
		   are not sharing the information from /etc/master.passwd
		   directly with NIS.  You should only set this option for NIS

     The userdel command has only three valid options.	The -n name and -u uid
     options have already been covered above.  The additional option is:

     -r 	   This tells pw to remove the user's home directory and all
		   of its contents.  The pw utility errs on the side of caution
 when removing files from the system.  Firstly, it will
		   not do so if the uid of the account being removed is also
		   used by another account on the system, and the 'home'
		   directory in the password file is a valid path that commences
 with the character `/'.  Secondly, it will only
		   remove files and directories that are actually owned by the
		   user, or symbolic links owned by anyone under the user's
		   home directory.  Finally, after deleting all contents owned
		   by the user only empty directories will be removed.	If any
		   additional cleanup work is required, this is left to the

     Mail spool files and crontabs are always removed when an account is
     deleted as these are unconditionally attached to the user name.  Jobs
     queued for processing by at are also removed if the user's uid is unique
     and not also used by another account on the system.

     The usershow command allows viewing of an account in one of two formats.
     By default, the format is identical to the format used in
     /etc/master.passwd with the password field replaced with a `*'.  If the
     -P option is used, then pw outputs the account details in a more human
     readable form.  If the -7 option is used, the account details are shown
     in v7 format.  The -a option lists all users currently on file.  Using -F
     forces pw to print the details of an account even if it does not exist.

     The command usernext returns the next available user and group ids separated
 by a colon.	This is normally of interest only to interactive
     scripts or front-ends that use pw.

GROUP OPTIONS    [Toc]    [Back]

     The -C and -q options (explained at the start of the previous section)
     are available with the group manipulation commands.  Other common options
     to all group-related commands are:

     -n name	    Specify the group name.

     -g gid	    Specify the group numeric id.

		    As with the account name and id fields, you will usually
		    only need to supply one of these, as the group name
		    implies the uid and vice versa.  You will only need to use
		    both when setting a specific group id against a new group
		    or when changing the uid of an existing group.

     -M memberlist  This option provides an alternative way to add existing
		    users to a new group (in groupadd) or replace an existing
		    membership list (in groupmod).  memberlist is a comma separated
 list of valid and existing user names or uids.

     -m newmembers  Similar to -M, this option allows the addition of existing
		    users to a group without replacing the existing list of
		    members.  Login names or user ids may be used, and duplicate
 users are silently eliminated.

     groupadd also has a -o option that allows allocation of an existing group
     id to a new group.  The default action is to reject an attempt to add a
     group, and this option overrides the check for duplicate group ids.
     There is rarely any need to duplicate a group id.

     The groupmod command adds one additional option:

     -l name	    This option allows changing of an existing group name to
		    `name'.  The new name must not already exist, and any
		    attempt to duplicate an existing group name will be

     Options for groupshow are the same as for usershow, with the -g gid
     replacing -u uid to specify the group id.	The -7 option does not apply
     to the groupshow command.

     The command groupnext returns the next available group id on standard

USER LOCKING    [Toc]    [Back]

     The pw utility supports a simple password locking mechanism for users; it
     works by prepending the string `*LOCKED*' to the beginning of the password
 field in master.passwd to prevent successful authentication.

     The lock and unlock commands take a user name or uid of the account to
     lock or unlock, respectively.  The -V, -C, and -q options as described
     above are accepted by these commands.

DIAGNOSTICS    [Toc]    [Back]

     The pw utility returns EXIT_SUCCESS on successful operation, otherwise pw
     returns one of the following exit codes defined by sysexits(3) as follows:

	   +o   Command line syntax errors (invalid keyword, unknown option).

	   +o   Attempting to run one of the update modes as non-root.

	   +o   Memory allocation error.
	   +o   Read error from password file descriptor.

	   +o   Bad or invalid data provided or missing on the command line or
	       via the password file descriptor.
	   +o   Attempted to remove, rename root account or change its uid.

	   +o   Skeleton directory is invalid or does not exist.
	   +o   Base home directory is invalid or does not exist.
	   +o   Invalid or non-existent shell specified.

	   +o   User, user id, group or group id specified does not exist.
	   +o   User or group recorded, added, or modified unexpectedly disappeared.

	   +o   No more group or user ids available within specified range.

	   +o   Unable to rewrite configuration file.
	   +o   Error updating group or user database files.
	   +o   Update error for passwd or group database files.

	   +o   No base home directory configured.

NOTES    [Toc]    [Back]

     For a summary of options available with each command, you can use
	   pw [command] help
     For example,
	   pw useradd help
     lists all available options for the useradd operation.

     The pw utility allows 8-bit characters in the passwd GECOS field (user's
     full name, office, work and home phone number subfields), but disallows
     them in user login and group names.  Use 8-bit characters with caution,
     as connection to the Internet will require that your mail transport program
 supports 8BITMIME, and will convert headers containing 8-bit characters
 to 7-bit quoted-printable format.  sendmail(8) does support this.
     Use of 8-bit characters in the GECOS field should be used in conjunction
     with the user's default locale and character set and should not be implemented
 without their use.	Using 8-bit characters may also affect other
     programs that transmit the contents of the GECOS field over the Internet,
     such as fingerd(8), and a small number of TCP/IP clients, such as IRC,
     where full names specified in the passwd file may be used by default.

     The pw utility writes a log to the /var/log/userlog file when actions
     such as user or group additions or deletions occur.  The location of this
     logfile can be changed in pw.conf(5).

FILES    [Toc]    [Back]

     /etc/master.passwd      The user database
     /etc/passwd	     A Version 7 format password file
     /etc/login.conf	     The user capabilities database
     /etc/group 	     The group database
     /etc/master.passwd.new  Temporary copy of the master password file
     /etc/passwd.new	     Temporary copy of the Version 7 password file
     /etc/group.new	     Temporary copy of the group file
     /etc/pw.conf	     Pw default options file
     /var/log/userlog	     User/group modification logfile

SEE ALSO    [Toc]    [Back]

     chpass(1), passwd(1), group(5), login.conf(5), passwd(5), pw.conf(5),
     pwd_mkdb(8), vipw(8)

HISTORY    [Toc]    [Back]

     The pw utility was written to mimic many of the options used in the SYSV
     shadow support suite, but is modified for passwd and group fields specific
 to the 4.4BSD operating system, and combines all of the major elements
 into a single command.

FreeBSD 5.2.1		       December 9, 1996 		 FreeBSD 5.2.1
[ Back ]
 Similar pages
Name OS Title
swjob HP-UX display and monitor job information and create and remove jobs; invoke graphical user interface to display and
sd HP-UX display and monitor job information and create and remove jobs; invoke graphical user interface to display and
rmuser FreeBSD remove users from the system
vxedit HP-UX create, remove, and modify VERITAS Volume Manager records
ftpchroot FreeBSD list users and groups subject to FTP access restrictions
vgdisplay HP-UX display information about LVM volume groups
mesg OpenBSD display (do not display) messages from other users
mesg FreeBSD display (do not display) messages from other users
w OpenBSD display users who are logged on and what they are doing
lagconfig Tru64 Configures or displays link aggregation groups (or trunk groups)
Copyright © 2004-2005 DeniX Solutions SRL
newsletter delivery service