Disable user

Posted on 2007-08-11
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-21
1) What is the best way to disable a user in Solaris?
2) What would be the impact if I just commented a user in /etc/passwd? Do you think this is a good practice?
Question by:kecoak

Expert Comment

ID: 19675467
This is a good practice and would disable the user. I used to do it, and it worked fine.
This will "disappear" the user. All his files will be owned by an unused UID, etc. But it works, and easily reversible.
LVL 14

Accepted Solution

arthurjb earned 2000 total points
ID: 19676154
I disagree.  It is poor practice to have comment lines in your working passwd files.

Remember that the passwd and shadow files both control user access.

If the user has files located in various places around the machine, then it becomes tougher to determine the owner of the files.  And if that user was a power user with cron scripts and such, then you could impact other users and functions.

If the user is someone who you no longer want to login to the machine, then the quickest and easiest way is run;

passwd -l username

This assumes that it is a single machine not using nis or nis plus.  The command;

man passwd

will give you more detailed information.


Expert Comment

ID: 19676168
I would disagree. Although files remain in the system, the user is, de facto, disabled.
You can also change the default user's shell to something like /bin/false or the likes, which will achieve similar effect (noe disabled, but cannot login).  
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 19676222
My disagreement is with commenting out the user.

locking the account with the passwd command is the proper way to disable the user.

Changing the shell is not necessary if the user has been locked using the passwd command.  It is a common practice when you want to allow a user ftp access while not allowing shell access.

Of course if this system is using nis, nis plus or ldap, then there are other considerations, since the intended user may not even be in the local passwd file...

I assume that the original questioner will tell us more.

Author Comment

ID: 19677637
No NIS or whatever ... just a local machine. What would happen to passwd and shadow file if you type passwd -l username? Will it get deleted? or has somekind of mark telling us that the account has been disabled?
LVL 14

Expert Comment

ID: 19677765

It will put the string;


in the shadow file.

LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 19678171
Just as a further comment, unless absolutely necessary it is EXTREMELY bad form to manually edit /etc/passwd.  You should go through the proper commands for any changes.

Too many ways to effectively lock yourself including root out of the system.

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