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User Account Management

useradd Command Examples

The useradd command lets a superuser create a new user account on Linux. Here's how to use the useradd command with various options.

The useradd command lets a superuser create a new user account in Linux.

It is a low level utility that doesn’t do a lot of things by default but provides several options to create users with various configuration.

Here’s the syntax of useradd command:

useradd [options] username

Let’s see how to use useradd command.

Keep in mind that you need to be root or a sudo user in order to use this command.

Add a new user in Linux with useradd command

You can use the useradd command without any options like this:

useradd new_username

It will create the user account but:

  • the user’s home directory won’t be created
  • the password has to be set separately
  • the default shell for the user will be sh

You can set a password for this new user account using the passwd command:

passwd new_username

You can also create home directory while creating the user.

Add a user with home directory with useradd command

The -m option of useradd command allows to copy all files from your system skeleton directory (/etc/skel) to the newly created home directory.

In other words, you can create a user with home directory using the -m option as well.

useradd -m new_username

You can also specify an existing directory as the home directory of the newly created user with option -d.

useradd -d Path_to_Existing_Directory new_username

Add a new user with a different shell

The default shell for a user created with useradd command is sh. These days sh shell is hardly used when there is bash and zsh.

A user can change his/er default shell but you can also create the user with a different default shell with the option -s.

For example, if you want the new user to use bash as the default shell, here’s what you can do:

useradd -s /bin/bash new_username

Add a new user with different group

Usually, when you create a new user, a group with the same name as the user is created. The new user is added as the member of this group.

With the option -g, you can add a new user to an already existing group as its default group.

useradd -g Existing_Group_Name_or_ID new_username

Suppose you are creating an account for a developer. Adding all the developers to a ‘dev group’ could be a strategy.

You can also add the user to additional (existing) groups with option -G.

useradd -G group_1 group_2 new_username

So if you are creating a sudo user, you can simply add the user to the sudo group while creating it.

Add a new user with specific user ID (UID)

You may also create a new user with a specific user ID with the option -u of useradd command:

useradd -u uid new_username

Please read this article to know more about UID in Linux.

What is UID in Linux? How to Find UID of a User?
This Linux Basics guide teaches you everything important associated with UID in Linux.

Bonus Tip: Combine multiple options to create a new user with different parameters

You can combine multiple options together to create a new user in Linux with a predefined configuration.

useradd -d /home/abhishek -s /bin/bash -g my_group 

As you can see, the useradd command by default doesn’t add much. This is why some people prefer to use the adduser command. You can read about difference between useradd and adduser, if interested.

I hope you found the useradd command examples useful. You may also want to learn to delete users with userdel command. Questions and suggestions are welcome.

Abhishek Prakash