Network Administration: Linux User Accounts

One of the most common Linux system network administration tasks is adding a user account. The Setup Agent prompts you to create a user account the first time you start Linux after installing it. However, you’ll probably need to create additional accounts.

Each Linux user account has the following information associated with it:

  • Username: The name the user types to log on to the Linux system.

  • Full name: The user’s full name.

  • Home directory: The directory that the user is placed in when he or she logs on. In Fedora, the default home directory is /home/username. For example, if the username is blowe, the home directory will be /home/blowe.

  • Shell: The program used to process Linux commands. Several shell programs are available. In most distributions, the default shell is /bin/bash.

  • Group: You can create group accounts, which make it easy to apply identical access rights to groups of users.

  • User ID: The internal identifier for the user.

You can add a new user by using the useradd command. For example, to create a user account named slowe, using default values for the other account information, open a Terminal window or switch to a virtual console and type this command:

# useradd slowe

The useradd command has many optional parameters that you can use to set account information, such as the user’s home directory and shell.

Fortunately, most Linux distributions come with special programs that simplify routine system management tasks. Fedora is no exception. It comes with a program called User Manager, as shown in the following illustration. To start this program, choose System→Administration→User and Groups.

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To create a user with User Manager, click the Add User button. This brings up a dialog box that asks for the user’s name, password, and other information. Fill out this dialog box and then click OK.

The User Manager also lets you create groups. You can simplify the task of administering users by applying access rights to groups rather than individual users. Then, when a user needs access to a resource, you can add the user to the group that has the needed access.

To create a group, click the Add Group button. A dialog box appears, asking for the name of the new group. Type the name you want and then click OK.

To add a user to a group, click the Groups tab in the User Manager. Then, double-click the group to which you want to add users. This brings up the Group Properties dialog box. Click the Group Users tab and then select the users that you want to belong to the group.