Linux : how to search for a user and delete his account

c_hockland used Ask the Experts™
Hi , i have 50 servers and i need to look for a specific account h80613 ( hs name is Jimmy) and if found on any file etc/pawwd , etc/sudoers , i need the account removed.

whats the easiest way to do this ?
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userdel h80613


will that remove the entry from all files ?
Seth SimmonsSr. Systems Administrator

it will remove the account and from /etc/passwd
any files or folders the user owned will only show UID/GID since the mapped user name is gone
also need to manually remove sudo access
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in case you want to delete home directly with it use

#userdel -r <userame>



userdel -r username will help with part of that, but if the user create any file on an other path i won't be removed

so i will do the following:

userdel -r username -- > remove user and his home directory

find / -user h80613  -exec rm -rf {} \; -- will look for everything that own to that user and then delete it .

I hope this helps
@Pepe2323 - If you delete the user first, your find command will not return any results because the user doesnt exist and permissions will show his/her UID and GUID.

You can do them in reverse and it will work.

savone rocks
Dave GouldOnsite Support

I think you've missed the main point though. The OP needs to do this on 50 servers. I presume he wants to centralise the work. If this is true, we need to know if he has any platform installed for centralised package managment or if ssh keys have been exchanged between servers in order to run a script from a single server.
Also, he mentioned /etc/sudoers. Deleting the user will not remove him from this file either so that would be a manual job. This could be done using sed but people always say not to manually update this file. It is recommended to use visudo.
If the user account created files in another path, you might just want to archive it or chown it rather than remove it.  I don't delete user content when the account is disabled.  I'm required to save it, so it really depends on what required.

If the /etc/sudo files are identical, he could run visudo on one system and then scp or rsync it over to the other 49.

visudo, vipw, userdel, and useradd are recommended to prevent errors in file formatting.  If you are absolutely sure about the edits, you could just edit the files directly or replace them.

Newer admins with less knowledge of the inner workings of the system should definitely use visudo, vipw, useradd, and userdel.


my boss gave me this one as a hint

for x in `< servers_linux`; do echo ""; echo $x; ssh -l h10267 $x "grep h66148 /etc/passwd"; done

where servers_linux is the file that contains the names of all ( 50 ) servers

so i guess if his accoutn exists in /etc/passwd i will go and take the account out of passwd , sudo etc...

The /etc/sudo files are not identical   :-(
That just looks for the account in /etc/password.  You can keep it simple and use that same line with userdel instead of grep.  If the account doesn't exist, it just returns an exit code of 6

Do you have root access?  While you can view /etc/password as a user, you can't delete a user without either sudo or root access.

for x in `< servers_linux`; do echo ""; echo $x; ssh  root@$x "userdel h66148"; done

The sudoers file will require some more checking, but you should be able to use sed to either remove entry.  You can run a test first  with  sed s/h10267// /etc/sudoers to see what it will do, then when you're certain, add the -i option to change the file in place.

for x in `< servers_linux`; do echo ""; echo $x; ssh root@$x "userdel h66148; sed -i s/h1267// /etc/sudoers"; done

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