chpass, chfn, chsh - add or change user database information
chpass [-ly] [-a list] [-s newshell] [user]
chpass allows editing of the user database information associated with
user, or, by default, the current user. The information is
supplied to an editor for changes.
Only the information that the user is allowed to change is
If YP is enabled change requests are first tried in the local database,
and then in the YP database, if there was no entry to change
chfn and chsh are synonyms for chpass.
The options are as follows:
The superuser is allowed to directly supply a user
in the format specified by passwd(5), as an argument. This
argument must be a colon (`:') separated list of all
database fields, although they may be empty. This
not supported in YP environments; only local additions can be
performed which requires the -l flag to be specified.
-l In environments where YP is enabled, always alter
as opposed to information in YP.
Attempts to change the user's shell to newshell.
-y In environments where YP is enabled, always change
the YP entry,
even if this is a modification request and there is
a local entry
for the specified user.
Possible display items are as follows:
Login: user's login name
Password: user's encrypted password
Uid: user's login
Gid: user's login group
Change: password change time
Expire: account expiration time
Class: user's general classification
Home Directory: user's home directory
Shell: user's login shell
Full Name: user's real name
Office Location: user's office location
Office Phone: user's office phone
Home Phone: user's home phone
The login field is the user name used to access the computer
The password field contains the encrypted form of the user's
The uid field is the number associated with the login field.
these fields should be unique across the system (and often
across a group
of systems) as they control file access.
While it is possible to have multiple entries with identical
and/or identical user IDs, it is usually a mistake to do so.
that manipulate these files will often return only one of
entries, and that one by random selection.
The group field is the group that the user will be placed in
Since BSD supports multiple groups (see groups(1)), this
has little special meaning. This field may be filled in
with either a
number or a group name (see group(5)).
The change field is the date by which the password must be
The expire field is the date on which the account expires.
Both the change and expire fields should be entered in the
day year'' where month is the month name (the first three
sufficient), day is the day of the month, and year is the
The class field specifies a key in the login.conf(5)
database of login
class attributes. If empty, the ``default'' record is used.
The user's home directory is the full UNIX path name where
the user will
be placed at login.
The shell field is the command interpreter the user prefers.
shell field is empty, the Bourne shell (/bin/sh) is assumed.
a login shell, and not the superuser, the user may not
change from a
non-standard shell or to a non-standard shell. Non-standard
as a shell not found in /etc/shells.
The last four fields are for storing the user's full name,
location, and work and home telephone numbers.
Once the information has been verified, chpass uses
pwd_mkdb(8) to update
the user database.
The vi(1) editor will be used unless the environment variable EDITOR is
set to an alternate editor. When the editor terminates, the
is re-read and used to update the user database itself. Only the user,
or the superuser, may edit the information associated with
/etc/master.passwd user database
/etc/passwd a Version 7 format password file
/etc/ptmp lock file for the passwd database
/etc/shells list of approved shells
/var/tmp/pw.XXXXXXXXXX temporary copy of the user passwd
Attempting lock password file, please wait or press ^C to
The password file is currently locked by another process;
keep trying to lock the password file until it succeeds or
the user hits
the interrupt character (control-C by default). If chpass
while trying to gain the lock any changes made will be lost.
If the process holding the lock was prematurely terminated
the lock file
may be stale and chpass will wait forever trying to lock the
file. To determine whether a live process is actually holding the lock,
the admin may run the following:
$ fstat /etc/ptmp
If no process is listed, it is safe to remove the /etc/ptmp
file to clear
finger(1), login(1), passwd(1), getusershell(3), login.conf(5),
passwd(5), pwd_mkdb(8), vipw(8)
Robert Morris and Ken Thompson, UNIX Password Security.
The chpass command appeared in 4.3BSD-Reno.
User information should (and eventually will) be stored
OpenBSD 3.6 December 30, 1993
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